Father, son had ‘great relationship’ — (The Rockford Register Star)

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The Rockford Register Star

By Bob Schaper, ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR

Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, confirmed that this boy was taking Wellbutrin at the time of the murder.

Family members are stunned by the death of Dan Ward and the charges against his son.

ROCKFORD — Just before Thanksgiving, Dan Ward and his only son, Damien, left their new home in Roscoe for a hunting expedition in northern Wisconsin. It was an annual trip, and the hunt went better than most this year because both bagged a deer.

But a few weeks later — before the processed venison was even delivered — Dan Ward, 54, was dead. His body was discovered Wednesday morning in the family home. He had been killed by a single rifle shot to his head.

Even more jolting to family members, Damien, 18, was in the Winnebago County Jail, charged with first-degree murder in his father’s death.

“I suppose if you had hit me in the head with a brick, I’d have probably felt better,” Damien Ward Jr., Dan’s father, said Friday afternoon. Speaking by phone from his home in Park Forest, Ward said his eldest son and grandson had a great relationship.

“I keep asking myself, ‘What happened and why did (Damien) do it?« And I can’t get an answer.”

Julie Malloy and her daughter, Laurel, also lived in the solidly middle-class, $200,000-plus home on Lismore Road.

Dan Ward’s only other child, Gina, 21, is a student at Purdue University, her grandfather said.

Other family members could not be reached Friday or did not want to comment. The victim’s ex-wife, who also is Damien’s mother, Donna L. Ward-Trembczynski, was in the Chicago area with the Ward family.

Dan Ward’s six siblings also were returning home this weekend from Arizona, Florida and other locales.

Damien Ward Jr. has not talked with his grandson since the arrest. He plans to visit the young man in jail at some point, he said. “He’s my grandson. You can’t abandon the kid. It was a terrible thing that happened. Whether or not (Damien) was stable … I don’t know the circumstances.”

Ward said his grandson has had problems with depression.

Dan Ward moved from Lansing to the Rockford area at least three or four years ago, after taking a job at the Daimler Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere. Previously, he had worked at a machine manufacturer.

After living in apartments, Ward closed Sept. 9 on his house in Roscoe.

Damien moved in with his Damien moved in with his father and the Malloys within the past several months, moving from his mother«s and stepfather«s home in Crown Point, Ind.

In early December, Damien took his father«s vehicle in Roscoe. Damien was arrested in Lake County, Ind., just west of Crown Point, after a minor traffic accident.

He was initially charged with resisting law enforcement and driving with a suspended license. He pleaded guilty to both offenses in exchange for deferred prosecution. He was released Dec. 7 and sentenced to two days of community service.

But the results of a drug test taken as part of the accident investigation led prosecutors to file additional charges, including possession of drug paraphernalia, described as a marijuana pipe, and operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. The charges were filed Wednesday.

Court documents said Ward tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.

Damien Ward Jr. said the family will get together for Christmas.

“Everybody’s sad,” he said. “We’re still having our Christmas Day.”