Wednesday, August 8, 2012

David Spanbauer

Hunting Season

In so many crime stories of the real and unreal, hunters are often the first to find the body.  They are the ones the rural police call to help with searches for lost hikers and missing people.  Sometimes their dogs are the first to find the lost person.  The hunters stalk through the woods with eyes open, looking for tracks and minute signs of not just their quarry but for any disturbance of the woods.  Rarely do they come across the horrifying. Mostly they have a peaceful day in the fields and forests.  Usually in order to access the woodlands, they are forced to park their trucks along the ditches of wooded back roads.
Two hunters found the body of a 12-year-old girl in a ditch along a country road. It was September 10, 1994, near the small village of Kempster, an area known as the “Gateway to Wisconsin’s Northwoods.” There were no clothes on her body and her hands were bound behind her back with ripped shreds of a pink t-shirt.  She had been beaten, raped, strangled and stabbed in the abdominal area and chest.  She had been there for five days. The hunter-killer left one clue, a small speck of evidence that would later be used against him.  It was a carpet fiber found on the girl’s body.
Kempster, Wisconsin
Kempster, Wisconsin
Chief Deputy Larry Shadick of the Langlade County Sheriff Department likened it to hunting.  He said of the killer, “He just was hunting. Like when you go hunting, he found himself a victim.”

The Sexual Deviate

David Frank Spanbauer
David Frank Spanbauer
David Frank Spanbauer was born into a blue-collar German catholic family in January of 1941 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  He was the oldest child of Frank and Evelyn Spanbauer and he had two younger sisters, Judy and Mary.  Frank was tough on his only son and they had a troublesome relationship.  When David was 14 years old, his father passed away from a heart problem.
The scores of blacked out entries on Spanbauer’s juvenile record indicate he had some tangles with the law in his teenage years.  He dropped out of Oshkosh High School just after his seventeenth birthday and joined the Navy.  He was a basket case in the military.  He received three courts martial for being absent without leave and spent seven months in the brig.  His mother received a letter from naval doctors stating they thought David needed psychiatric care, but no further mention was made of the issue. He received a dishonorable discharge and returned to Wisconsin in November of 1959.
Oshkosh High School
Oshkosh High School
After his aborted attempt at navy life, he went back to Oshkosh High School to pick up where he left off, but soon his twisted inclinations propelled him into the first major criminal event of his life.  On January 3, 1960, he broke into a home in Appleton and made away with two diamond rings, a hunting knife, a bottle of booze, some cash and a .22 handgun.  One night later in Neenah, a town ten miles north of Oshkosh, he robbed a home with his new pistol.
A week later in Appleton, a mother slept in another room while her 13-year-old daughter studied.  A masked man entered the house and stole some cash.  He flashed a pistol at the girl and hauled her out behind the garage.
“I’m going to rape you,” he said.
“What does that mean?” asked the girl.
The 19-year-old Spanbauer answered by smacking her twice.  The girl screamed and attracted the attention of a person passing by.  He ran off and drove to Green Bay.
That evening on January 12, 1960, Carol Grady, a 16-year-old girl was babysitting her cousins. As she played the piano, Spanbauer lurked outside the house watching her through the window.  Armed with his pistol, he entered the house and pocketed a small amount of cash, and brought the teenager to the bedroom.  Spanbauer lashed her down spread-eagle on the bed and slashed apart her clothes with a knife and raped her.
Her uncle returned and Spanbauer shot him in the face and escaped from the house.  Since his first burglary when he procured the handgun, Spanbauer drifted around the southeastern Wisconsin area for almost a month and a half.  There is a record of an attempted robbery near Milwaukee, and finally he was picked up for carrying a concealed firearm in Sheboygan County on February 16th.
Spanbauer broke down in police custody and told his stories and everything came out.  In court, the judge labeled him as a “sexual deviate” and sentenced him to seventy years in prison:  David Spanbauer, age 19, Wisconsin convict, sexual deviate.

