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Sheriff asks for charges in homicide case

A Milwaukee woman who was considered a person of interest in a Dodge County homicide case is being accused of homicide. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office is asking for a charge of first-degree intentional homicide against Kriscilla K. McHenry, 30, who is in custody in Dodge County after turning herself in to Milwaukee police in September. Deputies said the body of Michael J. Soeller, 43, was found by his landlord at N9938 State Highway 73 on Aug. 24. The landlord said he hadn’t seen Soeller for several days. An autopsy found that Soeller died from loss of blood due to injuries inflicted by an assailant, according to a release. Investigators said they do not believe this was a random act of violence. McHenry was also wanted on a warrant for operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. She’s in custody in connection with the theft of Soeller’s vehicle.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:06:15 GMT

Authorities ID man held after 7 bodies found

[Breaking News update posted at 1:01 p.m. ET] The 43-year-old Gary, Indiana, man in police custody in connection with the bodies of seven women found in Hammond and Gary has been identified as Darren Vann, according to Hammond Police Chief John Doughty. [Previous story posted at 12:27 p.m. ET] It started with one body at a motel in Hammond, Indiana. By the next day, a 43-year-old Gary man was in custody, and his confession, police say, would lead them to three other women's bodies. They'd find three more the next day. The bodies were found in four locations, and the man "continues to provide information of possible locations, not just in Gary but in other parts of northwest Indiana," Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told CNN. "It's quite possible that there may be more victims," the mayor said. Though the man hasn't been charged or identified, local headlines blare and residents wonder: Did police find a serial killer? Authorities have yet to label the man as such. Police were told Friday night that an unresponsive woman was found in a room at a Motel 6 off Interstate 80, Lt. Richard Hoyda of the Hammond Police Department said. The 19-year-old woman had been killed by strangulation, CNN affiliate WGN reported. Detectives developed a lead that led them Saturday to Gary, where they executed search warrants on a home and vehicle and took a person of interest into custody, Hoyda told CNN. "The search warrant was executed not at the residence of the suspect but at a location near to the reported suspect's home in Gary," he said in a statement. The man made a confession and took detectives to Gary, where "several other female victims of possible homicide" were found, Hoyda said. Three women were found in three abandoned homes Saturday, and police found three other bodies Sunday, Freeman-Wilson said. Two victims identified Two of the seven bodies recovered have been identified, said Chelsea Whittington, a spokeswoman for Freeman-Wilson. Afrikka Hardy, 19, was the woman found at the Motel 6, and Anith Jones, 35 of Merrillville, who had been missing since October 8, was found over the weekend, she said. The five other women have yet to be identified, Whittington said. Freeman-Wilson said she was not aware of any connection among the women but noted that only two had been identified. A man living next door to where one of the bodies was found told CNN affiliate WSBT that he believes the crimes occurred recently. "Somebody had to come in there like last week or something, because (Northern Indiana Public Service Company) and the water company were there turning off the power and stuff, so there was no one in there," Justin Jones said. Suspect 'certainly was cooperative' The man in custody, who is talking to police, is a convicted sex offender from Austin, Texas, Freeman-Wilson said. He also had a conviction out of Lake County, Indiana, that was "not in the sex offender category," she said. "He certainly was cooperative. He led (police) to the locations of these bodies. Whether he was eager or not, I'm not in a position to say that," she said. Several police agencies are now working the case, which could grow larger and expand into at least one other state, the mayor said. In total, seven women were found -- one at the Motel 6 and six at undisclosed locations, the Lake County Coroner's Office told CNN. The Gary man in custody is a suspect in at least one of the deaths, police said in a statement that didn't explain why he had yet to be connected to the other deaths when authorities allege he confessed. Police did not immediately return calls requesting more details.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:11:51 GMT

