St. Maries woman shot and killed on Christmas

ST. MARIES, Idaho - A man has been arrested after a St. Maries woman was shot and killed on Christmas Day.

The town of St. Maries is in a state of mourning over a Christmas day shooting that took the life of 18-year-old Stefanie Comack.

The town is silenced; that's how Stefanie Comack's friends are putting it. They don't want to believe this young, vibrant woman died in such a violent way.

"It's really taking a toll on us, like, everybody," Comack's friend Daunie Duke said.

By now everyone in town has heard the tragic Christmas morning news. Word travels fast in a town where everybody knows everybody.

Stefanie's dad was too overcome with grief to be interviewed, so he asked his friend Robert Kager to speak for him.

"The effect it's having on the friends and family right now ? it's just sickening," Robert Kager said.

And, her family says, it could have been prevented.

"He was threatening her, and umm yeah, hurting her," Kager claimed.

Stefanie's dad and Kager both say that a week before the shooting at Joseph Herrera's parents' house he threatened her with a gun.

"Sue, the mom, went to the sheriff's department, talked to a deputy, nothing was done," Kager said.

Before that, Kager says, he had to go pick her up at the Coeur d'Alene Casino; he says Herrera made her sit out in a car in below-freezing temperatures. Stefanie wouldn't let Kager have a talk with her boyfriend.

"Nobody knew him, you know, very few people in the circle knew him," Kager said.

On Sunday the unthinkable happened.

Benewah County Dispatch received a call at 11:43 Sunday morning of a shooting in St. Maries. Stefanie Comack had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. She was taken to Benewah Community Hospital and was then medevaced to Kootena Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene, where she died.

The Idaho State Police investigated the crime scene and, following a subsequent interview between ISP deputies, St. Maries Police and Comack's boyfriend Joseph Herrera, Herrera was taken into custody for Stefanie Comack's death. The St. Maries Police Department has not revealed yet what Herrera has been charged with.

According to her Facebook profile, Comack was a 2011 graduate of Kootenai Bridge Academy and was working as a certified nurse assistant at Valley Vista Care Center in St. Maries.

At 18-years-old, Stefanie had her whole life ahead of her. Now she's gone, leaving not just her family, but an entire town, grieving.

"She was the life of everything, she was so fun, she brightened up your day," Daunie Duke said.

"It's pretty hard because I didn't know how close I was to her," Kager said, on the verge of choking up. "She's my little buddy."

St. Maries Police Chief Margaret Lehmbecker refused to comment on this story but issued two press releases regarding Comack's death and the ongoing investigation.