RED CLIFF, Wis. -- A former vice chairman of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa pleaded not guilty Monday, July 27, to killing an employee in 2003.

Michael James LaGrew, 55, of Red Cliff, Wis., entered the plea at a remote hearing in Bayfield County Circuit Court.

LaGrew was charged in March with first-degree intentional homicide in the bludgeoning death of 50-year-old Jody Ricard, who went missing from the band's offices June 23, 2003. Ricard's body was found hidden along a dead-end road 11 days later, but authorities said they did not have enough evidence to charge LaGrew until recent investigative efforts led to him admitting that he struck the victim with a tire jack during an argument and took efforts to conceal her body.

LaGrew remains in the Bayfield County Jail on $500,000 bail. Judge John Kelly McKnight scheduled a status conference in the case for Nov. 23.

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