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Top Stories April 20, 2015

Report Sheds New Light On Beck Murder


4/20/15 - There's a report that Fond du Lac County sheriff's investigators made a number of missteps in probing the murder of Berit Beck, the woman whose body was found in a ditch near Waupun 25 years ago.  Gannett Wisconsin Media says it found a belief that Beck's van was long the target of the crime -- and not the 18-year-old Beck herself.  Authorities said she was driving from her Racine County home to a computer class in Appleton -- but she never made it there, and her van was found abandoned in Fond du Lac.  Her decomposed body was found a few weeks later along the roadside near Waupun.  Sixty-one year old Dennis Brantner was arrested in late March.  He has a preliminary hearing scheduled nine days from now on a first-degree murder charge.  The Gannett report said investigators were driven off-track for years by a theory that Craig Hron of West Bend killed Beck. Circumstantial evidence was cited, along with the fact that Hron was found to have Beck's hair brush.  He was never charged. Gannett called him a "convenient suspect" that might make Brantner's prosecution complicated. Brantner's lawyer said his client did not kill Beck.  Hron is serving a 25-year prison term for wounding Tammie Jollie in a stabbing incident almost two years ago in a Walmart parking lot in West Bend.


Columbus Fire Chief Identifies Hero’s In Fiery Rescue


4/20/15 - The Columbus Fire Chief has issued a correction to a press release from last week about the woman who was rescued from a fiery rollover.  The incident happened Thursday morning around 10:45am on Highway 151 near exit 115. The driver was trapped in her vehicle and the exhaust system caused the grass underneath to catch fire.  In the original press release written by Columbus Fire Lieutenant Jerrod Fox, it spoke of three bystanders removing the woman less than one minute before fire swept through the cab, fully engulfing the vehicle in flames…all of which happened before fire and EMS personnel arrived on scene. Fire Chief Randy Koehn says there was one thing missing from the press release written by Lt. Fox…it made no mention of the heroic efforts undertaken by Lt. Fox. In an email to us, Chief Koehn wrote (quote) “Jerrod, in his humble manner, did not want to toot his own horn and made no mention of the role he played…If he won’t give himself credit, I will.” In the chief’s updated press release, it notes that at the time of the page, Fox was returning to Columbus from a meeting and was about a mile from the crash.  Fox guided three bystanders in helping to get the driver’s door open, untangle the driver’s feet, and remove her from the car before the car was totally destroyed by fire.  The chief identified the good Samaritans as Cherno Chanbum of Madison, Richard Iorio of Saukville, and Zachary Bart of South Barrington, Illinois.  68-year-old Beatrice Dunning of Columbus was flown to UW Hospital Madison with non-life-threatening injuries.


‘Project Lifesaver’ May Be Heading To Dodge County


4/20/15 - A program to help the elderly and children with autism could be coming to Dodge County.  Project Lifesaver is intended to help these people at times when their caregivers aren’t around.  Sheriff Dale Schmidt says a band for either the wrist or ankle would alert law enforcement where that person is when they’re reported missing so they can be found quicker and brought back to a safe environment.  According to Schmidt, the Dementia Coalition in Beaver Dam may be willing to fund the effort.  He says the program would require initial training for his staff and monthly equipment checks to ensure they are working properly.  In addition to the family’s piece of mind, Schmidt says Project Lifesaver would greatly reduce the amount of resources needed in finding one of these missing persons.


State Legislature Considering Assistant DA Positions


4/20/15 - District Attorneys statewide may end up seeing some of the help they’ve requested.  After Governor Scott Walker did not include funding for any of the requested 107 assistant prosecutors being sought, some folks in the state legislature aren’t ready to dismiss the matter yet.  State Representative Mark Born feels some Wisconsin counties are in real need and says he began working with some of his assembly colleagues on a budget motion that would approve 26 or 27 new assistant DA positions.  According to the Beaver Dam Republican, it is the constitutional responsibility of the state to provide for public safety and ensure necessary justice for victims of crimes.  He says these things can’t always be done at the current staffing rates.  While Born says the problem can’t be fixed in just one budget, he hopes a step can be taken in the right direction.


Jagler Calling For Greater Awareness Of Garbage Truck Law


4/20/15 - A Watertown lawmaker who first proposed that traffic fines be doubled for speeding around garbage trucks says the industry needs to do more to promote the law.  Assembly Republican John Jagler says it irritates him that the trash-hauling industry has an opportunity to reach people, and they're not doing it.  Mark Friend was the inspiration for the 2013 law.  He lost part of his left leg two years ago, when a speeding car pinned him to his garbage truck while hauling trash.  Friend tells the A-P he's frustrated that accidents like his still take place with regularity.  He said his former employer, John's Disposal of Whitewater, had at least four cars run into its vehicles and workers since his mishap.  The company has not confirmed that.  The state D-O-T does keep track of accidents in which garbage haulers are hit.  In a survey last month, the National Waste-and-Recycling Association said less than a-third of U-S drivers slow down for garbage trucks -- far fewer than those stopping for police vehicles and school buses along the roadsides.  A national industry official says there's been at least some discussion of the Wisconsin "slow down law" on social media -- but the group is still working on signs for garbage trucks.


Fire Destroyed Iron Ridge Home, Garage


4/20/15 - No one was hurt in a fire that destroyed a home and garage in Iron Ridge early Sunday morning. The fire on Main Street began shortly after 2am. No one was hurt in the blaze that spread to an adjacent garage and home. Firefighters prevented it from seriously damaging that second structure. The fire destroyed one home, both garages and three cars. About a dozen fire departments battled the fire in the Dodge County community.


SWAT Team Smashes Window To Nab Shoplifting Suspect


4/20/15 - The City of Fond du Lac Police SWAT took a woman into custody by smashing the window of her Mercedes Benz and pulling her out. The incident started Saturday afternoon around 4:30pm near the Forest Mall. A Montello woman is accused of assaulting a security officer at the Kohl’s Store as she fled the store with a large amount of merchandise. The 32-year-old reportedly refused to pull over for police as she exited the parking lot. The SWAT team later surrounded her stopped vehicle. Law enforcement dressed in riot gear tried to negotiate with the woman by phone for nearly an hour before smashing the driver’s side window, pulling her out and placing her in handcuffs.


First Quarter Vehicle Sales Outpacing 2014


4/20/15 - Vehicle sales are booming so far this year. According to the Waterloo-based industry tracking firm Reg-Trak, car and light truck sales in Dodge County for the first three months of 2015 were up four-percent with 795 vehicles rolling off dealer lots compared to 762 by this time last year. Columbia County year-to-date sales are up nearly 15-percent with 578 sales, 75 more than the first quarter of last year. Jefferson County saw 672 sales up from 540, an increase of 25-percent. The region as a whole was up nearly 13-percent this quarter. Car sales in the nine-county, south central region were down one-percent 3457 sold but truck sales led the charge with 6761 sold an increase of 22-percent.


Yesterday's Headlines
Two Injured In Vehicle Rollover

- No Evidence Found In Shooting
- Dodge Co. Could Join 'Blue Zone'

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.