WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Fallout from the 12-year-old girls charged with homicide continues
The neighbors apparently didn't see it coming. Those who live near two 12-year-old Waukesha stabbing suspects said the girls had appeared to be well-adjusted, and had good loving parents. The girls are charged as adults with attempted homicide, after they allegedly dragged a 12-year-old friend into a wooded area last Friday during a sleep-over, and stabbed her 19 times. The victim is still hospitalized. The two suspects lived in the same apartment complex. One told police they were trying to curry favor with the fictional character Slender Man from a Web site that features horror stories. The Creepy Pasta site defended itself yesterday. It wrote on its blog that it never condones violence, and the fiction is meant to be just that. The family of one suspect posted a note on its door asking for privacy. A few neighbors said they saw nothing amiss. Paul Plotkin said one girl is from a "normal middle class family" -- and the incident showed that no matter how hard parents try to instill good values, "things can still go wrong." Waukesha school officials said they had their normal complement of counselors and grief management personnel on hand Monday, and it was enough to handle the demand. An attorney for one of the girls said he would ask a judge to approve mental health treatment. Lawyers for both plan to ask that the cases be heard in juvenile court, where they could more help and less confinement if convicted.
The subject of a manhunt in a northwest Wisconsin was captured yesterday, after he exchanged gunfire with officers at the end of a chase. Authorities tried twice since last Friday to arrest 32-year-old Jared Brendel of Barron -- but he managed to elude officers after crashing one vehicle in a ditch and getting another stuck in a field. Yesterday, Barron County sheriff's deputies were tipped off about a man walking in a field -- and they later found a car without license plates. A deputy tried stopping the car, but a ten-mile chase ensued into Dunn County. During the chase, officers said they discovered that the car was stolen, and Brendel was driving it. Officials said the suspect managed to drive around stop-sticks that were meant to deflate his tires -- and a deputy ended up using a maneuver to force the stolen car into a ditch. As soon as that happened, deputies said Brendel fired shots at the officers. They returned fire, but nobody was struck. Three Barron County deputies are on administrative leave while the shootings are being investigated.
____________________For the second year in a row, tuition will be frozen this fall for in-state undergraduates attending the University of Wisconsin. But the proposed U-W budget includes a three-point-six percent hike in students' segregated fees -- plus an average two-point-seven percent increase for room-and-board at the four-year campuses. University president Ray Cross blames rising food costs -- plus expenses for new-and-improved dormitories and facility maintenance. He said the higher fees would cover student programs, major projects, and increases in compensation. All told, the president has given the Board of Regents a six-point-one billion dollar budget to run the 26 campuses for the next school year. That's one-point-seven percent more than the previous year. The Regents will review the budget later this week, when they meet at U-W Milwaukee. The tuition freeze was ordered by the governor and Legislature a year ago, after an audit discovered large cash reserves at the various campuses. The budget calls for a 15-percent drop in the cash balances.
A plea deal is being negotiated for an Eau Claire man accused of shooting an assault rifle at a sheriff's deputy several times, before he was shot back. Forty-seven year old Paul Lynch had pleaded insanity to Eau Claire County charges of attempted homicide, shooting while intoxicated, disorderly conduct, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Yesterday, Lynch's attorney said two psychological tests of his client both came up negative. As a result, he most likely will not be able to use an insanity defense. Authorities said Lynch had threatened a female landlord after she told him to leave for violating her house rules -- and when officers responded, Lynch exchanged gunfire with a deputy who shot him. Lynch is jailed under a 25-thousand dollar cash bond. He's due back in court July 14th, when the status of his case will be reviewed.
A Wausau man has died in an S-U-V crash in North Dakota. The state's Highway Patrol said 58-year-old Timothy Stark lost control on a curve, veered onto the left shoulder, tried to over-correct, and landed in the right ditch where the S-U-V rolled over. Stark died later at a hospital in Valley City North Dakota. The crash remains under investigation. It happened early Monday near Fingal, about ten miles south of Interstate-94 on Highway 32. Officers said Stark was not wearing a seat-belt at the time.
In a rare occurrence, large ice chunks on Lake Superior lingered into June near Wisconsin's Apostle Islands. The National Weather Service said it was the eighth straight month that ice lingered somewhere on Lake Superior. Among other things, it put a crimp into the recent bird and nature festival at the Apostles. Neil Howk of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore said his boat could not reach certain spots during his tours at the festival. Howk said there were "icebergs" everywhere last month. He tells the Duluth News-Tribune he's never seen such ice conditions at the Apostles since he began working in the area in 1983. Meanwhile, a Michigan research team expects water levels on Lake Superior to rise faster than normal -- because the cold spring has delayed the normal evaporation on the lake. The scientists found that surface water will be at least six-degrees colder than normal by August in the deepest sections of Lake Superior. Climatologist John Lenters says the result could be a rise in water levels of up to ten inches by next spring, depending on the precipitation between now and then.
Wisconsin farmers have almost caught up with their normal corn planting, and most of what's popping up is in great shape. According to new federal figures, 86-percent of this year's Wisconsin corn crop was planted as of Sunday. That's four-percent less than the five-year average for the date. Just over half the crop has emerged, and 80-percent of it is rated good-to-excellent. Sixty-nine percent of the state's soybeans have been planted. That's up by a whopping 30-percent from a week ago, and it's only two points behind the norm. Ninety-one percent of the Wisconsin oat crop is in the ground, six-percent behind the average. Observers say the recent hot and dry weather is just what the doctor ordered for growing crops and making hay. However, many farmers hit a snag after heavy rains on Sunday and Monday. Some areas had close to four-inches of rain during those storms.
As things dried up yesterday, most flood warnings were canceled along rivers in western Wisconsin. The only warning still in effect is on the Mississippi River at Wabasha, across from Buffalo County. The river was more than a foot below its flood stage this morning. The National Weather Service now expects it to rise above its banks on Saturday before cresting Sunday night. Only minor flooding is projected. Forecasters say we'll have a partly cloudy day today, with scattered light rain in southern Wisconsin into this afternoon. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow and Friday, with a slight chance of rain coming through. Highs are expected to be generally in the 70's throughout the Badger State at least through Sunday.
Wisconsin's largest airport continues to get more business. A new report shows that 575-thousand people flew in-and-out of Milwaukee's Mitchell International in April -- six-point-four percent more than the same month a year ago. Interim airport director Terry Blue said passenger traffic is up by around three-percent for the first four months of the year. He expects things to get much busier heading into the summer travel season.
A second case of the West Nile virus has been confirmed -- this one in a dead crow discovered during annual bird testing in Portage County. The first case was also found in a dead crow. It happened last month in Dodge County. State health officials say it's a sign that infected mosquitoes are in those areas, and people are urged to take precautions so they don't become a human statistic. People, birds, and horses all get West Nile from mosquito bites, and the mosquitoes get it by feasting on infected birds. We normally don't hear about human West Nile cases until later in the summer. Most come in August and September. Wisconsin had 16 human West Nile cases last year -- way down from 2012, when four state residents died as the virus spiked through the nation's mid-section.
Those who collect and study dragonflies will have a chance to learn more about their hobbies at national-and-state meetings in northwest Wisconsin this month. The Wisconsin Dragonfly Society will co-host meetings with the Dragonfly Society of the Americas in Ladysmith. The gathering takes place June 13th, 14th, and 15th at the Rusk County Community Library. Also, trips are being organized for June 11th and 12th to study local habitats. They'll be heading to the Beaver Creek Nature Center on the Eau Claire River.