Accused Killer Smirks at Horrific Details of Meth-Fueled Sex Slaying


Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.

A Wisconsin woman accused of brutally strangling and dismembering her lover in a meth-fueled tryst smirked and made a “finger gun” gesture in court on Tuesday as witnesses revealed graphic details about the February 2022 murder.

Dr. Vincent Tranchida, from the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office, testified to Brown County Circuit Court jurors how Shad Thyrion was murdered on Feb. 22, 2022 before his head was decapitated. Tranchida also detailed out several other points of decapitation, including that the 24-year-old’s torso was cut in half and his back “was fileted.”

“This body was essentially bloodless,” Tranchida said, adding that injuries Thyrion sustained were consistent with his attacker trying to remove the blood from his flesh. “We have decapitation, we have dismemberment, we have transection of the torso…we have entered inside the body through various cuts…the victim’s organs have been removed once by one.”

“The deceased was castrated as well…it in my medical opinion that this would have taken a great deal of time.”

Taylor Schabusiness, 25, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to first-degree intentional homicide and mutilating a corpse, and third-degree sexual assault in connection Thyrion’s grisly murder. Prosecutors allege that after smoking methamphetamine and engaging in a sexual encounter, the incident took a sinister turn when Schabusiness allegedly strangled Thyrion.

Afterward, prosecutors say Schabusiness admitted to mutilating Thyrion’s body for hours. She allegedly used several knives to dismember Thyrion before placing his body parts throughout the basement of the Green Bay home he shared with his mother. Tranchida also noted that Thyrion had cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana in his system when he died, but that the drugs were not the cause of his death.

“The choice was to utterly degrade him after the fact,” Wisconsin prosecutor Caleb Sauders said during opening arguments.

Schabusiness’ attorneys asked jurors on Monday to keep an open mind and “assess the credibility of each and every witness.” (Her previous attorney, Quinn Jolly, quit the case after Schabusiness physically attacked her during a February competency hearing.)

But several witnesses for the prosecution painted a harrowing picture of the night of the Feb. 22 murder.

Thyrion’s mother, Tara Pakanich, testified that she woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of her front door slamming. She said that she briefly went to the basement to see if her son was home—and instead discovered a five-gallon bucket with a beach towel on top. Inside, she said, was her son’s head.

“She found the severed head of her son in the basement,” Pakanich’s boyfriend, Steve Hendricks, told a 911 dispatcher in a call played in court. “There’s something in the god damn bucket.”

Green Bay Police Officer Alex Wanish, who was one of the first responders on the scene, told jurors that in addition to finding the “human severed head in the bucket,” he saw a stack of mattresses and blood on the floor.

Detective Phillip Scanlan, who was also one of the first to the scene, testified that a "penis and testicles” were found in the bucket with the head. He walked jurors through photos of the crime scene and Thyrion’s body, explaining that investigators found that his organs were removed and his foot was placed inside his chest cavity.

Prosecutors are also expected to play Schabusiness’s police interview in which she admitted to the grisly crime. According to the criminal complaint, Schabusiness told investigators that she and Thyrion would often use chains and strangulation techniques during sex. But the final time, she allegedly said, she went “crazy” and began strangling Thyrion until he turned purple. Afterward, she said, she sexually assaulted his corpse.

According to prosecutors, Schabusiness later told police that they’d “have fun trying to find all of the organs” and that while she originally planned to bring all the body parts with her when she left the house, she got “paranoid and lazy” and left the head behind. Schabusiness asked them if they knew “what it was like to love something so much that you kill it.”

Body-camera footage played in court Tuesday also showed Schabusiness’ hands and clothes covered with what appeared to be blood as deputies arrested her.

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