Looking back at 2007: Death, taxes and GM
Just less than a year ago, Russ Lucht discovered his daughter, Danyetta Lentz, and her two teenage children, Nicole and Scott, murdered in their blood-spattered mobile home.
That’s the top local story of the year as picked by members of The Janesville Gazette newsroom.
The only suspect in Rock County’s worst crime in history, James Koepp, is in prison, but not on a murder conviction.
Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary still has not charged Koepp with the murders, although Sheriff Bob Spoden remains convinced that Koepp is the sole suspect in the triple homicide.
O’Leary had been waiting for all lab reports and analyses of the massive amount of physical evidence collected in the case by the Rock County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory.
Those reports apparently are in, and O’Leary and Spoden soon will review the paperwork so O’Leary can decide if and how to charge Koepp in the triple murder.
Koepp, 48, was a neighbor of the Lentzes at Janesville Terrace, a mobile–home park just south of Janesville on Highway 51.
He is in prison on a four-year sentence for recklessly endangering safety and third-offense drunken driving. The convictions stem from a chase on which he led deputies when he was supposed to be talking to detectives about the Lentz murders.
Delavan murders: Neighbors watched in shock, and the national media descended on Delavan after Ambrosio Analco shot and killed five others before taking his own life inside a Second Street duplex June 9.
Police believe Analco, 23, killed his ex-girlfriend, Nicole M. McAffee, 19; their infant twin sons, Argenis and Isaiah; Nicole’s sister, Ashley L. Huerta, 21; and their friend, Vanessa L. Iverson, 19. Jasmine Analco, who is McAffee and Analco’s 20-month-old daughter, survived a gunshot to the chest.
Gaspar Huerta, Ashley’s husband, escaped by jumping off a second-story balcony and running to a neighbor’s to call police.
“I was inside of my house, and my sister-in-law, her boyfriend comes and starts shooting everybody,” Gaspar told the dispatcher.
District Attorney Phil Koss said it was the worst carnage he and police have seen.
Without a doubt, it was the worst crime in city history, Delavan Police Chief Tim O’Neill said.
Death of Ken Hendricks: Successful businessman and philanthropist Ken Hendricks died Dec. 21 after a fall at his Afton home.
Hendricks, founder of the Beloit-based ABC Supply, died after falling through a tarp while inspecting construction work at his home.
Hendricks was remembered at services in Beloit in Janesville as a devout family man who was most interested in taking society’s castaways and helping them become productive again, whether they were businesses, properties or people.
General Motors strike: Workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Janesville joined thousands of their union brethren in September in a strike over national contract negotiations.
Agreement was reached 40 hours after the walkout, which was considered largely symbolic. The national contract, which was ratified in Janesville by 62 percent of workers casting ballots, ultimately won full approval from the United Auto Workers.
The four-year contract includes product commitments for several plants—including Janesville—a two-tier wage system for new employees and a trust fund to pay the health care costs of retired workers and their dependents.
Police kill Clinton man: One man is dead and his mother-in-law injured, ending months of run-ins with the law.
Timothy Harrington, 36, opened fire at a house at 207 Mill St., Clinton, about 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18.
Shots hit Harrington’s mother-in-law, Marilyn Smith, 58. She remained in serious condition Sunday night at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Rockford.
A Clinton police officer and a Rock County sheriff’s deputy then shot and killed Harrington.
Up to four of Harrington’s children were in the home and in “grave peril” at the time of the shooting, Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.
In August, Harrington had been involved in a standoff with the sheriff’s department at his home in Bradford Township. It ended peacefully.
National champs: Almost everybody said it couldn’t be done, but UW-Whitewater’s football team believed in itself. The Warhawks proved critics wrong by stunning top-ranked Mount Union (Ohio) in the NCAA Division III national championship game.
Justin Beaver, winner of the Gagliardi Trophy as the nation’s top Division III player, put the crowning touch on a stellar career and Lance Leipold’s first year as the Warhawks’ head coach. Beaver rushed for 249 yards in a 31-21 triumph that broke Mount Union’s 37-game winning streak.
