Janesville police looking for more bodies after one is found Monday

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Frank Schultz and Shelly Birkelo
Monday, May 5, 2014

JANESVILLE—Janesville police are working to find out if a woman's disappearance Friday, a stabbing Sunday night and a dead body found Monday morning are related.

And they're looking for more bodies.

If the three cases are connected, the connecting point could be Clayton J. Courtney, the 28-year-old Janesville resident with a criminal past.

Courtney is accused in the stabbing of one of his roommates Sunday night.

Police were looking into whether Courtney told the truth while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and in a violent rage just before the stabbing, when he allegedly said: “I've already killed three people tonight.”

Police on Monday released a photo of Courtney's grinning face, splattered with mud and blood while he was being checked out at a Janesville hospital.

Police said the mud was not consistent with the scene of the stabbing, which happened in the kitchen of Courtney's residence, 1602 N. Pontiac Drive.

Police are asking for the public's help, including if someone comes across a scene where Courtney might have gotten muddied.

Janesville Police Chief David Moore cautioned that the investigation is in its early stages. He called the body and the missing-person cases “perhaps unrelated.”

Moore held a news conference Monday and discussed the body, the stabbing and Mary Coulthard's disappearance.

More bodies could be found, police say in news conference (11:31)

Coulthard's possible connection to the other cases was not clear, except that she lived and was last seen a few blocks from where the body was found.

Coulthard lives at 208 N. Main St. Her water bottle was found nearby on the Milwaukee Street Bridge on Sunday morning, and another personal belonging was found near the bridge.

Police searched from the air, land and on the river Sunday but found nothing.

Moore said the search for Coulthard has not been set aside because of the investigation into a potential homicide.

Police were told Courtney had planned to meet a woman under the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Sunday night where he planned to drink and do drugs. Courtney had several girlfriends, Moore said, and police were trying to figure out which one he planned to meet.

Police were called to Courtney's residence shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday. They were told Courtney had tried to set a vehicle on fire in the attached garage of his residence. Then, in a rage, police said, Courtney attacked a male roommate, Michael J. Clark, 28.

Courtney is accused of stabbing Clark several times, including a blow that was close to being fatal. Clark was released from the hospital Monday.

During his rage, Courtney said: “I've already killed three people tonight” and “We are all going to die,” police said in a news release.

“If we take Mr. Courtney at his word,” there could be bodies still undiscovered, Moore said.

Courtney also threatened to harm the unborn child of a female roommate, police said. The woman's two small children also were at the house at the time of the attack.

Clark was taken to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center and was reported to be going into surgery, Sgt. Jim Holford told The Gazette on Monday before the possible connection among the three cases was raised.

Courtney also was taken to Mercy after he complained of an ankle injury, but no such injury was found, and he was taken to the Rock County Jail, where he was held pending a court appearance Tuesday.

“We know he was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine at the time of his arrest, but we don't know what set him off or what caused his outburst. We're still investigating that,” Holford said.

Because Courtney told police he had planned to meet a woman under the Veterans Memorial Bridge, officers searched along the river Monday and at 5:45 a.m. found a female body.

The body was behind the former Schuler furniture store at 533 N. Main St. in what Moore described as “an enclave.”

A Gazette photographer could see police around a narrow gap between two buildings that had been the Schuler store.

“It's concerning that we start backtracking his steps and we find a body,” Moore said.

Moore said the body appeared much too young to be Coulthard.

Police have a tentative identity for the dead female but would not say who it is until it's confirmed, Moore said later Monday.

Moore said he hoped an autopsy would reveal by Tuesday how the female died.

Courtney has a criminal record, including two convictions for misdemeanor battery, in 2007 and 2011.

Courtney's Facebook page says he is a 2004 graduate of Janesville Parker High School and attended Blackhawk Technical College.

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