CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Waukesha man pleads guilty to homicide
A Waukesha man has pleaded guilty to killing three retired members of a rural southwest Wisconsin family. 31-year-old Jaren Kuester was convicted yesterday, after Judge William Foust ruled that he was mentally competent to proceed. A hearing will be held January 31st to determine whether Kuester was insane when he killed Gary, Chloe, and Dean Thoreson in April at their family's farmhouse near South Wayne in Lafayette County. He was found incompetent to stand trial in October, but defense lawyer Guy Taylor said Kuester got a lot better after his medication was adjusted. Authorities said a series of incidents was triggered in late April, when Kuester went to a Waukesha animal shelter to see his pet, and he threatened employees who told him the pet died two weeks earlier. Officials said he later drove to Green County where he abandoned an S-U-V, ran through a wooded area, broke into the Thoreson house, killed the family members with a fireplace poker when they returned, and then drove a victim's pick-up truck to his father's home in Waukesha. He was arrested there the day after the murders.
A west central Wisconsin woman is due in court Monday for a traffic crash that killed a motorcyclist 14 months ago. 26-year-old Randi Rupnow of Taylor was charged this week with negligent homicide in the death of 28-year-old Jesse Rauk of Neillsville. Jackson County authorities said Rupnow's van turned into the path of Rauk's oncoming motorcycle last October 10th on Highway 12-27 in the town of Adams. Investigators said Rupnow failed to see the oncoming motorcyclist for what they called an "undetermined reason." Rupnow told authorities she slowed down to turn into a parking lot to pick up her son, and she never saw the motorcycle before it hit her van. The crash happened during daylight -- just after 10 in the morning -- and a witness said the bike had its headlight on. Officials said weather was not a factor.
A Milwaukee man electrocuted while he was allegedly breaking into a north side tire shop has been identified as 38-year-old Devon Williams. The incident happened Monday morning at Greer Tire. Authorities said Williams was apparently cutting through copper-and-aluminum electrical wires that were attached to a security system. He was found partially hanging from the roof of the tire shop -- and officials said he might have been trying to steal copper inside. The shop is in an area where numerous thefts of copper wire have been reported. Investigators believe a second person may also have been involved -- and that person might have fled after the electrocution.
A 37-year-old man allegedly killed a woman, then held Kenosha Police at bay for 10 hours before he was arrested yesterday. Officials it all started around 5 a-m, when the man's brother called police and reported the killing. When officers arrived, the suspect refused to leave the house and cooperate with the police. SWAT teams and emergency crews closed off several blocks surrounding the home. Media reports said a nearby school kept children inside during their recess periods. About three yesterday afternoon, tactical officers detonated a loud noise-making device and entered the home. Police said the man surrendered without incident, and they found the dead woman's body in the home's basement. No names were immediately released.
The biological father of Alexis Patterson, a Milwaukee girl who's been missing for over 11 years, has pleaded innocent to beating another of his daughters. 40-year-old Kenya Carlton Campbell waived a preliminary hearing yesterday on three felony child abuse charges and a felony count of child neglect. A trial date of March 24th was set in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. According to prosecutors, Campbell claimed that his eight-month-old daughter fell from a couch last month -- but doctors later found that she had extreme abusive head trauma, a broken jaw, and a cut liver. Court records showed that the girl's mother sought a restraining order this summer to end Campbell's weekly visits with the girl. Neither party showed up at a court hearing in late July, and the matter was dropped. Alexis Patterson's disappearance made national news back in 2002, when she went missing on her way to school in Milwaukee when she was seven. Campbell had divorced Alexis' mother before then -- and she was remarried when Alexis vanished.
A grieving family in Madison was robbed of memories yesterday, when a memorial box of sympathy cards went missing from a church funeral service. Relatives of 89-year-old Raymond Riphon believe somebody entered Saint Bernard Catholic Church behind their backs, and stole a box filled with stories and memories about the deceased -- and condolences for the family. Daughter Linda Stanley told WKOW TV it felt like "a real violation" that somebody would take such a thing -- especially in a church where people should feel safe. Stanley said Riphon found Saint Bernard to be a place of solace, after his father was killed on duty as a Madison police officer in 1932. The family placed a newspaper lost-and-found ad, and it was planning to tell Madison Police about what happened. In the meantime, they're hoping the apparent thief will return the cards and memories. Stanley said she doesn't care about the monetary donations, if the thief really needs them. She's much more concerned about getting the cards back, so they can help with her healing process.