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Published: Friday, 7/1/2005

Ex-Tecumseh woman found slain in Montana; authorities arrest fiance

FROM BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

TECUMSEH, Mich. - A former Tecumseh resident was found dead Monday near the Montana Air Force base where she was stationed, and her fiance was arrested in connection with her death after attempting at least five times to commit suicide, court records said.

Airman 1st Class Jill Renee LaRocque, 22, was found dead at a motel in Great Falls, Mont., after her fiance, John D. Trotter, 19, was arrested on a Forest Service road in Meagher County, Montana.

Mr. Trotter, also an airman first class with the 341st Security Forces Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, was being held in the Cascade County, Montana, regional jail on a murder charge.

Ms. LaRocque met Mr. Trotter in basic training, her stepmother, Sue LaRocque, said.

Court records stated that Ms. LaRocque appeared to have been choked to death, but a Cascade County coroner would not release the official cause of death.

Mr. Trotter and Ms. LaRocque checked into a hotel Saturday afternoon. Mr. Trotter said he began drinking and passed out sometime before noon on Sunday. Ms. LaRocque left to have lunch with a friend, the court records said.

When she returned, she told him there was "no way she was going to marry an alcoholic." Mr. Trotter said he "snapped" and choked Ms. LaRocque for six to eight minutes until she fell off the bed, then choked her some more, according to the court records.

Mr. Trotter later went shopping, buying a knife, then bleach and ammonia, authorities said. He stopped at his base dormi-tory room early Monday, where law enforcement officers found pools of blood and a knife. They believe he attempted suicide there.

Court records said Mr. Trotter tried to drink the bleach and ammonia, but couldn't. He then tried to hang himself with a belt and a power cord. He then slept at another motel until later Monday, when he again tried to kill himself by drinking anti-freeze and window washer fluid, but couldn't.

Mr. Trotter took Ms. LaRocque's car down U.S. Highway 89 late Monday, looking for a cliff to drive off, he told authorities.

He drove up a Forest Service road, then turned around and tried to pull in front of a motorhome traveling on Highway 89. The driver of the motorhome swerved to avoid hitting the car, Meagher County authorities said.

Court records said Mr. Trotter confessed to choking Ms. LaRocque while being questioned by a Montana Highway Patrol officer.

Ms. LaRocque arrived in Montana in May after a week-long visit home, her stepmother said.

She enlisted in the Air Force in November and joined the Security Forces. She was considering making a career of the military or becoming a police officer after her six years were up, her stepmother said.

"She was very excited about serving her country and making a difference," Mrs. LaRocque said.

Before joining the military, Ms. LaRocque was a dispatcher for the Belleville, Mich. Police Department.

"I think that sparked her interest in law enforcement," her stepmother said.

Family friend Deb Barrow said Ms. LaRocque was proud to get into the Air Force and wanted to excel.

"She was determined," she said. "She started lifting weights and getting her muscles built up before she went to basic training."

Mrs. Barrow said Ms. LaRocque felt that she had found her purpose in life in the military.

"It was like her life had finally come to where she was very happy," she said.

Ms. LaRocque was born Feb. 13, 1983, in Ann Arbor to Jacques LaRocque and Debra LaRock.

She graduated from Manchester, Mich., High School in 2001. She attended Tecumseh schools from 5th through 11th grade.

Her stepmother described her as a caring person who got along with everyone. She liked to take photographs, especially of nature, her cats, and her friends, she said.

Mrs. Barrow said she had a sensitive spirit. She wrote poetry and stories and was loyal to her friends.

Surviving are her father and stepmother, Jacques and Sue LaRocque; mother, Debra LaRock; brother, Seth LaRocque; sister, Emily LaRocque; stepbrothers, Justin Tinkle and Joshua and Jordan Guest, and grandparents, Marilyn LaRock, John and Shirley Klumpp, and Loren and Carole Hansen.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today at the Tecumseh Chapel of Couture-Handler Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Tecumseh Church of the Nazarene.

The family suggests tributes to the Lenawee County Humane Society, Oak Grove Cemetery of Manchester, or the church.



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