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Man sentenced in Omaha federal court for killing a 22-year-old mother on Winnebago reservation

Jonathan D. Rooney was convicted of manslaughter and destruction of evidence in December
Prison bars
Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 17:46:12-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In a press release on Friday, United States Attorney Jan Sharp announced that Jonathan D. Rooney, age 27, of Winnebago, Nebraska, was sentenced in Omaha federal court for the killing and burning of 22-year-old Kozee Decorah, with whom he shared an infant son.

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 and then burned her body and other evidence at an abandoned cabin on the Winnebago Indian Reservation.

According to the U.S. Attorney, 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.

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