Sheriff pledges deep investigation into triple murder

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Mike DuPre'
Saturday, January 13, 2007
— Investigators will work around the clock until they arrest the person or persons responsible for the second triple homicide in Rock County history, Sheriff Bob Spoden said Friday evening.

Spoden confirmed that the dead are Danyetta G. Lentz, 38, and her children, Nicole R. Lentz, 17, and Scott L. Lentz, 14.

He called their deaths a triple homicide.

They lived at 3315 S. Highway 51, No. 37, in Janesville Terrace, a mobile home park owned by Jacob Homes.

Spoden was tight-lipped about details of what he termed a "rather horrific crime."

The sheriff would not divulge how the victims apparently were killed, where the bodies were found in the mobile home, if any weapons were found or when the murders probably occurred.

Russ Lucht, Danyetta's father, called 911 at 9:34 a.m. Friday. The Lentzes had an apparently normal day at work and school Thursday, Spoden said.

Investigators are talking to neighbors, co-workers and classmates of the Lentzes but by late Friday did not have any "persons of interest" in the case, Spoden said.

He declined to comment on whether the department had any suspects.

"I want to assure all citizens of this community and Rock County that all resources of the Rock County Sheriff's Department have been dedicated to this investigation," Spoden said. "Our detectives and our officers will be working around the clock on this horrendous crime. Our sympathies, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims' family and friends."

A check of The Janesville Gazette's records found six double homicides in Rock County dating to 1938 and the deaths of three Janesville residents in an arson fire in 1979. Several of the double homicides were followed by the killers' suicides.

The bodies were to be transported under sheriff's department escort to the VA Hospital in Madison, where autopsies were to be conducted today. Autopsies in murder cases are standard, said Cmdr. Tom Gehl of the sheriff's department.

Investigators from the sheriff's department and State Crime Laboratory were expected to work past midnight at the crime scene, and deputies will be stationed in the trailer park to secure the scene, Spoden said.

"We don't want to miss any clues or evidence," he said. "We will examine every aspect of the scene."

Lucht said in an interview with The Janesville Gazette that he went to his daughter's home when the staff at Community Kids Learning Center, the day care where she worked, called him to say his daughter hadn't reported to work.

Lucht couldn't get in the locked trailer door, but he was able to crawl through the window.

Blood was all over the mobile home's interior, he said, and he saw his daughter in a hall.

"I went looking for the kids (because) they weren't at school," he said.

When he found them, he fled the trailer in horror and called police from a neighbor's home.

Lentz worked her normal shift of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the day-care center, said Lisa Furseth, Community Action executive director.

A neighbor, Angela Puckett, said Lentz's window was repaired two months ago, after someone tried to break in.

Nicole Lentz's boyfriend tried to call Puckett three times around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Puckett said. She did not speak to him on the phone at the time but said he frequently called her when he could not reach Nicole.

Another neighbor, Kathy Van Zandt, said she hadn't heard anything unusual, although she had been awake until 4 a.m. Friday.

While the trailer park has the "same quality of life issues as any neighborhood," deputies had not responded to the Lentz home for any disturbance, abuse or neglect calls that he knew of, Spoden said.

Detectives at the scene commented that they did not know the Lentzes from any previous contacts.

Seventeen people from the sheriff's department-detectives, deputies and supervisors-were involved into the investigation Friday. The department also called the State Crime Lab, which dispatched a mobile forensic laboratory to the scene.

Counseling would be made available to any sheriff's department personnel who feel they need it, Spoden said.

"Whenever you have three homicides, it's traumatic for anybody. Our officers are human; they're fathers and mothers, too," the sheriff said.

"We will work around the clock to ensure the community's safety," Spoden said.

Gazette reporters Marcia Nelesen and Ann Marie Ames contributed to this article.

Last updated: 11:08 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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