Investigation continues into fire that killed students; Ladysmith man accused of strangling another in fight over money; more briefsWisconsin News
An Eau Claire fire inspector says there are still lots of questions to be answered about the Oct. 8 apartment fire that killed two college students from Minnesota. But Gary Puljas said the blaze appears to have started in one of the apartment’s four bedrooms.
An Eau Claire fire inspector says there are still lots of questions to be answered about the Oct. 8 apartment fire that killed two college students from Minnesota.
But Gary Puljas said the blaze appears to have started in one of the apartment’s four bedrooms.
Jacob Clarkson and Ross Livermore, both 21 from Stillwater, Minn., were killed. Two other U-W Eau Claire students from Stillwater escaped with minor injuries.
Puljas said investigators were still trying to determine if the electrical outlets were overloaded and what types of appliances, including space heaters, were in the apartment.
The blaze occurred above a real estate office. The building’s owner said there were three smoke detectors in the apartment.
Puljas said investigators are still trying to determine if the smoke detectors were working or if they had batteries. He said more would be known in early November after fire inspectors and insurance adjusters look at the wreckage.
Ladysmith man accused of strangling another in fight over money
A northwest Wisconsin man is accused of strangling another man after an argument about money and then burying his body two counties away.
Larry Fernandez, 45, of Ladysmith was charged Tuesday in Eau Claire County with first-degree intentional homicide.
A $1 million bond was set for Fernandez during his initial court appearance. He’s due back Oct. 30 when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to put him on trial.
Police said Fernandez strangled Brian Harvey, 52, with a belt in August at the victim’s home in Eau Claire, and Fernandez then dumped the body in his home county of Rusk.
Eau Claire Police Chief Jerry Matysik said another man saw the incident, and Fernandez tried to pin the murder on him.
Harvey’s remains were found Monday. The victim’s identity was confirmed during an autopsy.
Damages estimated at over $1 million on state’s largest dairy farm
Damage could exceed $1 million in a fire Tuesday at Wisconsin’s largest dairy farm.
The blaze broke out yesterday afternoon at the Rosendale Dairy near Pickett in Fond du Lac County. Authorities said hay was ignited in a storage building for grain feed. It may have happened when a tractor pulled into the structure.
Bill Harke of the dairy's owner, Milk Source, said two workers tried using fire extinguishers to put the flames out. When they couldn’t, the dairy called 911. Several fire departments helped put out the blaze.
Harke said about $500,000 worth of feed was lost. Damage to the commodity shed was between $500,000 and $1 million.
Harke said feed was being delivered from some of the company’s other dairies so the 8,400 cows at Rosendale will not miss a feeding.
Judge says elderly woman competent to stand trial in decades-old murder of baby
A judge in Sheboygan has ruled that a 76-year-old woman is mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of her baby daughter in 1957.
Ruby Klokow was supposed to go on trial in early September, but her lawyer wanted the mental exam to determine if she could help with her own defense.
Circuit Judge Angela Sutkiewicz reviewed the doctor’s report before deciding that Klokow is competent. The judge and attorneys on both sides will meet Nov. 6 to set another trial date.
Klokow is charged with second degree murder in the death of seven-month-old Jeaneen Klokow 55 years ago.
The charge was filed in February of last year after Klokow’s son James went to police in 2008 with horrific stories of child abuse. Among other things, he said his mother kicked him with steel-toed boots so often that he still has problems with his knees.
Roundy’s customer complain when no one wins big prizes
Some Wisconsin grocery customers are grumbling after nobody won the top prizes in a Monopoly game that was played at Roundy’s stores from May through August.
Customers received free game pieces at Pick ‘n Save, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano’s stores.
Only a third of the $4.5 million in prizes were actually awarded. The top eight prizes were all unclaimed, including a $250,000 house, a new car and a $30,000 kitchen makeover.
Multiple pieces were needed to win each prize, and two extremely rare pieces were needed to win the house.
Roundy’s is based in Milwaukee where the Journal Sentinel quoted a statistical professor as saying the odds of winning the house were one in 575 billion at the most. Those odds were 33 times worse than the chances of winning the Powerball jackpot which is only one in 175 million.
The newspaper said folks whined on message boards, but nobody filed a complaint with the state’s consumer protection agency.
The company said the game was meant to be fun and provide value for customers. It was also played last year, but Roundy’s said fewer people played this year.
Officer says woman bit him
A 41-year-old woman faces possible charges after she allegedly bit a police officer’s arm in Jackson in Washington County.
Police said they were called Monday afternoon to a manufactured home complex where a man told officers that his girlfriend was trying to drive away while drunk.
Officials said the woman left one vehicle and entered another, ignoring police commands to stop. After she started the second vehicle, police said the officer reached inside, and the woman bit the officer’s forearm.
Police said they had to restrain the woman after she fought being removed from the vehicle. They later found a suicide note in one unit and knives in both vehicles. Officials said the woman was taken to a hospital.
Accused arsonist is former volunteer fireman
A man accused of setting a number of fires in northeast Wisconsin used to volunteer to put out those blazes.
The Green Bay Press Gazette says Drew Christensen, 28, spent six years on the Brazeau Fire Department until he was released 18 months ago for missing departmental meetings due to his job.
Brazeau Fire Chief John Fetterly said Christensen did not do anything wrong when he served and left the department on good terms.
On Monday, Christensen was charged with two counts of arson for allegedly starting a garage and a mobile home on fire since last August.
Prosecutors said he admitted setting six blazes, including one that heavily damaged the Klondike Community Church in March. Officials say charges in that blaze and others are pending, and state Department of Justice investigators are trying to determine if Christensen had anything to do with over three dozen other fires in Oconto and other nearby counties in recent years.
Fetterly said he was relieved at first that an arrest was made in some of the blazes, but he later got angry, knowing that a former firefighter could jeopardize lives and put stress on fire suppression efforts.
Chamber of Commerce endorses Thompson
A Senate Republican and a top U.S. Chamber official said Tommy Thompson had a great pro-business record as Wisconsin’s governor and he’ll build on it if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate.
The national Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Thompson over his Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin.
Chamber Senior Vice President Rob Engstrom and Missouri Senator Roy Blunt appeared with the Republican Thompson at a factory in Milwaukee.
The U.S. Chamber has already spent $1.6 million on TV ads that attacked Baldwin. Engstrom said Baldwin has only supported business 13% of the time in her House votes in 2010 and 2011.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President Kurt Bauer criticized Baldwin’s support of the Obama health care act and her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline which would bring Canadian crude oil to the U.S.
Thompson said he would boost the economy by pushing for a balanced federal budget and reducing the deficits. He also wants to end a 35% tax on off-shore investments, saying it would generate $1 trillion in new business capital.
Baldwin’s campaign issued a statement claiming that Thompson’s ideas would send more U.S. jobs overseas and that Baldwin has a strong record of helping small businesses and middle-class families.
Treasurer accused of embezzling $130,000 from ambulance service
A former treasurer for a public ambulance service in Marinette County is scheduled to enter a plea Dec. 14 to charges that she embezzled over $132,000.
Amanda Stumbris, 41, of Wausaukee has waived her right to a preliminary hearing and was ordered to stand trial on four felony counts of theft from a business setting.
Prosecutors said Stumbris used a debit card from the Wausaukee Rescue Squad to withdraw cash for herself. Officials said the money was used for gambling, movies and satellite TV service. The thefts occurred over a period of three years.