Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details about domestic violence and makes reference to sexual assault.
Choking a woman until she began to black out, hitting her in the face and ribs and firing a pistol during a domestic dispute are among some of the accusations against a Lake in the Hills man and former East Dundee police officer.
Michael D. Seyller’s work with the East Dundee Police Department began in 1999 and ended in December 2013, when the city’s police pension board approved Seyller’s application for disability resulting from an off-duty injury.
Seyller, 45, has been in the McHenry County Jail since Aug. 28, when he allegedly violated bond during a domestic battery altercation at his Lake in the Hills home. At the time, Seyller was out on bond for a separate domestic battery charge involving the same woman.
His arrests began to pile up after a 2013 bar fight in Adams County, Wisconsin. Police reports filed over the course of several years detail the alleged instances of domestic violence and weapons misuse that have led Seyller in and out of county jails, trailing behind him a litany of charges.
Where it all began
Seyller’s legal trouble began about the time he was charged with battery in connection with a March 2013 bar fight in Wisconsin. The charge later was reduced to a misdemeanor, and Seyller was ordered to pay a fine after entering a no contest plea in June 2014.
About a month later, police were called about midnight to Pine Hollow Road in Carpentersville for a report of an underage drinking party.
While officers patrolled the area, Carpentersville police officer Thomas Crowe noticed two people walking on the sidewalk. One of them appeared to be “marching with something slung over his shoulder.” The man, later identified as Seyller, drew closer and the object slung over his shoulder came into clear view, Crowe wrote in his report.
“I said out loud, ‘Is that a shotgun?’ ” Crowe wrote. “Seyller had the shotgun over his right shoulder with his right hand on the butt of the shotgun holding it up. I then got on my radio and said, ‘Immediate 10-61 across the street, gun.’ ”
Seyller handed the gun over to the officer, who removed five rounds from the shotgun and placed them in his squad car. Shortly after Seyller returned home, he got on his police radio and reported that he overheard someone threaten to shoot the police officers who responded to the party. He told officers he was only trying to protect them and claimed they would do the same for him, police reports show.
Officers later learned that Seyller had been on administrative leave from the East Dundee Police Department since Aug. 27, 2012, and had no authority to act as a police officer. The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office filed an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charge against Seyller, but the allegation was dismissed in September 2013.
‘A downward spiral’
Two of Seyller’s alleged victims agree that the ex-officer’s career-ending injury sent him into a downward a spiral.
“Prior to the trouble that he’s had in his life between 2013 to present, this was far out of his character,” said one woman, who reported that Seyller punched and choked her earlier this month. “His injury that ended his career changed him in a lot of ways.”
The 2013 arrests marked the beginning of a series of police reports that would be filed against Seyller.
In April, Seyller reportedly fired a Kel-Tec .38-caliber pistol during a domestic dispute and punched a woman whom he knew, according to a Lake in the Hills police report. The woman claims Seyller accidentally fired the gun into the mattress, although police reports allege Seyller pointed the weapon at her during their argument.
Shortly after Seyller posted bail on charges including reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the alleged victim appeared in court to ask the judge to allow Seyller back into their home, since he was the main income earner.
Retired McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather denied the woman’s request in May, but Seyller was back at the McHenry County Jail on Aug. 28, after allegedly battering the same woman.
Seyller pushed the woman to the ground, choked her and repeatedly struck her when she tried to stop him from driving drunk, according to a Lake in the Hills police report. As he was choking her, he told the woman she was “going to die” and to “go to sleep,” according to the report.
Although she felt she was going to die that night, the woman also believes Seyller can be “rehabilitated,” she said.
“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that removing alcohol from the equation is all Mr. Seyller needs to be the man that his family and I know that he is and he can be,” the woman said.
Still, the memory of the night he choked her stands out in “vivid technicolor,” she said.
“There’s nothing I can say to anyone to support him on that issue because what he did was wrong, and there’s consequences for it,” the woman said, adding that she believes the situation was a “wake-up call” for Seyller.
Seyller has a history of domestic violence-related arrests, although they’ve never resulted in prison time.
In April 2013, Seyller was charged in Kane County with misdemeanor domestic violence. The charge was dismissed in 2014 after Seyller completed domestic violence counseling, records show.
He faced similar charges in October 2016 after allegedly grabbing a woman by the throat, punching her several times and slamming her head against the bathroom wall. The misdemeanor charges were dismissed in April 2017, records show.
Carpentersville police met with the same woman later that month, however, when she claimed Seyller threatened to “drive the car into a tree and kill them both,” police reports show. The woman did not press charges against Seyller.
Police again were called Feb. 2, 2017, to respond to a 911 hang up. When officers arrived, they met with the same woman from the April 2017 situation.
“She had been crying and advised that Michael had shown up at her house this morning and raped her in front of her daughter,” Carpentersville police wrote in a 2017 report.
Seyller told officers that he and the woman had consensual sex that day, according to the police report. The woman said she wanted to report the situation to another police department, but no sexual assault charges were ever filed against Seyller.
Why a victim stays
It’s a scenario that’s common in abusive relationships, said Jane Farmer, the executive director of Turning Point McHenry County, an organization that offers support services to people affected by domestic violence.
When an abuser manipulates his or her victim emotionally, physically or financially, decisions about safety, love and survival become harder to make, Farmer said.
“A lot of times, if an abuser gets violent with a victim ... and the victim becomes afraid, maybe she can get to the phone or call police,” Farmer said. “[The abuser] can de-escalate because his violence is all over with. ... He says all the right things, and [the victim] is hopeful. She’s very hopeful.”
Although the alleged victim tied to Seyller’s most recent arrests is clinging to hope that he will change, another woman who previously had a relationship with Seyller said she fears the man and “has to look over [her] shoulder.”
“When is he going to be held accountable for his actions?” the woman asked after Seyller’s April arrest. “Is it when someone’s finally dead? He knows the loopholes, and he knows how to play the game.”
Seyller remained at the McHenry County Jail on Friday on $260,000 bond. His attorney, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Seyller is due back in McHenry County court Sept. 18. He’s also scheduled to make a court appearance Wednesday in Kane County on a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge.
Anyone affected by domestic violence should contact their local police department or text or call the McHenry County Community Foundation at 815-338-4483 for crisis services. Victims also can reach the McHenry County Crisis Line at 800-892-8900 or connect with Turning Point of McHenry County at 815-338-8081.