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Wisconsin roundup: Western Wis. authorities search for fugitive sex offender; more state news stories

Authorities in Wisconsin and Minnesota are searching for 37-year-old Casey Thibodeaux, a convicted sex offender who allegedly removed his GPS monitoring bracelet and went missing. Photo courtesy of Vernon County Sheriff's Office

LA CROSSE — The Wisconsin Department of Justice says a sex offender who was on parole has removed his GPS monitoring bracelet and gone missing.

Authorities in Wisconsin and Minnesota are searching for 37-year-old Casey Thibodeaux. They say Thibodeaux may be driving a gray Ford Focus without license plates and he could be in the area of South Milwaukee and Kenosha. He was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in the 1990s. The monitoring device set off an alarm when it was removed Wednesday at a gas station in Minnesota.


Forest County deputy on leave, ID’d after shooting

CRANDON — A deputy with the Forest County Sheriff’s Department is on administrative leave while an officer-involved shooting is investigated.

Deputy Craig Justice shot a wanted sex offender when the Texas fugitive pointed a shotgun at him Jan. 4. He originally responded to a report of stranded motorist. When 31-year-old Brandon Cude realized Justice knew he was wanted, he pointed the weapon at the deputy and the deputy shot him to death. State investigators say they will turn over their findings to the Forest County district attorney for a decision about filing charges.


Marshfield man charged with 11 felonies in sex predator arrest

WISCONSIN RAPIDS — A Marshfield man is charged with 11 felonies after responding to a Craigslist ad posted by an undercover officer.

A judge decided 42-year-old Jared Teche should go to trial during a court appearance Wednesday. The October sting operation was aimed at child sex predators. The Eau Claire police officer was posing as the father of two girls, ages eight and 11, offering them online for sex. Police say Teche agreed to pay $400 to have sexual contact with the younger girl.


Judge allows accused hostage-taker to represent himself at trial

NEENAH — A man accused of taking felony murder and taking hostages during a deadly standoff will be allowed to represent himself at his trial.

Brian Flatoff has entered a not guilty plea to the 16 charges he faces. Flatoff told the court the 10 previous lawyers who had been appointed to represent him had failed. Those attorney changes have delayed the trial several times. Hostage Michael Funk was accidentally shot to death by police after he escaped the motorcycle shop where hostages were being held. The trial for Flatoff is scheduled to start March 5.


Debate over Hiawatha statue in La Crosse heats up

LA CROSSE — The La Crosse Human Rights Commission is discussing its options in a controversy over a statue in the city’s Riverside Park.

Members of the Ho-Chunk Nation have called for removal of the statue of Hiawatha designed and built by La Crosse art teacher Anthony Zimmerhakl in 1961. They say it is an inaccurate representation which harms Native-American youth. Supporters say it is a tribute, but the Ho-Chunk want it removed.


Investigation: Thousands of families not notified about lead levels

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Health Department is sending letters to 8,000 families telling them tests have found their children have high levels of lead in their blood.

The problem is, in some cases those letters should have gone out nearly three years ago. The testing was done, the letters evidently produced, but never mailed. It is a legal requirement that health providers make those notifications. The Milwaukee Common Council has voted to allow an outside firm to audit the health department.


Assembly works on bill about placement of violent sexual offenders

MADISON — Wisconsin lawmakers are working on a bill which would return released violent sexual offenders to the county where they lived before they went to prison.

Two sexually violent offenders, who aren't from Portage County, were placed by a judge in the town of Alban. Several lawmakers from central Wisconsin have been pushing for a change in the law. The bill passed in the Assembly Tuesday would end the practice of a judge making the final decision on the offender's new location after being released.


Altoona OKs charging non-taxpayers for emergency service calls

ALTOONA — People and entities that don't pay property taxes in the Eau Claire County city of Altoona will now be charged for emergency service calls costing over $1,000.

The City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday night to enact charges for fire protection and other services. Fire officials say the ordinance provides a way for the city to recover expenses related to supplies and equipment used. Last year, only four calls exceeded the $1,000 amount.