Scientist stumbles upon puppy-sized spider

Arachnophobes, this story isn't for you. Scientist Piotr Naskrecki posted photos from a recent trip to a rainforest in Guyana, where he stumbled upon a hairy, brown spider the size of a puppy. He heard rustling underfoot and expected to see a small mammal. "When I turned on the light, I couldn't quite understand what I was seeing," Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology, told LiveScience. What he found was a South American Goliath birdeater -- which, it turns out, is the world's largest spider. Sporting two-inch fangs and a body the size of a large fist, the spider may look imposing, but is no big threat to humans, Naskrecki said. Its bite is venomous, but not deadly. But you should still beware. When Naskrecki approached the creature, it began rubbing its hind legs against its abdomen. The action sent out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs on them that can be "extremely painful" if they get in your eyes or nose, he said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:14:28 GMT

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Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:44:47 GMT

Middleton gas station robbed Sunday morning, police say

Middleton police are looking for a man who robbed a gas station on University Avenue Sunday morning, according to a news alert. Just after 8 a.m. the Middleton Police Department was notified of a commercial hold-up alarm at the Cenex Convenience Store at 7515 University Ave., officials said. Moments later a 911 call was placed by a store employee confirming a robbery had just occurred. The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of money, according to the alert. No weapon was shown or implied during the robbery. The robber is described as a white man in his 20s, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. He was wearing a white stocking hat and a red hooded sweatshirt. He was last seen on foot heading south on Aurora Street from the store, police said. Officials ask anyone with information on the robbery to call the Middleton Police Department at 608-824-7300 or text tips to the same number.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:58:04 GMT


Published: Tue, 10 May 2011 13:51:57 GMT

1-time foreclosure king, son arrested in Pewaukee

Heavily-armed federal agents broke down the door of a Pewaukee home and arrested a man described as a one-time king of foreclosures and his adult son. The U.S. marshals, assisted by the FBI, Waukesha County Sheriff's deputies and Pewaukee police took Todd Brunner and his 24-year-old son, Shawn, into custody at the home early Monday morning. The two have been indicted on bankruptcy and fraud charges. Prosecutors said they hid assets from bankruptcy court and that the elder Brunner tried to hide more than $7 million in assets from lenders. A warrant was issued Friday after they failed to appear in court. The Journal Sentinel profiled the collapse of Brunner's financial empire in 2011, which was built largely by buying hundreds of foreclosed homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Federal court records do not list an attorney for the Brunners.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:10:33 GMT

Sun Prairie man killed in motorcycle crash identified

A 27-year-old Sun Prairie man killed when his motorcycle crashed into a parked car in Middleton early Thursday morning is identified. The man identified by the Dane County Medical Examiner as Abraham F. Palacio, died early Thursday morning after the crash on a residential street, according to Middleton police. The crash happened just before 2 a.m. in the 6700 block of Elmwood Avenue in Middleton. According to police, the motorcycle was going eastbound when it struck a legally parked vehicle on the north side of the roadway. Palacio was pronounced dead at the scene. Middleton police said excessive speed and alcohol are believed to be factors in the crash. Police said Palacio was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:25:13 GMT

9 arrested in child sex trafficking sting

Authorities say nine people have been arrested in a child sex trafficking sting in the Eau Claire area. Investigators say they posed as children online looking for sex, or as an adult wanting to traffic a child for sex. Police said the nine were arrested Thursday and Friday. A news conference is scheduled Monday morning in Eau Claire.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:28:59 GMT

Investigators find western Wis. cabin full of pot

Drug investigators arrested a 45-year-old man after finding a rural western Wisconsin cabin filled with dried marijuana plants. Vernon County Sheriff's Lt. Scott Bjerkos told the La Crosse Tribune the bust in rural La Farge Friday morning was one of their largest. The dried plants that filled a cargo van were estimated to be worth $100,000. Sheriff John Spears says investigators suspect the plants were grown about 20 miles away in the town of Franklin. Investigators say a 45-year-old man fled from an outbuilding of the cabin when authorities arrived with a search warrant. Spears say they found him in the woods about a quarter-mile away, along with knives, marijuana and a pipe he hid under leaves. He could face federal and state charges.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 14:10:07 GMT

