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Man accused in fire at future home of sex offender released, charges not filed

The man accused of burning down a Cottage Grove home before a convicted sex offender could move in appeared in court Thursday. Russell A. Speigle, 50, was in court for a bond hearing, but no charges have been officially filed. Prosecutors asked for a $500 cash bond, but Speigle’s attorney claimed his client is not a flight risk, and that he was in Muscoda visiting his parents when he was arrested Monday night. “He had been in custody two days, not free to leave. He didn’t voluntarily admit himself and yet, four days later, there’s no criminal complaint because they don’t have enough facts upon which to charge him,” Speigle’s attorney, Bruce Rosen, said. The judge agreed, and released Speigle on a signature bond Thursday afternoon. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said fire crews were called to 4721 Gaston Circle in the town of Cottage Grove Sunday night and found flames coming from the home when they arrived. The house was the target of a suspected arsonist on Dec. 8. In that fire, the home sustained $90,000 in damage. It was recently, but is now considered a total loss after the latest fire. Speigle was taken to UW Hospital and treated for burns after being arrested Monday. He was released Tuesday, and was subsequently booked into the Dane County Jail on a tentative arson charge. The house was to be the future home of convicted sex offender Howard Nyberg, 40. Nyberg is currently being held at a supervised living facility in Mauston. He pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault of a child in 1994. Mahoney said Speigle voiced his opposition to the move during a public hearing. Sheriff's officials said they believe video surveillance footage shows Speigle carrying gas cans toward the house, but deputies have not been able to find the gas cans. Officials are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can provide crucial information pertaining to the investigation by calling the state's arson hotline at 1-800-362-3005. Investigators are also looking into whether Speigle was responsible for the first fire.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:11:15 GMT

Man admits to squeezing 2-month-old in fatal incident

A Fitchburg man admitted to squeezing a baby because it was crying before it later died at a hospital Monday. Fitchburg police were called to the 3600 block of Breckenridge Court Monday for a report of an unresponsive 2-month-old. The infant was breathing when first responders arrived, but later died at a hospital. An autopsy was performed Tuesday, but officials said they could not disclose the nature of the infant's injuries. Corey L. Holly, 24, of Fitchburg, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree reckless homicide. Police said Holly is the boyfriend of the infant’s mother and lived with both of them. Holly is not the child’s father. According to a criminal complaint, the baby had bruising on its abdomen not consistent with life-saving measures, and an autopsy indicated the baby died by homicide by blunt force trauma to the torso. Holly initially told police he did not know what happened to the baby, but he later said he was holding the 2-month-old over the sink to burp it when the baby fell into the sink and his abdomen hit the center sink divider, according to the complaint. Holly then told police he squeezed the baby hard around the torso because it wouldn’t stop crying and he “just lost it,” according to the complaint. Holly said he was a murderer and deserved whatever happened to him. Holly's bail was set at $25,000. Holly faces first-degree reckless homicide charges as a repeat offender, and faces a maximum of 60 years in prison if found guilty.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:56:43 GMT

Zoo announces new polar bears

The Henry Vilas Zoo announced the addition of two polar bears to the new "Arctic Passage" exhibit set to open this summer. Suka and Sakari are 2 1/2-year-old twins that will come from the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota. Once they arrive, the Henry Vilas Zoo will house two of only 60 polar bears in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos in North America. A release from the zoo states that the new exhibit is designed to meet or exceed "the most stringent standards in bear care." The Arctic Passage exhibit is on schedule to open Memorial Day weekend.  About $270,000 is still needed to pay for the project.

Published: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:44:08 GMT

Badgers video shows Chris Farley recruitment pitch

EMBED A video released by the UW Badgers this week shows the late comedian Chris Farley explaining why you should go to the University of Wisconsin.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:35:18 GMT

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Published: Tue, 10 May 2011 13:51:57 GMT

WATCH: Llamas run loose in Arizona

A show-and-tell presentation at a retirement facility in Sun City, Arizona, got a little wild Thursday. Two llamas, a mother and baby were not ready to go home when they were being loaded into their trailer. The llamas on the loose spent the next two hours running around the neighborhood.

Published: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:32:47 GMT

Walker: Protesters prepared him to confront global terrorism

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his experience taking on protesters in his state helped prepare him to take on terrorists across the world. The likely Republican presidential contender on Thursday appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference — known as CPAC — in suburban Washington. Asked how he would handle the Islamic State group, Walker said he's been concerned about the terrorist group for years — at home and abroad. He told the conservative audience that if he can take on 100,000 protesters, he can do the same across the world. "We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message not only that we will protect American soil, but do not take this upon freedom loving people anywhere else in the world," Walker said. " We need someone with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world." The Wisconsin governor has faced particularly aggressive protests over his budget policies in the four years since he took office. He's gearing up for a 2016 presidential contest in which foreign policy figures to play prominently. He also addressed the most controversial issue facing Wisconsin right now. "And just breaking, as of next week Wisconsin will become the 25th state in America that allows workers the freedom to choose whether they want to work for a company and be in a union or not," Walker said.

