Investigation continues into triple homicide

Published on: 4/30/2013

Charges are expected by the end of the week against Waukesha man, Jaren M. Kuester, for first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly killing lifelong town of Wiota residents Dean Thoreson, 76; Gary Thoreson, 70; and Chloe Thoreson, 66, Lafayette County Sheriff Scott Pedley said.

Kuester allegedly killed the three over the weekend after police said he emerged naked from a six-mile hike through heavy brush and swampland and randomly entered the farmhouse where two of the victims lived. Kuester is being held at the Lafayette County jail on three preliminary charges of first-degree intentional homicide.

"It was a random act, it was a random encounter," Pedley said. "Dean didn't know his assailant. Neither did Gary or Chloe."

Pedley wouldn't say if investigators learned yet why Kuester chose to abandon his vehicle early Saturday on a rural Green County road, trudge through heavy brush and swampland and swim across the Pecatonica River before reaching land on Philippine Road that the Thoresons had farmed for decades.

Kuester's most serious offense was a battery conviction in 2001 that put him on probation, according to online court records. Criminal trespass and disorderly conduct charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. He also had traffic citations.

But Green County officials knew something was wrong after they received a report that Kuester might be unstable and then found his abandoned vehicle and saw drug paraphernalia inside it.

"So his behavior led us to suspect something was wrong, whether it was drug-induced or a mental illness problem," Green County Sheriff Jeff Scatrud said.

Several police agencies and volunteers commenced a seven-hour search for Kuester, Scatrud said. Led by police dogs, they kept finding abandoned articles of clothing from Kuester, but they couldn't find him as they covered the rough area he had traveled.

"The guess, based on the clothing that was discarded, was that he had nothing left on, including footwear, by the time he got out of there," Scatrud said.

- Associated Press