5 injured in head-on crash north of Mazomanie

Five people were injured in a two-vehicle head-on crash north of Mazomanie Saturday afternoon, Sauk County sheriff’s deputies said. Just before 1 p.m., Sauk County officials were notified of a head-on crash on Highway 60 west of Troy Village Road in the town of Troy, according to a release. Initial reports indicated there were several people injured at the scene. Investigators determined a 1997 Corvette, driven by a 58-year-old Arena man, was going east on Highway 60 when he lost control in a curve, went into the westbound lane of traffic and hit a 2014 Ford Escape being driven by a 69-year-old Madison woman. The Ford had three additional passengers, and the driver of the Corvette was the lone occupant of his vehicle, according to the release. The Arena man and a passenger of the Ford were transported to UW Hospital by Med Flight, deputies said. The driver of the Ford was transported to UW Hospital by ambulance, and the two other passengers were transported to Sauk Prairie Hospital by ambulance. The conditions of the people involved in the crash are unknown, according to the release. Speed and failure to have control by the operator of the Corvette are believed to be factors in the crash, investigators said. The crash is still under investigation.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:30:57 GMT

Small town provides background for new film

One small southwest Wisconsin town in our area may soon be breaking into the movie business.  The town of Montfort is playing home to the independent film called "Halfway," a movie about a young man who is sent to work on his stepbrother's family farm in Wisconsin following a stint in prison. The star role is played by Quinton Aaron, who last appeared in 2012's "The Blind Side."  “It's a story that has a lot of heart, it's a real drama,” Aaron said. During the past several weeks the film crew has been in Wisconsin, Montfort residents have stepped up to help out both behind and in front of the camera. "They've been opening their homes and their businesses to us, [and they’ve been] team players and super cool about everything,” Aaron said. "It's a pretty big deal coming to Montfort,” said Ryan Lepeska, a Montfort resident and associate producer for the film. “It's not every day you see a movie filming in a small town of 700 people." Producers say they’re hoping Halfway will make it to the big screen by 2016. Filming is expected to wrap up in Montfort next week. Aaron says after weeks of learning more about Montfort and its residents, he plans to return to the small town "It's that place in the middle of the country that I can call my new home,” he says. 

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:43:58 GMT

Shots fired in west side neighborhood overnight

Madison police are investigating what led to a report of shots being fired in a west side neighborhood early Monday morning. The report came from the 1800 block of Axel Avenue about 2:40 a.m. Monday. When officers arrived, they determined that there were vehicles involved and that they left before officers arrived. Police said there are no reported injuries, no known victims and no one has been arrested in the case.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:07:53 GMT

Burke, Walker pushing early voting

Supporters of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are trying to capitalize on a two-week early voting period, holding rallies and other events to get supporters to the polls. In-person absentee voting began Monday in Wisconsin and continues through Oct. 31. Burke was in Appleton on Monday for an early voting rally, and next week President Barack Obama was scheduled to campaign for her in Milwaukee to help get out the vote. The Republican Party of Wisconsin was holding its own early vote rally in Green Bay with Republican National Committee co-chair Sharon Day and Rachel Campos-Duffy, the wife of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy. Last week's Marquette University Law School poll shows the race for governor is tied.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:30:51 GMT

Wisconsin couple sentenced in Iowa meth case

A Wisconsin couple has been sentenced to five years in prison after Clayton County authorities discovered a methamphetamine manufacturing operation at their Iowa home. The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported 34-year-old Jesse Lutz and 32-year-old Shara Lutz previously faced harsher sentences because their 7-year-old son lived in the home. The couple from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, took a deal with prosecutors last week. Prosecutors said a state Department of Human Services worker visited the home in September 2013 and smelled meth. They were each charged and convicted with possessing drugs with intent to distribute and child endangerment. The couple assisted prosecutors in securing convictions against another man and woman connected to the same operation.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:32:55 GMT

