Janesville68.2°

Residents express relief, anger

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Stacy Vogel
January 18, 2007

Customers seeking coffee and eggs had one topic of conversation this morning at Kadee's Kafe.


"Every person that's come in here, including employees, has said, 'Did you hear?'" said Ginger McWilliams, a waitress at the cafe, 1322 W. Memorial Drive.


She didn't have to explain what she meant.


Everyone knew she was talking about the arrest in connection with last week's triple homicide. The arrest was announced in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.


Janesville residents are relieved as officials believe they've caught the man who killed Danyetta Lentz and her two children, Nicole and Scott Lentz. The suspect is James C. Koepp, a neighbor of the family in the Janesville Terrace mobile home park.


"They're all just happy" about the arrest, McWilliams said. "I mean, everybody thinks it's a horrible, horrible situation."


Locals have been glued to their newspapers, televisions, and computer screens since the news broke Friday, which they proved in their knowledge of the case.


Peter Bales, 57, said he heard about the arrest at the YMCA. He was glad to hear of it but wondered about possible motives.


"I wonder whether there's a relationship there or if they were strangers," he said, sipping a cup of coffee at Mocha Moment, 1121 Center Ave.


"It must be a relief for the people in the neighborhood," he added.


But residents' relief was tinged with anger that a convicted sex offender was living in anonymity at the mobile home park and might have committed another horrific crime.


"Why didn't they put him away when he was first arrested?" asked Pat Kaster, a hostess at the Wedge Inn East, 3445 E. Milwaukee St.


Koepp was sentenced to prison on a 1984 conviction on four counts of second-degree sexual assault. He was sent back to prison in 1991 on a Janesville burglary conviction and again in 1995 after his probation was revoked.


He was released in 1999.


"They let him out, and now he goes and kills three people," Kaster said.


Despite their anger about the crime, several residents said they were pleased with the way the Rock County Sheriff's Department handled the case.


"They were very thorough," said Judy Hoffman, 61, just before ordering an omelet and orange juice at Kadee's Kafe. "Three checks (of the mobile home), a rush on DNA (evidence) ...that's good."


Residents seemed positive the department has found its man.


"I don't think they would've arrested him if they weren't sure," McWilliams said.



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