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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nebraska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 11, 2022

Winnebago Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Manslaughter

United States Attorney Jan Sharp announced that Jonathan D. Rooney, age 27, of Winnebago, Nebraska, was sentenced today in federal court in Omaha for the killing and burning of Kozee Decorah. Chief United States District Court Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr sentenced Rooney to 25 years’ imprisonment: 120 months for manslaughter and 180 months for destruction of evidence. The sentences will run consecutively. After his release from prison, Rooney will begin a three-year term of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

A federal jury found Rooney guilty of manslaughter and destruction of evidence in December 2021. Rooney killed Decorah, 22, and then burned her body and other evidence at an abandoned cabin on the Winnebago Indian Reservation.

On May 16, 2020, Decorah called the Winnebago Police Department to report that the vehicle that she, Rooney, and their infant son were using was stuck in the mud in a remote area of the Winnebago Reservation. When Winnebago Conservation Officers located the vehicle, they were unable to locate Decorah, Rooney, or their baby. The officers noticed a fire near midnight in an outhouse of a remote cabin. Rooney was found in the cabin naked in a bed with his clothes missing. The baby was with him. Blood droplets were observed in the cabin. Human remains in the form of a skull were found in the fire. Decorah was identified through dental records.

While pronouncing Rooney’s sentence, Chief Judge Rossiter noted this case involved the “tragic death of a young woman and young mother.” Chief Judge Rossiter called Rooney’s actions “unforgivable” and noted that Rooney tried to “erase your [Rooney’s] deeds by incineration without care or remorse.” 

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Winnebago Police Department, the Winnebago Conservation Office, Winnebago Volunteer Firefighters, and the Nebraska State Fire Marshal.

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Updated March 14, 2022