West Allis man who lost wife to crash now in jail

CREATED Apr 9, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Investigators have nabbed a man not long after his wife was killed in a car crash. The man lost his wife in December of last year.

The community rallied around him and his children. But, a few weeks later, detectives say he started having graphic conversations with a 14 year old in Texas.  Michael Gawlitta of West Allis is three times the girl's age.

Gawlitta's in the Milwaukee County Jail now on a $15,000 bond. His children also have a new temporary home, staying with their mother's brother.  All this, just three months after that young mom died.

Tammy Gawlitta, devoted mother of four, lost her life on a slippery stretch of Highway 43. Compounding the Gawlitta family's grief, her husband Michael had recently lost his job.  The community was so touched, they began sending money to help out.  But, what good Samaritans didn't know then, a mother in Texas would soon learn.
 
In a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County court, Ginger tells police she caught her 14-year-old daughter in a three hour phone call with 42 year old Michael Gawlitta, who she met on an instant messaging website called, "Kik" just a few weeks after Tammy died.  Digging further, Ginger recovered videos, showing Michael "naked" and touching himself.  He wrote, "I feel like I just made love to you and I am really happy right now."  Ginger took those videos to police.
 
"They encouraged me to remain calm and that was really good because I was not calm you know, I was in tears and tears and tears. I couldn't stop," said Ginger, the teen's mother.
 
Police in Texas spent the next month looking at the girl's cell phone, then gave it back.
 
"And low and behold she contacted him again right away, telling him I love you. I want to be anywhere in the world with you and him telling her that I love you too. Don't worry, someday we'll be together," said Ginger.
 
In Hales Corners, Wednesday afternoon was quiet.  But back in December, supporters filled Hales Corners Lutheran Church as Tammy was laid to rest.  With Michael's arrest, the Gawlitta children may need the support now more than ever.
 
"What I would encourage them to do is to really come alongside the members of this family who are really hurting. And I think the system will do what it is supposed to do," said Pastor Keith Speaks of Hales Corners Lutheran Church.