Janesville51.6°

Police probe stabbing

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David Brazy
Kevin Hoffman
July 14, 2011
— Martha Hanson had her son Joseph over for dinner just about every weekend.

Her plans for this week were no different—lasagna, Joseph's favorite.


Those plans have changed, and Martha's family now will gather at her Beloit home this weekend for a private memorial.


Joseph Hanson, 40, was stabbed to death in his downtown Janesville apartment late Tuesday night.


Police suspect that the man in the neighboring apartment, William Davis, 53, used a knife to kill Hanson.


"Joe has always been a good son," Martha said, recalling his years as a high school athlete.


Joseph attended Big Foot High School in Walworth. Martha said he was a standout on the track team and collected plaques from his wrestling and bowling years.


Joseph has lived in Janesville for about 25 years, delivering newspapers for part of that time, Martha said.


He has six brothers and four sisters, most of whom are traveling to Wisconsin this week after receiving news of their brother's death.


Two Janesville police officers were dispatched at 10:34 p.m. Tuesday to 31 S. Main St., Apt. C, for a check welfare call.


Janesville police Deputy Chief Dan Davis said William Davis charged naked at the officers after they knocked on his door, and both officers used Tasers to subdue him. He was transported to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center, Janesville. Neither officer was injured.


Officers later Tuesday night were called back to the apartment building after a neighbor found Hanson's body. Hanson was in his bed with multiple stab wounds to his torso, Davis said.


William Davis is a suspect in Hanson's death, Davis said.


William Davis was being held at Mercy on Wednesday afternoon on an emergency mental commitment because police believed he remained a danger to himself or the public. He will be taken to a mental health facility once he is cleared to leave Mercy, Davis said.


Rock County Chief Deputy Coroner Lou Smit confirmed Hanson died of multiple stab wounds. He could not comment further on the extent of Hanson's injuries.


Davis said both Hanson and William Davis were enrolled in the Community Support Program of Rock County. The program helps people with disabilities and mental illness live independently in the community.


Investigators do not believe alcohol was involved in the incident, Davis said, but they are investigating if William Davis was on any medication at the time.


Joni Bozart owns the building that houses four upstairs apartments and her business, Carousel Consignments, downstairs. The killing shocked her, and she still was distraught Wednesday afternoon.


Bozart said William Davis lived in the building when she and her husband, Larry, bought it 20 years ago.


She said Davis and Hanson seemed to be friends. They were neighbors for many years, and she knew of no problems.


Joseph was a nice, quiet guy, Bozart said, describing him as "very passive."


She never had problems with Davis, either, "certainly no violence," she said.


"I have nothing bad to say about either one," Bozart said.


"It's shocking because the violence is such a shock," Bozart said. "That part is out of nowhere. I wouldn't have expected it.


"Our hearts go out to the families."


Davis and Hanson had lived in the Main Street apartments for a number of years.


Court records show an incident in 2007 led to a disorderly conduct charge against Davis. Davis accused a neighbor of stealing his jeans and stood in the hallway yelling and banging on doors, according to the criminal complaint. During the 2007 incident, records show Davis ran naked into Hanson's room, yelling, "I am going to get this guy," apparently referring to his neighbor.


Davis later told his attorney he suffered from schizophrenia. He was found not competent to stand trial.


Hanson had a history of misdemeanor charges in Walworth County, and after a mental evaluation was found competent by a judge. One criminal complaint references Hanson's "mental condition" but does not provide more details.


Reporter Marcia Nelesen contributed to this story.

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