Menomonie, Wisconsin History/jcriemer12

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Crime in Menomonie is tracked by Menomonie's police and sheriff's department. Menomonie is a small city located in Western Wisconsin with a population of 16,264 people[1] and is home to the University of Wisconsin - Stout. Menomonie saw a large increase in violent crime throughout the late 1920's and 30's due along with a rise in population due to the logging industry boom, and crime has continued to be a prevalent issue. Crime is defined as "an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law."[2] Most crime that occurs in Menomonie is not significant, but occasionally there is a more serious offense. This includes murder, pipe bombings, and the infamous Kraft State Bank robbery.

Menomonie's Police Department Building
Menomonie Police Department

Kraft State Bank Robbery[edit]

Escape Route
Escape route that Holden-Keating gang used

On October 20, 1931 at 9:15 A.M. the recently opened Kraft State Bank in Menomonie was robbed by four members of the Holden-Keating gang. The gang members included Thomas Holden, Francis Keating, Charlie Harmon, and Frank Weber. Frank Weber parked the car in front of a nearby building, and the other three members walked to the Kraft State Bank.The gang gained access to the bank vault and took $90,000 in cash and securities.[3] The bank guard, Vernon Townsend set off the alarm and went up to the roof in attempt to shoot the criminals when they fled. The alarm caused Webber, who was waiting in the car, to move to the middle of the street where he began shooting with a machine gun to keep others away from the scene. The bank robbers left the bank holding James Kraft and Mrs. A. W. Schafer hostage and used them as shields.[3] Mrs. Schafer tripped and fell at the door, and the men ran to the getaway car without her. During this Webber was fatally shot in the eye and the gang responded by shooting Kraft in the head. Harmon was also shot in the neck and knee while trying to run to the car. The remaining gang members managed to drive off and escape. Later they stopped the car to push Webber and Kraft's body onto the side of the road.[4] Previous to the robbery, the gang had practiced their escape route making sure to periodically leave gas cans in order to avoid having to stop in towns where they could be easily tracked down. At At this point Harmon was suffering badly from his injuries, so Holden and Keating left him near an abandoned farm with a handful of securities in case he survived. Holden and Keating were able to escape without being caught for eight months after the robbery occurred. Eventually they were caught in Missouri and were taken to Leavenworth prison[3]

Murders[edit]

Serial Killer: Alvin Taylor[edit]

Alvin Taylor is connected to at least four murders in the cities of Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Esko.[5] All four murders happened between 1985 and 1987, and all four men were said to be friends of Taylor’s. While attending the funeral of Timothy Hayden, one of his victims, Taylor was arrested. He eventually confessed to killing Hayden, Robert Williams, James Severson, and Daniel Lundgren.[6] Williams died from a gunshot wound in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in July of 1985. In 1986, Taylor stabbed Severson in his apartment in Eau Claire. Taylor also shot his roommate, Lundgren, after a dispute over Lundgren wanting to move out.[7] Haden, a University of Wisconsin- Stout maintenance worker in Menomonie, suffered a gunshot wound on March 27th, 1987 and was later found dead in his apartment.[6] Taylor also later admitted to Dunn County official, Sheriff Richard A. Risler, that he killed a man named Daniel Lundgren from West Bend, Wisconsin in 1987. Authorities questioned the validity of this confession because it was believed that Lundgren died from injuries associated with a car accident November 29th, 1987.[7] Taylor was diagnosed with a delusional disorder and was, therefore, found incompetent to stand trial. He was placed in Mendota Mental Health Institute and has remained there for about 25 years. Currently, Taylor is filling for the third time for the chance to be released, but it has not yet been decided if his mental state is stable enough to not pose a threat to society.[8] 

Torture Killing of Abdullah al-Gahtani[edit]

The body of 16 year old Abdullah al-Gahtani was found November 5th, 1995 in his apartment that he shared with four other men. Al-Gahtani had been tortured and beaten by his roommates for months before his death, three of which were his cousins and the fourth being a family friend. A criminal complaint was filed on November 10th, 1995 when the news story was released stating al-Gahtani was, “limping and fit the scene as if he was in costume” near a Halloween party on October 28th.[9]  Although this incident caused fear in local Muslim communities, it was not believed to be linked to religion even though al-Gahtani was punished after incorrectly answering questions about the Qur’an.[9] It was observed when his body was found that al-Gahtani had suffered many major injuries. These injuries included, a broken arm, a branding mark on his chest believed to be done with the burner of a camping stove, multiple bruises, and countless welts from being whipped to the extent where most of the skin was missing from his back. According to the initial autopsy results, al-Gahtani died from pneumonia, dehydration, blood loss or septic shock from the wounds.[10] Ahmed al-Gahtani, Mshaal al—Shammari, Yahya al-Gahtani, and Turky al-Gahtani were all charged with reckless homicide; although, they denied these accusations.[9]