Whitewater had lost to Mount Union in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl at Salem, Va., the two previous years, but the third time was the charm. The Warhawks made it happen with a near-perfect performance in which they grabbed a 7-0 lead on quarterback Danny Jones’ first-quarter touchdown and never trailed against a team that had averaged 54.1 points a game.
“You have just done something that will bond you for the rest of your lives,’’ Leipold told his 14-1 team. “The community, the university and the state are proud of you.’’
Staskal released: Mark Staskal, who stabbed his sister, Marcy, to death in 1984 in their Milton home, was released from Mendota Mental Health Institute for 10 days before being returned to the secure facility.
Staskal had been confined at Mendota for 23 years after being found not guilty of murder because of mental illness.
A little less than a year ago, Rock County Judge Michael Byron ruled that Staskal should be released with conditions.
Staskal’s parents, Redgie and Melly Staskal of Milton, oppose their son’s release. They fear he might kill again, and they think that Mendota’s safe, secure and structured environment is best for their son.
Sixteen facilities rejected Staskal’s placement before a group home in Eau Claire accepted him in November. But he was there only 10 days.
Staskal told a member of his conditional-release team that he was having violent daydreams, and the Department of Health and Family Services sent him back to Mendota.
The department asked Byron to revoke Staskal’s conditional release, but on Dec. 19, Byron refused. He ordered the state to develop a new conditional-release plan that addresses what the state thinks is Staskal’s need for daily psychiatric monitoring.
Staskal is living at Mendota, pending the judge’s approval of the new plan.
Monterey rape and robbery: Police initially arrested the wrong man in the late September robbery of a teenage Janesville couple and the rape of the girl.
But within five days, the cops released the wrong suspect—32-year-old Antonio Polland—and arrested Kenneth D. Jarrett, 20, of Janesville.
Jarrett is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of armed robbery. His next court date is Feb. 6.
The case against Polland started to unravel after police announced his arrest three days after the attack on the teens, which happened on a Friday night in the Monterey Park neighborhood.
After police announced Polland’s arrest, The Janesville Gazette published his photo and posted it on its Web site. The rape victim saw the picture, and her relatives called authorities to tell them that Polland was not the man who assaulted her.
Other evidence—a jacket and a particular brand of cigarettes—seemed to link Polland to the crimes, but that evidence also pertained to Jarrett.
Polland and other members of his household lied to investigators, Janesville Police Chief Neal Mahan said at the time, and detectives thought they had the correct suspect based on their investigation when they arrested Polland.
Shrinking county board: A voter-initiated referendum in April shrunk the Walworth County Board from 25 to 11 supervisors.
Citizens for Responsible Government, a conservative taxpayers’ group, spearheaded the effort. Nearly 54 percent of county voters approved a smaller board.
The downsizing was the biggest in the state.
Most of the incumbent supervisors favored a larger board or at least waiting until the 2010 census, when district lines would need to be redrawn anyway.
With 11 supervisors, six votes will be needed to pass most issues.
The board downsized itself from 35 to 25 supervisors in the 2002 election.
Hotly contested races are expected in most of the districts when the reduction takes effect in April.
Janesville aquatics facility: Plans for a new pool in Janesville have been constantly flowing since March 2006, when a committee began studying possibilities for construction.
In February, the committee recommended upgrading the 27-year-old pool at Rockport Park and building a facility at Palmer Park and splash pads throughout the city.
The total cost would have been $9 million.
Four months later, City Manager Steve Sheiffer added Dawson Field, Traxler Park and the National Guard Armory as possible locations for the $5 million to $7 million facility.
Early this month, Sheiffer said the city couldn’t afford a new pool and said he would recommend an upgrade at Rockport.
The city will host its first public hearing on the issue at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Municipal Building, 18 N. Jackson St, Janesville.