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'A tragic loss': Popular radio show host, husband killed in murder-suicide

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A 911 call from a child Tuesday morning led police to a murder-suicide in St. Joseph.

Police say 51-year-old Eric Stewart killed 45-year-old Denise Bohn-Stewart and then killed himself.

Police found her body in the bedroom and Eric's in the basement with a hand-gun nearby, but witnesses told police the couple may have been going through marital problems and that Eric might have planned this.

Denise was a part of our WSBT 22 family for a number of years. She came here in 1999, quickly becoming an award-winning reporter.

In 2003, Denise decided to briefly leave the industry to raise her family. She returned to WSBT 22 in 2011 as a freelance reporter and anchor.

"The entire WSBT 22 News family is saddened by today's tragedy," said John Haferkamp, WSBT 22 News director. "Denise was not only a fellow journalist, but a friend to many of us. Denise was hard-working, caring, and loved our community. Her strong passion for life, for news, and sharing great stories will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children and family."

Last year, Denise made a move to radio becoming a co-host of Denise and Johnny in the Morning on 98.3 The Coast.

"We have lost a member of our family at Mid-West Family Broadcasting...Rest in Peace, Denise," 98.3 The Coast posted to its Facebook page.

Denise's husband worked at the Cook Nuclear Plant.

"Eric Stewart was a 28-year AEP employee," according to a statement from Cook. "He was a Maintenance Supervisor. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this terrible news, as well as with all of our employees. We have made grief counselors available to our employees. We're still processing this ourselves. That's all we have to say at this time."

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Neighbors, friends and family want to know why this could happen to a 45-year-old mother of three - known for her spirit, smile, and fight for breast cancer awareness as a survivor.

"It's hard to believe that something like this would happen to her after everything she's been through," said Guernsey.

Denise was known by many, including officers on the scene.

"I did know the female victim personally, professionally through work. It's a tragic loss with what happened here today," said Lt. Chuck Christensen with Michigan State Police.

A phone call, led police to the Stewart's home. Police do think it happened sometime in the morning, before the kids woke up, but those answers, aren't enough to those who knew her.

"Not losing one parent, but losing two parents and the way they went out -- it's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Guernsey.

While police do think Eric may have planned this, they are not yet saying why. The kids were not hurt and are with friends and family. Police will interview them in the coming days.

Autopsies for Denise and Erik are scheduled for tomorrow in Grand Rapids.

"She was a nice person. She was a hard worker. She was a great mother."

Denise was also known for her work in the community. One of her passions was the fight for breast cancer awareness.

Her time on 98.3 The Coast made her a familiar voice and her work with the Susan G. Komen Foundation made her a force to be reckoned with.

Her coworkers agree, she won't be easily replaced.

Denise worked in broadcasting for twenty years, both here at WSBT 22 and at the radio station in St. Joseph.

She was highly respected as both a radio host and a journalist.

"She had overcome so much in her life and was really at a, I think, a high plateau from a professional standpoint," said Gayle Olson, Board of Chairman of Midwest Family Broadcasting.

Denise was also a breast cancer survivor.

After going into remission about three years ago, she worked tirelessly with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help find a cure for the disease.

"Denise was the feistiest, most driven, passionate breast cancer advocate that I have ever met in my experience of fighting this disease," said Jennifer Jurgens, Executive Director for Susan G. Komen Foundation.

For the people who witnessed that passion and drive, today's news was hard to hear, but they say Denise would have wanted them to keep up the good work -- including the Race for the Cure that Denise helped organize.

"We have to keep fighting to honor her legacy and I've talked to some of her friends in Southwest and that's what we're going to do," said Jurgens.

That race will be run in Kalamazoo on May 14.

The people at Susan G. Komen and at the radio station both want to do something for Denise's children.

They're waiting until they can coordinate something with the family.

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