A Wisconsin woman killed her friend by having her drink eye drops, police say

Allergy eye drops
Tetrahydrozoline is safe for use in the eyes but is poisonous when ingested. Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
  • A Pewaukee, Wisconsin, woman is charged with first-degree murder in the poisoning death of her friend.
  • Police say Jessy Kurczewski fed Lynn Hernan a glass filled with eye drop liquid, which is poisonous if ingested.
  • Kurczewski also faces two counts of felony theft in connection with Hernan’s death.
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A woman in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, was charged with first-degree murder in the poisoning death of a friend, and authorities believe she used eye drops to carry out the crime.

A criminal complaint accuses Jessy R. Kurczewski, 36, of using eye drops to poison her friend Lynn Hernan at her Pewaukee, Wisconsin home.

Kurczewski and her mother Jennifer Flower had been helping care for Hernan – who was suffering from a long-term unidentified illness – at the time of her death. Kurczewski called the authorities to Hernan’s home on October 13, 2018, and said Hernan was unconscious.

When police arrived they found Hernan in a recliner with crushed pills on her chest and on a plate next to her. Kurczewski told police that Hernan – frustrated and in pain from her illness – had been suicidal. However, several relatives and friends of Hernan refuted Kurczewski’s claims and also questioned Kurczewski having recently been named executor of Hernan’s will.

Though the scene was made to look like a suicide, police believed that Hernan had actually been murdered. Toxicology reports revealed Hernan had large amounts of Tetrahydrozoline – a decongestant commonly found in eye drops – in her bloodstream.

Tetrahydrozoline is safe for use in the eyes but is poisonous when ingested.

Kurczewski initially denied knowing anything about the eye drops, but after being arrested on suspicion of Hernan’s murder in July 2019, she admitted she had witnessed Hernan putting drops of Visine in her vodka before. In fact, said Kurczewski, a water bottle that had been photographed at the scene of Hernan’s death had actually contained six bottles of Visine. According to the police complaint, Kurczewski admitted that she had given the bottle of Visine to Hernan and that it was “her choice” to drink it.

In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Kurczewski has been charged with two counts of felony theft. Police believe Kurczewski had been stealing from Hernan for several months prior to her death in order to support her gambling addiction. She is accused of committing more than $290,000 worth of fraud.

Kurczewski is currently being held in the Waukesha County Jail on a $1 million bond in anticipation of her June 25 hearing. As a condition of any release, Kurczewski is barred from working as a caregiver or “in any capacity to gain or possess any personal identifying information.” She’s also prohibited from visiting casinos and purchasing or using over-the-counter eye drops.