In 1998 sisters Josephine and Jacqueline Verellen lived in a home owned by their parents in Macomb County, Michigan with Josephine’s two children who were 7 and 8 years old.
Lisa Putman was a 28-year-old social worker for Child Protection Services in Macomb County who had removed Josephine’s two children and put them into foster care after receiving a complaint about the uninhabitable conditions of the home which was filled with six cats, one dog, animal feces, urine, garbage, bugs and buckets being used as toilets because the plumbing wasn’t working. However, two weeks after removing the children she returned to the home to explain to Josephine what she has to do to get her children back and she was never seen alive again.
After Josephine confessed to the murder we learnt the grim details of what took place in their house of horrors. After Lisa arrived at the house, she was questioned by the sisters as to who made the complaint that ended up in the children being removed from the house. She refused to tell them who made the complaint and then Jacqueline attacked her with a hammer by hitting her in the head, Josephine then restrained Lisa whilst Jacqueline put tape on her mouth and around her wrists so that she could be put into a garbage bag and then moved to the bathtub. The sisters then left to go shopping, Lisa was still alive when they left the house. When they returned to the house, Lisa had died and they went to dump her body in a wooded area with her car being dumped 1.6km away from the sister’s house.
During the sister’s confessions, Josephine said that Jacqueline had hit Lisa with the hammer six times, Jacqueline said she had hit Lisa with the hammer once and the autopsy showed that Lisa had been hit 22 times with the hammer. Lisa Putman died from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation.
The sisters were originally charged with first-degree murder but it was later changed to second-degree murder and kidnapping. They were both sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
We now know that Josephine and Jacqueline grew up in a very abusive household, they even gave their mother the nickname “dragon lady”. Josephine had even anonymously called Child Protection Services about the abuse that she, her sister and their two foster brothers were subjected to. Originally CPS didn’t have enough evidence of the abuse but once they gathered enough evidence the two foster brothers were removed from the home and sent to live with their birth father.
Of course, none of these revelations about their childhood excuses the way they tortured and murdered a young woman but it makes you wonder if early interventions including extensive therapy would have changed the course that their lives ended up taking.
Since her murder, Lisa’s Law was brought in by the Michigan Family Independence Agency, in connection with the governor and with legislative support to increase the safety of the staff who make house calls.
Rest In Peace Lisa Putman.