Local law enforcement maintain a roadblock Monday at a home on Thompson Street in Peshtigo that was the scene of a homicide Sunday. Trish Waschbisch was killed and her live-in boyfriend, Brent Kaempf, was taken into custody as a person of interest. A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. today. <br> EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Local law enforcement maintain a roadblock Monday at a home on Thompson Street in Peshtigo that was the scene of a homicide Sunday. Trish Waschbisch was killed and her live-in boyfriend, Brent Kaempf, was taken into custody as a person of interest. A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
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MARINETTE - Throughout the Twin Cities and all the way to Madison, people have reacted with shock and sadness over the murder of Trish Waschbisch.

From friends and co-workers, to those who received her help through some of the toughest times of their lives, many reached out through social and news media to express what Waschbisch meant to them and the community.

Other than family and the close friends, none are sadder than those associated with The Rainbow House, a domestic abuse center where Waschbisch worked for more than 12 years, as an advocate and most recently, as the interim director.

Francine Kitkowski, president of the Rainbow House board of directors, made an official statement on behalf of the nonprofit shelter for domestic abuse victims.

"The Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services is devastated today as we have lost our leader and very special friend, Trish Waschbisch. The staff and board of directors would appreciate the continued support that we receive from the communities now more than ever.

"Trish has given her life to this organization and was an exceptional leader in the fight against domestic violence. Her legacy will live on in our hearts and many others forever.

"We ask for support and prayers for Trish and her family during this time of deep sorrow.

"Please continue to support The Rainbow House and help us help those victims put an end to domestic violence. We will proudly continue to carry the torch in Trish's honor."

As a friend, Kitkowski said Waschbisch's death will have a ripple effect throughout the community.

"She was just extraordinary," Kitkowski said Monday evening. "We can't replace her. Nobody was as dedicated in what she believed in."

Waschbisch, who had two children - a grown son, Justin, and a teenage daughter, Alexis - was a devoted mother, "and a fun person," Kitkowski said. "She loved her life, she loved her children, she loved to travel and she loved her dog Gizmo."

Kitkowski said that Waschbisch made a point each year to pick out destinations for special trips - and recently went to New York and Texas.

But the Rainbow House was her life, "and she was the Rainbow House," Kitkowski said.

"She played such an important role - she was an icon in this community. She went above and beyond to keep the doors open at the shelter."

Kitkowski was a volunteer at Rainbow House more than eight years ago when she met Waschbisch, and in the past five years, she had grown to consider Waschbisch a good friend.

Waschbisch was named interim director about two years ago, and proved herself more than up to the task, Kitkowski said. "She never gave herself enough credit, but I believed in her and I was proud of her."

Waschbisch was featured in the EagleHerald's special publication "People Making a Difference," in December, an honor Kitkowski said was well deserved. "I was ecstatic that she was written about," Kitkowski said. "I told her, 'You don't realize what you do for this community.'"

Patti Seger, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV ) with offices in Madison, remembered Waschbisch Monday.

"Domestic violence victim advocates across Wisconsin have heavy hearts and deeply mourn the loss of Trish Waschbisch," said Seger. "Trish was a strong and dedicated advocate. She had the respect of her colleagues and fellow community members. The positive impact of her life's work is beyond measure. She was tireless in her efforts to keep countless victims safe. While Trish is irreplaceable, we will continue that work in her memory."

Waschbisch's boyfriend, Brent Kaempf, was considered a person of interest by law enforcement and was brought in for questioning early Monday morning. While a joint news released issued by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the City of Peshtigo Police and the Marinette County Sheriff's Department did not indicate whether Kaempf was still in custody or facing charges in her death, it did state that people did not have to fear their safety at this point in the investigation.

The statement from WCADV takes a further step in painting a picture of what may have transpired at Waschbisch's Peshtigo home this weekend - a picture of possible domestic violence.

"This incident is an incredibly sad and tragic reminder that domestic violence can affect anyone," Seger stated. "Whenever there is a domestic violence homicide, other victims often feel added terror and fear. Many victims are likely questioning if anyone can be safe. The most important step a victim can take to increase her or his safety is to overcome the isolation that accompanies abuse. Reach out to trusted family members or friends. Call the local domestic violence victim service provider - just to talk, if nothing else."

The WCADV news release went on to state that individuals who are in danger should know there is help available, in Marinette County and across the state. Victims can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline number at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-799-7233, or visit http://www.wcadv.org/gethelp for a list of Wisconsin domestic violence victim service providers in their area.

"We don't know any details, but sometimes people who are the leaders or helpers in their communities are the most isolated; they feel unable to come forward to get help for themselves," Seger said. "At times like these, many ask why the victim didn't leave, but the question should be: why did the perpetrator kill someone he professed to care about? There is a domestic violence homicide in Wisconsin almost every week. Instead of being fixated on victims' reactions to abuse, we need to focus on the behaviors, attitudes and beliefs of perpetrators."

Kitkowski said that the best way to honor Waschbisch "is to keep the shelter doors open. I will do that, because that is what she would want to happen."