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Crime
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Janesville’s police chief wants review of system choices before homicide

JANESVILLE

Janesville’s police chief wants to know if the criminal justice system failed a woman authorities say was killed in the Wisconsin Dells by a man who was twice charged in the last year with attacking her.

Police Chief Dave Moore was speaking about Jeremy L. Mondy, who is suspected of killing a Janesville woman after authorities found him Sunday in a Wisconsin Dells hotel room, where the woman was dead.

Rock County prosecutors twice within the past year charged Mondy, 34, with various domestic violence charges for incidents including one where he was accused of threatening to kill the woman.

According to the criminal complaint, he told her at the beginning of February, “I’ll kill you before I go back to jail.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Mondy has not been charged in Columbia County Court in connection to the death.

But the topic has weighed on officials all week, and it came up during Thursday’s county Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting.

“I question if we did all we could in this incident,” Moore said.

On Mondy’s most recent case in Rock County, Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer on Feb. 4 ordered a signature bond, and conditions of that bond included no contact with the woman, court records show. He was also given level 2 supervision through JusticePoint, a pretrial supervision program.

Moore said he wants to know what information was available to officials involved with assigning that level of supervision. He mentioned Mondy’s other criminal history, which he said included federal drug charges.

Moore said level 2 was a “standard assessment,” and he said Mondy was released from custody even though “the violence” by Mondy toward the victim was “escalating.”

He also wanted to know what follow-up took place in the nine or 10 days between Mondy’s release and the Feb. 14 killing.

In the misdemeanor domestic case filed in connection to a late March 2020 incident, Mondy also was given a signature bond by Court Commissioner Jack Hoag—again with a condition not to contact the woman.

Bond and bail have for years been a topic of reform within the criminal justice system, both locally and nationally. Concerns have been raised the system can let wealthier defendants out while poorer defendants are forced to sit in custody, including for minor offenses unrelated to public safety.

Moore acknowledged the work that has been done by the council and other related groups on evidence-based decision-making practices and how too many low-level offenders are held in custody when other alternatives would be more effective.

“I think all of us have embraced that position,” he said.

But Moore also said that within those efforts “dangerous offenders” still should be held accountable and “dealt with in a manner that provides safety for our community and safety for our victims.”

Moore tried to make a motion to have the council recommend a person or people to review the decisions in the case—an effort that Sheriff Troy Knudson seconded—but the council could not legally take the action on the item because it was not listed on the agenda.

District Attorney David O’Leary said putting the item on the agenda for the group’s next meeting would be in accordance with open meetings laws.

Kelly Mattingly, the chair of the council, and Judge Barbara McCrory stepped away from discussing the matter because of their involvement with the case as Mondy’s attorney and the judge who was to hear the case.

McCrory did later add that perhaps a review of the case could be broadened to the topic of domestic violence generally. Moore said he supported that idea because a “deep dive” into the Mondy case could lead officials to find other ways to improve the system overall.

The council will next meet at 3 p.m. March 18.

This story was updated at 5:48 p.m. Thursday with more details from the discussion.


Local
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New guide highlights people, places of Black Hawk War

MILTON

Ben Strand did not learn about Wisconsin’s American Indian tribes when he was in grade school.

Nor did he realize that Abraham Lincoln once spent time in Wisconsin as a soldier.

So when Strand came across a sign outside a Jefferson County tavern proclaiming that Lincoln had served in the Black Hawk War of 1832, he wanted to know more.

Strand, who lives in Milton, set out on a journey of discovery to learn about the state’s native people and the 16th president’s role in the conflict.

After a dozen years of research, Strand has written a book, “A Black Hawk War Guide,” published this month by Arcadia Publishing.

“I accumulated so much information, I thought I should write a book,” he said.

The 205-page guide highlights landmarks, battlefields and museums of the final conflict east of the Mississippi River between American Indians and U.S. regular troops and militia.

Strand also includes many firsthand accounts, which give critical insight into what people of the day were thinking.

“First-person sources tell us so much about the relationship people had with Native Americans,” Strand said.

Researching the Black Hawk War led Strand to a deeper understanding of the state’s history.

When he was a boy, he watched “Rawhide” on TV and read Louis L’Amour books.

But he had no knowledge of the native people in the state, including the Sauk and Fox or Meskwaki Indians.

“For generations, the legacy of Native Americans in the Midwest was politely omitted,” he said. “Today, the stories, cultures and legacies of numerous communities that lived in the Midwest for thousands of years before European immigrants arrived are slowly becoming more discoverable.”

Strand grew up in Dodgeville, the small city named after Henry Dodge. But he never knew much about Dodge, the state’s first governor, slave owner and a key figure in the Black Hawk War, “who was aggressive in forcing Native Americans out of the state,” Strand said.

As Strand learned about Wisconsin’s frontier history, “I feel like a big question mark from my upbringing was finally answered,” he said.

His book is a way to share knowledge, and he said he was “just one more person adding a little bit to the story.”

Strand called tracking down historical information “just a joy.”

The best part of his research was meeting with people of the Sauk and Fox communities now living in Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

A young member of the Sauk tribe wrote the foreword to Strand’s book.

Kealan Hamilton-Youngbird explained how his people were tricked and manipulated into ceding away all their land east of the Mississippi.

Between 1828 and 1831, the Sauk and Fox were forced to share land with more and more settlers who moved into their villages in Rock Island, Illinois.

Eventually, the settlers demanded that the American Indians be moved from their homes.

By 1831, U.S. authorities pushed the native people west of the Mississippi and promised them food that would equal what they left behind.

The promise went unfulfilled.

The Sauk warrior and leader Black Hawk led some of the starving people back to their homelands, which the U.S. government saw as an act of war and which later became known as the Black Hawk War.

