WINTERSET, Iowa -- The death of 23-year-old Roseanna Otto has left three young girls without a mother.
"At first I was in extreme shock and panic and disbelief. I couldn’t believe something like this would happen to my baby sister," said Lilly Steil, Roseanna's sister.
Winterset police found Roseanna shot and killed on May 27 inside her Winterset home, with the children still inside. "They were asleep in the next room," Lilly said.
Police arrested 25-year-old Jerome Moyer, Roseanna’s ex-boyfriend and the father of two of Roseanna’s children. Lilly says the two broke up years ago because of domestic abuse but still co-parented. Lilly said, "I think he was attempting to get back with her and this was his way of saying, 'well, if I can’t have her, nobody else can.'"
Instead of fueling anger for a man who allegedly killed her sister, Lilly wants to spread her sister's memory. "We want everyone to see her face," she said.
Lilly is focusing on her sister’s passion of being a role model mother who planned to enroll in nursing school this fall at Southwestern Community College. "She loved them unconditionally and supported them through everything and was there for them for anything they ever needed. She was also sassy but she had a big heart that made up for it."
Lilly and Roseanna’s family also want to help others currently in an abusive relationship to know they aren’t alone and there are resources and people who can help them avoid a tragic ending, even if they feel trapped. "It is especially not easy because she didn’t want to take the father away from the kids. He had never been abusive towards them," she said.
She wants to spread awareness so other parents in similar situations can continue to spread love to their children. Lilly said, "Getting to read my kid a bedtime story or just changing one of my kid's diapers reminds me that she doesn’t get to do that anymore."
A memorial fund is set up at all Banker’s Trust locations under the name Roseanna Otto. On Monday, the Pizza Ranch in Winterset will be holding a fundraiser from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. All tips and half of the day’s profit will be donated to Roseanna’s family.
A GoFundMe account is also set up at https://www.gofundme.com/roseanna-otto-memorial-fund
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by dialing 1-800-799-7233.