Published: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:00:41 GMT

4 teens beat 16-year-old over phone

A group of four teenagers beat a 16-year-old over an allegation of a stolen phone. Madison police said the incident started with a disturbance on a Madison Metro bus on the afternoon of Feb. 18. The five teens got off the bus at Speedway Road and Hillcrest Drive where the four teens, ages 15-17, repeatedly punched and kicked the 16-year-old, according to the report. One of the teens told police he believed the victim had stolen his phone. The victim denied the allegation. The four teens were arrested on suspicion of battery.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:52:35 GMT

Mother of toddler who died outside talks about ordeal

Tomah police are investigating the death of a 2-year-old who was found outside of an apartment by her mother. On Tuesday, February 17, police were called to an apartment on the 1000 block of Oak Avenue for a medical call at about 4:55 a.m. According to a Go Fund Me page set up for the family, the girl's mother says 2-year-old Raelyn Sheetz and her 5-year-old step sister went outside to play some time during the night without telling their parents. The 5-year-old tried to get her sister to come inside, but she didn't want to. When Raelyn was ready to go inside, she couldn't open the screen door. According to the Go Fund Me page, "When my fiancée and I woke up at 4:45am for him to get ready for work, I grabbed his keys to go start the truck. I opened the screen door and the motion light turned on to reveal my 2 year old daughter laying face down on my patio with her eyes glazed open like a porcelain doll with a bloody nose. Her body was cold and lifeless." When officers arrived, they immediately began life-saving efforts on Raelyn. Our forecast on February 17 showed that the temperatures in the Tomah area at 6 a.m. were between 6 and 10-degrees. Sheetz was transported to Tomah Memorial Hospital for continued treatment of an apparent hypothermic-related emergency. She was flown to Mayo-Clinic-Rochester, where medical staff attempted to save her life over the following days. Sheetz died on Saturday, February 21. An autopsy was conducted and the results are pending. The investigation continues. “Providing complete cooperation and access through this investigation has been the priority of Raelyn’s family,” Tomah police stated in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:59:11 GMT

Emotions behind protesters paint picture of concern about future

Amidst the protests and debate surrounding the right-to-work bill four people were arrested, but the emotions behind the protests paint a picture of those so concerned a right-to-work bill could harm the future. Angry protesters were hauled off early in the Senate’s right-to-work debate as emotions boiled over from those who think the idea is wrong. PHOTOS: Right-to-work debate at Capitol One of the people arrested was father of two Will Kramer. The former safety consultant is not a union member. “If this bill goes through, unions will be weaker. More employees will be hurt. More employees will die,” Kramer said. Kramer is still trying to make sense of why he was arrested. “Until they dragged me into the elevator I was trying to stay where I was, because I felt like I had the right to be there,” Kramer said. Kelly Albrecht said she got lost trying to find a restroom when she was detained. She’s here because of her 21-year-old son. “He comes home Friday afternoon. He says, ‘Mom, I’ve got to find another state to live in because there’s no way I’m going to survive,'” Albrecht said. Janesville electrician Bill Grove took in the debate on his smartphone. “I would hope someone would get the message this is ignorant. It makes no sense to do,” Grove said. What has been seen at the Capitol over the last couple of days is a counter-protest to those who do not like right to work.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:56:03 GMT

Assembly committee to take up right-to-work bill during hearing

The Assembly Labor Committee has scheduled a 10-hour hearing on Monday on the right-to-work bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday night on a 17-15 vote. Democrats are already expressing concern that there won’t be enough time for the public to share their thoughts on the fast-tracked bill and that the hearing is just a formality. “It’s not just a check box that you tick off on the way to passing a bill and it becoming a law,” Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said. “It’s actually supposed to inform legislators like us about how a proposed piece of legislation will impact the public.” “Don’t think there should be concern. I think we’re going to give people every opportunity to present their viewpoints. That’s the intent of the hearing. That’s when I say I hope it’s a hearing and not a filibuster,” Rep. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, said. More than 160 people signed up to speak at the Senate hearing on Tuesday, but only about 25 of them were able to speak.