The hunt for Black Hawk and his 1,200 followers, including warriors, old men, women and children, went on for more than a year. Many died of hunger, thirst or exhaustion and were buried on the trail.

“On Aug. 2, 1832, my people were massacred at what was labeled the Battle at Bad Axe,” Hamilton-Youngbird wrote.

U.S. regular troops and militia rebuffed Black Hawk’s attempt at a truce and killed hundreds.

But Hamilton-Youngbird said his people are still here, in spite of uncertainty and adversity.

“We have managed to hold on to our traditional ways,” he said. “We still know our history.”

Anna Marie Lux is a human interest columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264 or email amarielux@gazettextra.com.


Obituaries and death notices for Feb. 19, 2021

Charlotte L. (Sarow) Bader

Bronson C. Bullock

Barbara M. Cullen

Janet A. Edwards

Howard J. Grefsheim

Pearl J. Gurney

Angela K. “Angie” Miller

Betty Barbara Olsen

Colleen L. Robb

Steven J. “Sully” Sullivan

Emmett “Squeak” Thompson


Local
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Janesville's iconic Rollin Pin Bakery rolls to a close

JANESVILLE

Years ago, on one of Bob Hiller’s days off, a friend pulled a prank using Hiller’s well-known Rollin Pin Bakery mobile food truck.

In a good-natured ruse, the friend stuck a “Now Open” sign on the street corner next to the food truck, which was parked outside Hiller’s home on Janesville’s east side.

Hiller hadn’t made any baked goods, and Rollin Pin was not open for business that day. But the joke fooled so many of Rollin Pin’s fans that within minutes, a queue of about 50 cars had lined up along the street.

“It was just people who happened to be driving past and saw that fake ‘Now Open’ sign. But it was a whole mess of people who showed up right away. So that’s how you really know what Rollin Pin has meant to people around here,” said Hiller’s son, Bobby Hiller II.

As of this week, Rollin Pin Bakery is no more. The ever-joking Hiller, 91, has grown too ill with heart disease in recent months to carry on with his work, his family said. The longtime business is closed and is being liquidated.

Rollin Pin sold off the company’s baking equipment at auction Wednesday. The bakery’s most recent storefront and production facility off Case Drive on the east side is closed.

It marks the end of a long-running and locally beloved foodie mainstay that Hiller ran with his family for six decades. And with it go Hiller’s famous chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, eclairs, and cream puffs, his family said.

At one time, Hiller and his family cranked out batches of 50,000 cookies and 3,000 eclairs at a time—most recently during special post-holiday sales that Rollin Pin hosted just five days a year.

It has been years since Rollin Pin has occupied its first storefront, which opened in 1961 on Arch Street and operated for more than 50 years.

In recent years, Hiller had been semi-retired but continued selling batches of cookies that his son said were always hand-rolled and hand-cut, made from recipes known only by the family.

Hiller was at his east-side home Thursday but said he felt too ill to give an interview.

Bobby Hiller said his father’s bakery hasn’t produced baked goods since its sale last Valentine’s Day, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

As the pandemic unfolded, the family decided it was too difficult to run the popular post-holiday sales, which often drew overflow crowds of customers who had waited two months between batches of Rollin Pin cookies and other baked goods.

“With public health rules, you couldn’t really have more than a handful of customers in at a time,” Bobby Hiller said. “With our special sales, we’d do 1,000 people a day easily. It was a no-win situation to have to manage production with those kind of crowds coming in during this virus, so we kind of had to cut our losses.”

Over the last year, Hiller’s health has deteriorated as his heart disease has worsened, his son said.

Hiller, whose 92nd birthday is in mid-March, has been a baker by trade since he was a teenager in the World War II era.

Bobby Hiller said his father dropped out of high school when he had to choose between serving an after-school detention and being on time to his job at Cunningham’s, a bakery on Milwaukee Street in Janesville.

“He just followed what he figured he wanted to do,” Bobby Hiller said.

Hiller bought his first bakery when he was 15, his son said. He had just sold the first car he had bought, and he rode a bicycle from his Janesville home to Milton, where he heard a bakery was up for sale.

The proceeds from selling his car bought the teenage Hiller the Milton bakery, along with a van for deliveries.

“He sold a vehicle and bought a new bakery business, plus another vehicle on top of that. That’s business,” Bobby Hiller said.

Generations of Janesville residents came to know Rollin Pin’s specialties—the cookies and eclairs especially—during local fairs and festivals that Hiller would ply with his food truck.

In a 2019 interview with Gazette kicks Editor Greg Little, a then-89-year-old Bob Hiller said he was amazed that he had continued to cultivate a strong customer base through social media, even as his business shifted from a daily bakery to one that ran a handful of days a year.

During the interview, Hiller said he named his bakery Rollin Pin for reasons that are, and always were, self-evident.

“It’s just named after the rolling pin. We were using them all the time, so it just came to me,” Hiller said.

Edmund Halabi, who owns and operates the Italian House restaurant in Janesville, said he considers Rollin Pin Bakery in the same league as other iconic Janesville businesses, including General Motors and Parker Pen.

In the same way, Halabi said he always considered Hiller a local icon who understood how to cultivate a devoted local following.

“What he has brought has always been a taste of a time and place,” Halabi said. “Something from this town. Freshness, handmade, homemade simplicity.

“He understood that you really don’t have to grow east or west, north or south. You don’t have to be a McDonald’s type of business. You can do it totally right, and do it right here.”


Milton’s Jack Campion tries for the layup while defended by Janesville Craig’s Marshaun Harriel during their non conference game in Janesville on Thursday, Jan. 28.


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