Life’s a Beach

During his prison time, Spanbauer’s mother, Evelyn, hammered authorities with letters encouraging her son’s release at his parole hearings.  She wrote to Gov. Warren Knowles and claimed her son was not a pervert, and Spanbauer’s conviction was a result of the rape victim being a licentious woman, and of Spanbauer being poor.
Governor Warren Knowles
Governor Warren Knowles
His mother’s efforts were useless.  Prison officials constantly suspected him of homosexual liaisons with other inmates, especially younger prisoners.  They also noted he was an intelligent and good worker, yet his temper was vicious. During his 1971 parole hearing, Spanbauer had an outburst and later claimed he had no control over what he couldn’t alter.  While in prison, he got a tattoo of a devil on his forearm and it would be a symbol of his potential for evil and an incriminating mark.
He was finally released in May of 1972 and it seemed like his was making positive steps in his life.  He enrolled at Madison Area Technical College and maintained a B average while living at the YMCA at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison.  But he quickly became entangled in the local crime scene.  He let an escaped prisoner borrow his car and the fugitive was arrested after a robbery in nearby Middleton.  Spanbauer was dangerously close to going back to prison.
In 1913, the Wisconsin government created the first prisoner work release program for those in county jails.  Inmates are allowed go to work in the morning, but must return to jail to stay overnight.  Known as the “Huber Law,” it is has long been a part of Wisconsin’s legal lingo:
“I heard Crazy Joe is in jail for beating up a drunk farmer at the Hilltop Tavern.”
“Yeah, but he scored a job as a janitor at Lambeau Field and is out on Huber.”
For being involved in the robbery case, Spanbauer did some time in the Dane County Jail but was able to get out with Huber Law privileges working for the Madison Parks Department.
Madison is often called by its nickname “Mad Town,” and it’s been referred to as “The City of Four Lakes.” Two of the lakes, Lake Mendota and Lake Monona characterize the city by forming a narrow isthmus that blends the downtown, university, and capitol districts.  The lakes lend the city much beauty and dotting the shoreline are parks with beaches.  As soon as the warm spring weather starts blending into hints of a hot summer, the beaches are loaded with coeds from the university.
Spanbauer worked the parks and the city beaches in the hot summer sun of 1972.  He eyeballed the bikini-clad women lying in the sun.  He just spent 13 years in prison.  The half-naked women at the beach drove him mad with sexual urges.  Later he told psychiatrists he did what he did out of sexual frustration, and he simply couldn’t wait any longer.  He said to a social worked that he was “asocial,” and must have been “born retarded.”

Top Ten List

Token Creek Park
Token Creek Park
He knew of Token Creek Park, and that is where he drove to rape the girl.  She was a 17-year-old waitress out hitchhiking.  He picked her up on Highway 51 by brandishing a knife and while driving to the park, he told her that he was going to rape her and when he was through with her, he would run her over with his car and toss her body in a ditch.  She started crying, and David Spanbauer cried along with her.  It was August 11, 1972.  He tied up her hands and had his way with her.
A lonely stretch of road known as Highway 51
A lonely stretch of road known as Highway 51
She told the police the man had a tattoo of the devil on his forearm, and later when Spanbauer was rounded up as a suspect, she identified him as the man who raped her.  Spanbauer tried to play it all off.  In his eyes they got along fine and that everything was cool and they had consensual sex.
Spanbauer was found guilty for abduction and rape and Assistant District Attorney John Burr asked for the maximum sentence of 50 years on top of what Spanbauer would receive for violating his parole.
With all of the facts of the case before him, Judge Richard Bardwell reasoned that the rape was much more “mild” than Spanbauer’s previous rape—the one where he tied the victim down spread eagle, raped her at knife point and then blasted another man in the face with a handgun.  Therefore, the judge figured, Spanbauer has moved from being a “very dangerous sex offender” to now merely “just dangerous … so there has been some improvement.” He noted that Spanbauer was still a sociopath but his tendencies weren’t so severe.  Bardwell gave Spanbauer 12 years in prison than ran concurrent with his revoked parole. ”The girl was in effect asking for it,” said Bardwell, “They are tempting fate when they do it.”
Assistant District Attorney Burr thought Spanbauer was a threat to society and was enraged by the light sentence.  Burr later said that Spanbauer was, “in the top ten of the most vicious and violent people I’ve ever had the displeasure of coming in contact with.”

