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Koepp's wife says he had affair with slain woman

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Gazette Staff and Associated Press
March 28, 2007

Murder suspect James C. Koepp's wife, Nancy, thinks her husband was having an affair with murder victim Danyetta Lentz.


Nancy Koepp, 48, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that her husband, James, was seeing their neighbor, Danyetta Lentz, behind her back.


But Lentz's father, Russ Lucht, said he spent every weekend with his daughter and there was no way she was having an affair with Koepp.


"Things like that were the last thing on her mind. Her kids came first," Lucht said.


Asked why Nancy Koepp would make that accusation, Lucht said he didn't want to get into a "smear campaign."


Koepp, 48, of 3315 S. Highway 51, No. 69, made statements to investigators that indicated he was having an affair with Danyetta, but several people close to the investigation have said such statements could be the foundation for an explanation as to why Koepp's DNA might be found in the Lentz trailer.


Nancy Koepp said Rock County detectives tried to suggest in discussions with her that her husband "snapped" and killed Lentz and then her two teenage children, Nicole and Scott, to cover it up.


Koepp remains in the Rock County Jail in lieu of $60,000 cash bond on four traffic charges, including two felonies.


Five days after the Lentz family was found slain, apparently straggled and stabbed, in their blood-splattered mobile home, sheriff's deputies arrested Koepp on suspicion of the triple homicide as well as the traffic charges.


Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary said then that he intended to file first-degree intentional homicide charges within a couple of days, but he has not yet done so.


Nancy Koepp said she doesn't think her husband is capable of killing three people.


"I've never seen him hurt anyone. Ever," she said.


Koepp was first taken into custody after he fled from a deputy when he was supposed to be talking to detectives about the Lentz murders, authorities said. The traffic charges resulted from the alleged chase.


When he was arrested, Koepp, extremely upset and crying, told deputies: "I just wanted to say goodbye to my wife. ..I didn't mean to kill anyone. ...Why are you worried about a drunk driving when you are pinning three murders on me?" according to a criminal complaint.


Earlier, after he missed the voluntary interview, Koepp, crying and apparently drunk, called a detective and said: "I didn't do it. ...If I come forward, I'm going to lose my wife," according to court documents.


During a second call to the investigator, Koepp said: "I didn't do anything. I didn't f--- kill anyone. ...I was stupid. I was stupid. I did a dumb f---g thing."


The same day, a female detective was in Koepp's home interviewing Nancy when Koepp called. The detective asked Nancy if she wanted her to talk to her husband.


Though she identified herself, "it was obvious he thought I was his wife," the detective wrote. "He kept saying, 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," according to the affidavits.


The Koepps filed jointly for divorce in February after seven years of marriage. Nancy Koepp told the AP that she was angry with her husband about the affair, which she said she didn't learn about it until the night Koepp fled.


"Before that I had no idea," she said.


James fled for a couple of reasons, including being caught in lies by detectives, Nancy said.


Koepp first told police that the last time he'd been at the Lentz trailer was two months before the murders, but Nicole's boyfriend said that Nicole told the boyfriend the night before the bodies were found that Koepp was at the trailer then.


Nancy said her husband didn't want to face her because he knew the affair would destroy their marriage.


Still, she said she never saw a temper in him, calling him a "born-again Christian." But he struggled with alcohol, she said.


Investigators focused on him because of his past, she said.


Koepp was convicted of sexual assaults in 1982 in Dane County, where he forced two women at knifepoint to perform sex acts, including intercourse with him.


Nancy described her feelings toward her husband as "mixed up ...I feel bad someone died."



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