CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Fire at Oconto High School appears to be suspicious
OCONTO -- Students at Oconto High School in northeast Wisconsin have been off since Wednesday morning, when a fire caused five-million dollars in smoke damage. Police and fire officials say it appears to be suspicious, and they have several leads on what started the blaze. Investigators have been reviewing security videos and interviewing students and staff members. The fire started in a boys' bathroom. Officials said a plastic composite in the stalls helped make the smoke thick and heavy. W-L-U-K T-V of Green Bay said the 300 Oconto High School students and 42 staffers will return to class on Monday at the middle school, where there are empty classrooms available. School officials hope the high school can re-open on May 12th.
The Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese took a small step forward yesterday to re-organize its finances and get out of its three-year-old bankruptcy. Federal Judge Susan Kelley agreed to work toward approving a disclosure statement, so creditors can learn details of the church's re-organization plan before voting on it. Most of the 575 creditors said they were sexually-abused many years ago by priests and others in the archdiocese. Kelley said the church needs to do more to explain why it created groups of creditors to be compensated, instead of just giving them money and have them divvy it up. Only 128 abuse victims would share about four-million dollars in damages -- while almost 450 others would get nothing. The archdiocese has claimed that it's only liable for abuse caused by its own priests -- and those abused by lay people and ministers in religious orders should ask them or their groups for compensation. The victims said the archdiocese is responsible for all priests and lay people working in its 10-county territory. Judge Kelley was hoping to set a date yesterday for a hearing on the church re-organization plan -- but both sides could not agree on how to proceed. She'll try again Tuesday.
Seventeen Michaels' arts-and-crafts stores in Wisconsin were affected by a recent data breach. That's what the company confirmed yesterday, when it offered a free year of identity theft protection and credit monitoring to the affected customers. An estimated two-point-six million debit-and-credit cards had data stolen from Michaels' stores nationally from last May through January 19th. Hackers used malicious software to steal the cards' payment numbers and expiration dates. Michaels said no personal information was taken -- and customers names-and-addresses remain safe along with their PIN numbers. The Wisconsin stores affected by the breach are in Brookfield, Brown Deer, Eau Claire, Germantown, Grafton, Grand Chute near Appleton, Green Bay, Janesville, Madison, Middleton, Milwaukee, Mount Pleasant, New Berlin, Onalaska, Plover, Wausau, and West Allis. More information is available online at Michaels-Dot-Com.
Prosecutors said an Oak Creek man killed his blind wife of 56 years because he couldn't take her nagging anymore. Seventy-six-year-old Jack Lang was charged yesterday in Milwaukee County with first-degree intentional homicide. A criminal complaint said Lang and his wife June were driving to lunch on Wednesday when she called him a baby, because he didn't feel well and he wanted to go home. When they got there, authorities said Lang took a 22-caliber gun from his closet, told his wife again to stop nagging him, and shot her when she didn't. Officials said he also tried killing himself, but two bullets missed and the other grazed him in the head. Lang then called 9-1-1 to report the shooting. Prosecutors said June had criticized her husband for no longer being able to do work around the house and quote, "He could not give her a good time anymore."
Two state Justice Department investigators who left after they delayed action on child pornography cases for months have been identified as Willie Brantley and Anna King. The A-P said Brantley was the special agent in charge of his Milwaukee office, and King was a special agent at the same facility. Attorney General J-B Van Hollen said both were responsible for delays that resulted in the molesting of an 11-year-old boy in one case -- and made the state's other case weaker. The two agents left almost a month ago. Officials would not say if they resigned, or were fired.