Top Ten List

Token Creek Park
Token Creek Park
He knew of Token Creek Park, and that is where he drove to rape the girl.  She was a 17-year-old waitress out hitchhiking.  He picked her up on Highway 51 by brandishing a knife and while driving to the park, he told her that he was going to rape her and when he was through with her, he would run her over with his car and toss her body in a ditch.  She started crying, and David Spanbauer cried along with her.  It was August 11, 1972.  He tied up her hands and had his way with her.
A lonely stretch of road known as Highway 51
A lonely stretch of road known as Highway 51
She told the police the man had a tattoo of the devil on his forearm, and later when Spanbauer was rounded up as a suspect, she identified him as the man who raped her.  Spanbauer tried to play it all off.  In his eyes they got along fine and that everything was cool and they had consensual sex.
Spanbauer was found guilty for abduction and rape and Assistant District Attorney John Burr asked for the maximum sentence of 50 years on top of what Spanbauer would receive for violating his parole.
With all of the facts of the case before him, Judge Richard Bardwell reasoned that the rape was much more “mild” than Spanbauer’s previous rape—the one where he tied the victim down spread eagle, raped her at knife point and then blasted another man in the face with a handgun.  Therefore, the judge figured, Spanbauer has moved from being a “very dangerous sex offender” to now merely “just dangerous … so there has been some improvement.” He noted that Spanbauer was still a sociopath but his tendencies weren’t so severe.  Bardwell gave Spanbauer 12 years in prison than ran concurrent with his revoked parole. ”The girl was in effect asking for it,” said Bardwell, “They are tempting fate when they do it.”
Assistant District Attorney Burr thought Spanbauer was a threat to society and was enraged by the light sentence.  Burr later said that Spanbauer was, “in the top ten of the most vicious and violent people I’ve ever had the displeasure of coming in contact with.”

Mr. Nice Guy

He continued to pine for an early parole and continued to mention his former wife as part of his plan of making a new positive life once he got out.  Spanbauer planned on moving in with her, but nothing he could scheme could change the adamant decision of the Parole Board.  They continually refused parole until they no longer could, until the mandatory release date on Jan. 29, 1991.  Spanbauer finished doing time.
He left prison with $8,000 in savings from his prison work and moved in with his sister, Judy who was married to Clark Tadych, an Oshkosh police officer.  It was a temporary stay and once he got settled in with a job at the local Seven-Up bottling plant he moved into an apartment of his own on the west side of Oshkosh.
He was out on parole and had to file reports of his on-goings and whereabouts.  In his descriptions of what he was up to, he would write a dull platitude and tag at the end of the sentence:  “Smile!” as if it were an early handwritten version of the smiley face icon used in today’s Internet chat rooms and message boards.  Everything was fine, he wrote, and it seemed like he was readjusting to life on the outside.
On Christmas Eve of 1991, Spanbauer had a heart attack and for a moment, there was no heartbeat, but the doctors brought him back to life.  His poor heart condition would haunt him for the remainder of his life.
He worked early mornings and finished up mid-afternoon at the bottling plant and would head to a couple nearby taverns to knock back a few cold ones.  He never got blatantly drunk; he was a slow and steady drinker that minded his own business and one tavern owner tagged him to be a “nice guy.”