Published: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:32:29 GMT

Beloit Police Department ordered to undergo $129K evaluation

In a workplace that relies on teamwork, Beloit police officers have concerns over its leadership. "It wasn’t just one or two disgruntled employees. This was six different officers, independent of each other that came to me with their concerns. Officers that have been with the department for a very long time, solid reputations of doing great police work and when I have that many officers coming to me saying that there are concerns, then I as a city council member need to take that seriously. We just can't afford as a city to not have 100 percent confidence in our police department," City Councilor Shelia De Forest. The amount of individual complaints from police officers is raising an even larger concern about the state of the department among city council members. "The officers were literally concerned about retaliation, and so that has made it difficult to get a handle on what's going on in the department," she said. According to City Manager Larry Arft, concerns about how the police department is operated have been brought up by both police officers and community members. "If employee morale is bad across the department, as many people are saying, that is going to adversely impact operations. It's going to stifle creativity, it's going to stifle initiative, it's going to cause employee turnover to start, so if those issues are out there, we need to find a way to address them," Arft said. Over the past several months, the city has held meetings with Police Chief Norm Jacobs, management, and community members, but city officials are now looking for outside help. "If there are some issues with management and employee morale, we need to find out what those are and in a systematic way and with a work product in the end that tells us what we need to do, that lays out a blueprint," Arft said. The city council voted unanimously to spend $129,000 to hire Hilliard Hintze, based out of Chicago, to handle the assessment. The firm will take between 13 and 16 weeks to interview all police department employees and assess policies and procedures to tell the department what areas they are doing well in and what areas they need to improve on. "Our officers are putting their lives on the line every day. They have to be able to count on their co-workers, count on their leaders and have confidence in the decisions that are made," De Forest said.

Published: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:14:09 GMT

Phone scam targets international students on UW campus

University of Wisconsin police are warning the campus community of a phone scam targeting international students and staff. The UW Police Department and the Madison Police Department have gotten a number of calls over the last week from students reporting that they’ve been contacted by someone claiming to be a UWPD officer. The caller says the person they’re calling owes taxes or a warrant has been issued for their arrest, according to a release. Officials said the caller seems to be preying on international students and staff, sometimes threatening deportation if they don’t comply with the requests. According to the release, the call looks like it’s coming from a local number, but is more than likely coming from overseas. Officials said it is not necessary to call police if you receive a scam phone call, but if you feel harassed or unsafe, or if you feel you have been scammed, you can call UWPD at 608-264-2677.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:17:29 GMT

Ignored fire alarms put residents at risk

When Madison firefighters arrived at the Capitol Centre Court apartments shortly after 4 a.m., they found thick smoke coming from a fifth floor apartment. They also found many residents of the 150-unit complex ignoring an audible fire alarm going off throughout the building. “The fire alarms started going off. They said we had to evacuate the building. I didn’t really think it was real because it happens kind of frequently,” said Samantha Johnson, a resident of the building. Frequent false or unintentional fire alarms are common. Madison Fire Department officials said they get around 2,500 false or unintentional fire alarms each year. Responding to those alarms not only occupies the time of firefighters, they also keep them from responding to emergency calls. The frequent false and unintentional alarms also have a negative impact on residents. “Well the problem is complacency,” said Ed Ruckriegel, fire marshal for the Madison Fire Department. Ruckriegel said complacency increases the risk for residents because time is critical during a fire. “Fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. So if you chose to ignore an alarm you are really taking your safety period, your escape time and crunching it down,” Ruckriegel said. Some resident at the Capitol Centre Court apartments didn’t start to evacuate the building until they saw firefighters coming up the stairwell. “It was a little frightening just not knowing what was going on. Like I said, it happens a lot so I didn’t think anything of it and then seeing them was like, whoa…panic,” Johnson said. All of the residents were able to get out of the building without injury, but one Madison firefighter was injured. He was taken to Meriter Hospital where he was treated and released. Damage to the building is estimated at $70,000. Ruckriegel said Madison firefighters all too often respond to calls like this to find residents not evacuating the building. “There are a number of times a week that the firefighters have gone into buildings or apartments with the alarm sounding and have to wake people up within the dwelling,” Ruckriegel said.