GOP accuses Happ of going easy on bomb builder

Republicans are accusing Democratic attorney general hopeful Susan Happ of letting a pipe bomb builder get off scot-free even though she stepped aside to let federal prosecutors handle the case. Happ currently serves as the Jefferson County district attorney. On Friday the state GOP questioned why Happ's office charged Christopher Hamlin with possessing a pipe bomb in 2009 only to drop the case less than a month later. The GOP issued a statement accusing Happ of not caring about public safety. Happ has countered she dropped the case because a federal grand jury had indicted Hamlin with possessing a destructive device. Online federal court records indicate Hamlin was indicted 16 days after Happ's office filed its charges. He was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:41:18 GMT

1-time foreclosure king, son arrested in Pewaukee

Heavily-armed federal agents broke down the door of a Pewaukee home and arrested a man described as a one-time king of foreclosures and his adult son. The U.S. marshals, assisted by the FBI, Waukesha County Sheriff's deputies and Pewaukee police took Todd Brunner and his 24-year-old son, Shawn, into custody at the home early Monday morning. The two have been indicted on bankruptcy and fraud charges. Prosecutors said they hid assets from bankruptcy court and that the elder Brunner tried to hide more than $7 million in assets from lenders. A warrant was issued Friday after they failed to appear in court. The Journal Sentinel profiled the collapse of Brunner's financial empire in 2011, which was built largely by buying hundreds of foreclosed homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Federal court records do not list an attorney for the Brunners.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:10:33 GMT

DNR to close fourth wolf hunt zone

Wisconsin officials are poised to close a fourth wolf hunting zone. The Department of Natural Resources plans to close Zone 5, an oval-shaped area in west-central Wisconsin, at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Hunters had killed 14 wolves in that zone as of Sunday, six shy of the zone's limit. The agency has already closed Zone 1, where hunters killed three more wolves than the 32-wolf limit; Zone 2, where hunters have taken 14 more wolves than the 15-animal limit; and Zone 4, where hunters have killed four wolves, four shy of the limit. Zones 3 and 6 remain open and are still dozens of animals under their limits. The wolf season began on Wednesday and will run until Feb. 28 or until hunters reach the statewide kill limit of 150 animals.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:43:40 GMT

Driver dead after truck hits house

A 22-year-old man is dead after the pickup truck he was driving hit a house in central Wisconsin. According to the Shawano County Sheriff's Department, the house was struck at about 2:40 a.m. Saturday on Highway 45 near the village of Birnamwood. Three people inside the house did not require medical attention at the scene. The driver, who lived in Birnamwood, died on the scene and a 21-year-old male passenger from Wittenberg was taken by helicopter to a hospital. His condition is not immediately known. The sheriff's department is still investigating.

Published: Sat, 18 Oct 2014 15:12:23 GMT

Schimel seeks more oversight of secret investigations

Republican attorney general candidate Brad Schimel wants lawmakers to give the attorney general’s office more power surrounding secret John Doe investigations. The Waukesha County district attorney said there is no way to take politics out of John Doe investigations, like when Milwaukee’s Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm went  looking for evidence that Gov. Scott Walker's recall staff, and about 30 conservative groups, had illegally been working together. Schimel wants to directly advise lawmakers and have them change the law to either give the attorney general's office, or an appellate court, new oversight. "I'll help the legislature with my experience in knowing the John Doe process. I'll help them with knowing the John Doe process to craft something that makes sense," Schimel said. "Some other checks and balances, to make sure that these kinds of cases don't get used as a political witch hunt." Schimel's Democratic opponent, Jefferson Co. District Attorney Susan Happ, said if there is a change it should be in how the attorney general assists local prosecutors with election law violations. “The current attorney general has indicated the reason he couldn't participate is because of his status as a Republican and Gov. Walker's status as a Republican. So I don't know how we fix that other than to say we have to have an attorney general who's willing to go after anyone,” Happ said during the first attorney general debate. The John Doe investigation remains on hold because the state judge overseeing the case put a stop to it in January. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is deciding what happens next. While Schimel said he feels a law change is coming, at this point there is at least no public indication that's in the works. The latest Marquette University poll shows Happ and Schimel tied, each with 42 percent support.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:41:54 GMT