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Rep. Nygren’s Daughter Appears In Court After Drug-Related Death

Cassandra Nygren Faces Charges In Death Of Woman, Her Unborn Child

Joe Gratz (CC)

State Rep. John Nygren’s daughter appeared in court Thursday afternoon after being arrested Tuesday in connection to a drug overdose death of a 32-year-old pregnant woman.

Charges of first-degree reckless homicide have been referred to the Brown County District Attorney’s Office for Cassandra Nygren, 28, and Shawn Gray, 33. Nygren’s bond was set at $50,000 and she’s due to appear in court Thursday, Oct. 19, when a criminal complaint is expected to be filed.

On Thursday, Brown County Chief Deputy Todd Delain said deputies were monitoring the two after the death of 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen on June 2 in the Village of Allouez.

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The Brown County Medical Examiner determined Skeen died from overdosing on Fentanyl, Delain said. She was six months pregnant. According to the prosecutor’s office, Nygren admitted to arresting officers that she’d sold heroin mixed with fentanyl to Skeen.

Gray and Nygren each face two counts of felony first-degree reckless homicide — one count for the expecting mother and one count for the unborn child.

Delain told reporters Thursday that Gray and Nygren were drug dealers.

Nygren and Gray are “middlers who distribute to support their habit and to live off of, but they weren’t wealthy people making a lot of money off of it,” Delain said.

The two — who Delain described as a couple — were arrested Tuesday after they allegedly sped from officers during a traffic stop. Gray was driving and Nygren’s 14-month-old daughter was in the vehicle, Delain said.

Brown County officers found them soon after and the two were taken into custody.

Deputies used electronic surveillance in the months between the overdose death and the arrests on Tuesday, Delain said.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office released updated charges Nygren and Gray face.

In addition to the homicide charges, Nygren faces charges of child neglect, delivery of a controlled substance, maintaining a drug house, possession of a schedule II substance with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In addition to the homicide charges, Gray faces two charges tied to violating the state’s sex offender registry, two counts of bail jumping, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, and a number of traffic violations.

Nygren’s case has drawn a lot of media attention because of her father’s work in the state Assembly to pass treatment laws.

Rep. Nygren has helped push bills aimed at stemming opioid addiction for years, including the passing of a package of laws called the HOPE (Heroin, Opioid Prevention, and Education) Agenda.

He’s been open about his daughter’s struggles with drugs.

Cassandra Nygren has a history of struggling with heroin and other opioid drugs. She was jailed in 2010 and again in 2015 for using heroin. At one point she participated in Brown County’s Drug Court.

She has also worked as an activist with a drug prevention group called Rise Together.

Delain said he wouldn’t be “facing this many cameras if it involved another family.” But he said the opioid problem is growing in Brown County, Wisconsin, and the United States. “Any family that has another family member going through this type of addiction, there are going to be significant hurdles and difficult times to deal with.”

Nygren appears in court at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:15 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 to include coverage of the hearing. An earlier version of this story gave Skeen’s age as 32, based on information from law enforcement officials. An obituary listed her age as 31. It has been updated.