The Bicycles

Winneconne, Wisconsin
Winneconne, Wisconsin
Winneconne is a small town of the Fox valley region, not far from Spanbauer’s known circle of roaming around.  In the early 1990′s, a band of drunken redneck teenagers called the “Winneconne Possum Kickers,” prowled back roads and shined opossums with flashlights.  Once the opossum froze up, they kicked the animal to death with steel-toe work boots.  That was evening entertainment for the local juvenile delinquents of the area in a time when women and girls started disappearing.
Winneconne was the home of 20-year-old Laura Depies.  She worked at the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute and when she finished her shift on August 19, 1992, she went over to visit her friends in Menasha and she never showed up.  Her friends found her locked car in their apartment parking lot.  David Spanbauer just started his summer vacation the day before.  She is still missing to this day.
Laura Depies
Laura Depies
Another girl disappeared. Her bicycle was found near her rural home in Ripon in Fond du Lac County on August 23, 1992.    Six weeks later her body was found about 100 miles away in a cornfield ditch near Tower Hill State Park, not far from the Wisconsin River.  Her name was Ronelle Eichstedt.  She was ten years old.  David Spanbauer raped and killed her.  He used his 1988 four-door Eagle Premiere to transport her body.  He sold that and later bought a maroon 1991 Pontiac Bonneville.
Ronelle Eichstedt
Ronelle Eichstedt
Almost two years later, on the Fourth of July of 1994, 24-year-old Miriam Stariha was riding her bike on a country road near Hartman Creek State Park when a maroon Pontiac banged into her bike hard enough for her to crash.  Spanbauer emerged from the car.  He said he was trying to scare her, and he held a pistol.  Another car coming down the road, slowed down and Spanbauer got back in his car and drove away.
Hartman Creek State Park welcome center
Hartman Creek State Park welcome center
Stariha reported the incident to the police. The FBI hired a professional artist from California to sketch out the suspect’s features, one of six pictures of what they thought the attacker might look like, including a side profile.  State and federal investigators in charge of the case were unsure if they had reliable composite drawings and they decided only to release the sketches to involved law enforcement bodies.  They already had plenty of leads to follow-up on and the special agents did not want a flood of bad tips coming in if the sketch were shown to the public.

The Last Bicycle

Spanbauer was on a roll in the summer and autumn of 1994.  It was the longest stint of freedom he ever tasted since he was 19 years old.  It was overwhelming.  He exploited it.  For him, robbery, rape and murder were addicting if you did not get caught.
His crime spree continued throughout the Fox Valley region.  He burglarized homes with the intention of there being no confrontation, just a matter of getting the goods, in and out, but if a person were home, he produced a pistol to finish the robbery at gunpoint. On July 9th, less than a week later after he attacked Stariha, Spanbauer broke into a home in Appleton armed with a handgun.  He thought nobody was home, but he found 21-year-old Trudi Jeschke in a bedroom and fired one shot into her chest.  She would have been a witness. She died from the bullet wound.  He later ditched the gun at Menominee Park in Oshkosh.
On Labor Day, September 5th, a 12-year-old girl from nearby Weyauwega rode her bike on Sanders Road near her grandma’s house in the township of Dayton.  It wasn’t far from the place where Spanbauer ran down Stariha in his car.  He got her into his car and molested her and he drove 75 miles north up into Langlade County near Kempster.  Five or six hours transpired from when he picked her up and when he finally decided to end it.   He strangled and stabbed her and threw her body into a steep ditch.
Police organized a search for the missing girl using a country church for the headquarters.  Hundreds of volunteers helped canvass the surrounding woods in a ten mile perimeter and the FBI joined the case.  Her body was found body five days later.  Her name was Cora Jones.
Cora Jones
Cora Jones
His attacks continued and occurred with regularity. On October 20th, he raped a fifteen year old girl and on November 5th, he raped a 31-year-old woman in the Appleton area.  By now the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department, the Langlade County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation were on the case, suspecting the string of assaults and murders were more than a coincidence.
Waupaca County Sheriff's Department
Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department

