Iowa Center Where Teen Killed Staffer Had History of Incidents

Charges of second-degree murder have been filed against a 15-year-old from Ellipsis, Iowa after the youth shoved  50-year-old Kathleen Galloway-Menke outside a juvenile home in Johnston.

Her two kids decided to remove Galloway-Menke from life support. The woman suffered unrecoverable brain damage and ultimately passed away.

Still incarcerated at a secure juvenile detention center,  Jovahn Mathis now faces second-degree murder charges, up from the original willful injury charge, according to the Polk County Attorney.

The adolescent left the facility without authorization. As he stepped outside, Galloway-Menke and another employee trailed after him, maintaining their distance. A supervisor and other employees also went outside, but they remained farther back. All of a sudden, the adolescent pivoted and dashed across the street, ignoring the other employee entirely, heading straight toward Galloway-Menke. His thrust sent her slamming against the concrete pavement. Despite Galloway-Menke’s emergency brain surgery, her prognosis was unfavorable.

The Des Moines juvenile home Ellipsis was founded in August 2021 as a result of a merger of two nonprofits. The institution provides residential care, therapy, counseling, and other services to more than seven hundred fifty kids and their families daily. The center has received over a thousand calls during the last three years, 676 of which pertain to runaways and 72 to alleged assaults. This past year, the facility received 382 total calls from the police, 251 of which were about runaways and 31 about assaults.

The Ellipsis administration rejected interviews and called the incident on May 8th an isolated and tragic outcome. To beef up campus security for the community, their employees, and the protection of the students who attend, they are collaborating with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Fatalities in adolescent detention facilities are very rare. A 17-year-old boy in southern Utah assaulted Jimmy Woolsey, a 60-year-old staff member, from behind in 2016. As a special education helper, Galloway-Menke spent 25 years in the Johnston School District before joining Ellipsis.