All families have secrets. The father of April Balascio once paraded his secret in front of his wife and kids, daring them to find him out.
April long suspected something was off with her father. The last-minute and sudden moves, the collections of clippings of stranger murders from the towns they had lived in — none of it felt right to her.
All of it added up to something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. But this was the man who walked her down the aisle and, as she says, instilled a sense of honesty and hard work in her and her siblings. He couldn’t be a serial killer, could he?
Researching the towns and dates her family had suddenly moved, Balascio realized the “sweetheart murders” in Watertown, Wisconsin, had happened just days before they had moved.
“He’d tell us that we had to move in secret because he was protecting us, because there were people who wanted to hurt him or us,” she explained.
Tim Hack and Kelly Drew were a couple who had gone missing after attending a wedding reception at Concord House. Balascio’s father had been working at Concord house at the time of the murder.
Once she realized the connection between her family’s moves and the murders, she called the Watertown police.
Her father had actually been interviewed by the police a day before he moved his family unexpectedly.
But Balascio’s father was brazen with his secret, using his family as a prop to return to the scene of the crime. She remembered being 8 years old when he showed her and the family what she later realized was a gravesite.
“My dad took us kids and my mom for a walk though that very park. He took us through the weeds, and I remember he was shouting something to my mother.
“The next day I knew, there were ambulances and sirens everywhere…he’d taken us to where their dead bodies were.”
All these years later, after she put this puzzle together and told the police, her father was quickly arrested. Once arrested, he quickly confessed to the two murders and three others, including the young man he adopted in his early 20’s and killed at age 25 in order to collect his life insurance.
Now a wife and personal trainer who also refurbishes furniture for a living, Balascio has a mixed bag of emotions about turning her father in. Families can be complicated, no less so when your father is a serial killer.
“I want to know ‘why.’ But I think I know…It was a cat-and-mouse game with him. It was always a thrill for him to one-up the police,” she said.
“I live with two kinds of guilt. Not reporting him sooner and possibly saving lives, and the guilt of turning in my own father. They’re both strong.”
Her father was given a death sentence. Due to health complications from diabetes, he died less than a month later in prison, and justice was served.
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