Published: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 02:01:29 GMT

Baraboo man accused of OWI in crash that killed passenger

A Baraboo man was accused of driving drunk in the crash that killed his passenger last year.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 22:55:20 GMT

Vikings RB Peterson wins appeal

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson won his appeal Thursday when Judge David S. Doty granted a petition to vacate the indefinite league-imposed suspension handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell. "There is no dispute that the Commissioner imposed Peterson's discipline under the New Policy," Doty wrote Thursday. "It is also undisputed that in the (Ray) Rice arbitration, the hearing officer unequivocally recognized that the New Policy cannot be applied retroactively, notwithstanding the Commissioner's broad discretion in meting out punishment under the CBA. "Consistent with that recognition, the Commissioner has acknowledged that he did not have the power to retroactively apply the New Policy: The policy change was forward looking because the League is 'required to provide proper notice.' Yet, just two weeks later, the Commissioner retroactively applied the New Policy to Peterson." The ruling does not equate to reinstatement for Peterson, whose case returns to the arbitration process. His original appeal was heard by Harold Henderson, who denied the appeal. In Doty's 16-page ruling Thursday, he said Henderson "disregarded the law of the shop and in doing so failed to meet his duty.'' Doty, who heard Peterson's formal appeal Feb. 6, has long been viewed as a player-friendly judge. The NFL said Thursday through spokesman Brian McCarthy that it would "review the decision." Goodell's decision to indefinitely suspend former Ravens running back Ray Rice was overturned by arbitrator Barbara Jones, a U.S. District Judge. The NFL claimed the ruling should be irrelevant to Peterson's case, but Doty said he found "no valid basis to distinguish this case over the Rice matter." Peterson has three years remaining on his current contract. He is owed $12.75 million next season. It's not clear if he wants to return to the Vikings. His agent, Ben Dogra, had an altercation with chief contract negotiator Rob Brzenski at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week when Dogra reportedly told the Vikings that Peterson was done in Minneapolis. Reports had surfaced that Peterson was not fully comfortable returning to the team. Peterson told friends that he felt "betrayed" by the Vikings, according to multiple reports. However, Peterson's father said last week that he would not rule out a return to the team. Peterson can be traded after the league year begins March 10 and last year told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he would love to play in Dallas. DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season and was voted Offensive Player of the Year, is an unrestricted free agent. General manager Rick Spielman said at the combine that the Vikings would welcome Peterson back. Coach Mike Zimmer said he also valued Peterson as a football player. However, the team is not likely to bring Peterson back at a lofty price tag. "This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness," the NFLPA said in a statement Thursday. "Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players' rights. This is yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for the owners and good for our game." Peterson was placed on the commissioner's exempt list in September, when charges for child abuse were filed in Texas involving Peterson's 4-year-old son. In November, Goodell suspended Peterson for the rest of the 2014 season for a violation of the personal conduct policy. Peterson avoided jail time pleading no contest to reckless assault on Nov. 4. He had been charged with injuring his 4-year-old son in May, causing visible injuries to his legs, thighs and scrotum. Peterson claimed he did not intend injury while disciplining the boy with a wooden switch. Under guidelines Goodell established himself, Peterson would not have been eligible for reinstatement until April 15. Peterson said Feb. 6 he felt like he "got a fair hearing" in Minneapolis, where he presented his argument to Doty. At the time, Peterson said he wanted to stay with the Vikings.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:23:49 GMT

Assembly leaders had promised no right-to-work debate

Republican leaders of the Wisconsin state Assembly promised last year that a right-to-work bill would not come up this session. Both Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Jim Steineke said the bill that is now on a fast-track for passage would not be debated. Steineke, who was assistant majority leader last year, said at a September candidate forum in Green Bay that "right to work is off the table, I believe, for the next session." Steineke said Thursday the issue wasn't on the Assembly's agenda then, but since it passed the Senate this week "we're going to have to deal with it." Vos said in October that right-to-work was not on the Republican agenda and "it's not going to be." The Assembly plans to vote on it next week.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:27:12 GMT

Man in 60s dies in Cudahy house fire

Officials say a house fire in Cudahy has left one man dead. WITI-TV reports the victim is a man in his 60s. His name has not been released. The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Fire departments from Cudahy, St. Francis, Oak Creek and Milwaukee sent crews to battle the blaze. The station reports there were no immediate indications that anyone else was hurt in the fire.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:07:39 GMT

Chief, coalition members debate policing in south Madison

Madison police Chief Mike Koval and members of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition debated at a public forum last week on Madison's south side.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:39:00 GMT

Multiple fire departments fight Browntown blaze

Numerous fire departments are assisting at the scene of a house fire in Browntown Thursday morning. The Green County Sheriff’s Office said they received a call at 9:05 a.m. reporting a house fully engulfed in flames at W8934 Davis Road. The Browntown Fire Department quickly called for mutual aid when they arrived at the scene. Fire departments from South Wayne, Monroe, Argyle and Juda responded. Firefighters from Orangeville and Winslow, Illinois, were later called to the scene. No one was home at the time of the fire, and no injuries have been reported.

Published: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:27:01 GMT