UW-Stout Pipe Bomber[edit]

Clock tower at UW - Stout
Clock Tower and University of Wisconsin - Stout, where Helder attended school

Luke Helder, also known as the Midwest Pipe Bomber, was a Junior at University of Wisconsin - Stout in 2002. Helder developed an interest in anti-government propaganda which eventually led to him developing a plan to set off pipe bombs across the U.S. Helder intended to draw a giant smiley face on the U.S. map through thoroughly planned out bombing locations. The eyes were made up by groups of bombs in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska; although, the ten bombs in Nebraska were never set up to detonate. The mouth of the smiley face was charted to have bombs set off in various places across Colorado, Texas, and beyond; two bombs were actually planted in these locations for the mouth, but never actually exploded.[11] Helder lost interest in this plan after an unanticipated urge to see the Pacific Ocean. He still managed to complete part of the smiley face which included 18 bombs set up in mailboxes. Six people were wounded by Helder’s pipe bombs over the span of five days, four of whom were mail carriers. Almost all of the bombs were accompanied by “anti-government propaganda” that hinted at the idea that there would be more pipe bombs set up in the future.[12] Helder location was discovered after he turned on his cell phone and mailed several letters to family and UW-Stout’s student newspaper, and he was eventually caught and arrested in Nebraska during a high-speed chase where he possessed two guns and five pipe bombs.[12] Helder was found incompetent to stand trial by a federal judge in April of 2004, so he currently remains incarcerated in the Federal Medical Center located in Rochester, Minnesota.[13]

External Links[edit]

DCHS: The Kraft State Bank Robbery

Crime rates for Menomonie, WI

Alerts, Statistics, and Logs

Google News Archives: Menomonie

Spot Crime, Menomonie

References[edit]

  1. https://suburbanstats.org/population/wisconsin/how-many-people-live-in-menomonie
  2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crime
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Where the wild rice grows: A sesquicentennial portrait of Menomonie, (1996) Retrieved from: http://www.dunnhistory.org/history/exkraft.html
  4. Hem In Bank Slayers. (1931, October 21). The Milwaukee Sentinel, p. 1, 2.
  5. Stingi, J. (1990, April 8). Wisconsin has Felt a Sting of Serial Killers, Too. The Milwaukee Journal, p. 14. Retrieved From:https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19870619&id=uXxQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hBIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6672,5706560&hl=en
  6. 6.0 6.1 Luthern, A. (2013, July 9). Serial Killer Offers to Meet with Victims' Families. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 12, 2015, from http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/brfserialkiller071013-b9950628z1-214742571.html
  7. 7.0 7.1 Krentz, G. (1987, June 19). Alvin Taylor Confessed in West Bend man's Death. The Milwaukee Sentinel, p. 5. Retrieved from: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19870619&id=uXxQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hBIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6672,5706560&hl=en
  8. Nelson, J. (2013, September 12). Serial killer could see release more than 25 years after 4 murders. Retrieved November 12, 2015, from http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/Serial-killer-could-see-release-more-than-25-years-after-4-murders-223555011.html
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Brooke, J. (1995, November 10). Torture Killing of Youth Stuns Small Town. The New York Times. Retrieved October 29, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/1995/11/10/us/torture-killing-of-youth-stuns-small-town.html 
  10. USA: WISCONSIN: ABDULLAH AL-QAHTANI MURDER TRIAL | AP Archive. (1995, November 21). Retrieved November 10, 2015
  11. Mailbox Bomber Was Making Smiley Face | Fox News. (2002, May 9). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/story/2002/05/09/mailbox-bomber-was-making-smiley-face.html
  12. 12.0 12.1 Pipe-Bomb Suspect Arrested in Nevada | Fox News. (2002, May 8). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/story/2002/05/08/pipe-bomb-suspect-arrested-in-nevada.html
  13. The Timeline of Events in the Case of Accused Mailbox Bomber. (2004, April 2). Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://lasvegassun.com/news/2004/apr/02/the-timeline-of-events-in-the-case-of-accused-mail/