Citizen’s Tackle

Combined Locks is a small Wisconsin town named after the boat locks on the Fox River.  It’s a quiet, woodsy place; an old sawmill and pulp paper town that reminds one of David Lynch’s rural community of Twin Peaks. It is not the place where killers roam through people’s backyards.
On November 14th, 1994, Gerald Argall went to his home in Combined Locks and discovered a man breaking into his house.  He gave chase and tackled and wrestled the 53 year-old man into submission and when the police arrived, they arrested the prowler on burglary charges.
While in custody, the police noticed that the tools found in the suspect’s car matched those used in the two home invasion rapes that happened earlier that fall.  The police kept up their interrogations and after four days, he confessed in the presence of his attorney, Tom Zoesch, to kidnapping and killing the two little girls and for the shooting death of Jeschke.
David Spanbauer cuffed, in custody
David Spanbauer cuffed, in custody
Langlade County Sheriff David Steger said that his confession contained details that only the killer would know about and felt that, “he is our guy.”  The cases were finally closed.  He was the man that left Ronelle dead near the Wisconsin River two years before.  He also confessed to the rapes and numerous burglaries.  And yes, he was the man in the sketch picture, the one that knocked Stariha off her bike near Hartman Creek State Park.  Analysis of the carpet fiber found on the body of Cora Jones proved to match the carpet of Spanbauer’s Pontiac Bonneville.  Spanbauer was cleared of any connection to the 1992 case of Laura Depies.
Cora Jones
Cora Jones

Offal of the Cesspool

Spanbauer’s crimes ranged through five counties and each county prosecutor wanted a piece of him.  Spanbauer’s attorney negotiated that the eighteen charges be consolidated at one venue, and the case landed in Outagamie County, and into the lap of Prosecutor Vince Biskupic.
At the Outagamie County courthouse, wanted posters were tacked to the wall, and one of them hanging up at the time of the trial asked for information about the Trudi Jeschke case and volunteered a $10,000 reward for tips that led to the killer’s capture.  Another poster called for information regarding the Depies case.  They were only two of other faces of missing women that hung on the wall.
During the proceedings, Biskupic painted Spanbauer as the criminal he was, calling him a ”festering soul” and a coward and asked him to turn to face the courtroom audience composed of the victim’s families stricken with grief.  “He’s evil. And at the same time he’s pathetic,” said Biskupic.
Spanbauer said nothing. He was 53 years old but looked slightly older, his hair was gray and thin, the appearance of an oaf that spent 35 years of adulthood in prison.  Spanbauer’s attorney, Zoesch, admitted that his client was sane and felt remorse.
Spanbauer did not age well
Spanbauer did not age well
On Thursday, December 8th, 1994 Spanbauer pleaded no contest to two charges and guilty to the remaining sixteen charges.  He was found guilty for first-degree intentional homicide in the Jones and Eichstedt murders and guilty on all other counts.
The sentencing came on Dec. 20th.  The courtroom was packed to see what fate Spanbauer would receive.  The county courthouse was full of the families of Cora, Ronelle and Trudi, and also the families of Spanbauer’s two previous rape victims.  It was standing room only and part of the audience was sent out of the courtroom to watch the verdict on television.
Circuit Judge James Bayorgeon was a far different judge that Judge Bardwell back in 1972.  There was no leniency and there was no speculation of any innate goodness that might be left and coaxed out of Spanbauer in any kind of rehabilitation.  It was the end of the road for him.
Judge Bayorgeon said, ”I don’t know from what cesspool in hell you slithered forth and I can’t send you back.” He speculated that it couldn’t be possible for the God they believed in “would let a piece of offal like you walk this earth.”
A memorial sits near where Cora was discovered.
A memorial sits near where Cora was discovered.
He took into account the life expectancies of Cora Jones, Ronelle Eichstedt, and Trudi Jeschke to calculate the time he deserved to be in prison and Spanbauer was handed three life terms plus the maximum consecutive sentences on the other crimes, a total of 403 years. The earliest possible time Spanbauer could be a free man would be December 20, 2191.  He would die in prison.

No Tears

Spanbauer knew prison life.  He knew very well what the prison population’s attitude is toward to high-profile child rapists and killers.  He knew he would end up dead, and he told his fears to his attorney. Spanbauer’s lawyer, Tom Zoesch, presented a deal for Spanbauer to be imprisoned in another state.
Jeffery Dahmer in custody
Jeffery Dahmer in custody
It was not an unthinkable concern.  Around the time of Spanbauer’s arrest in November 1994, Wisconsin’s most vicious serial killer and boy rapist, the Milwaukee cannibal Jeffery Dahmer, had been doing time in the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage.  While working janitorial duties with two other convicts, he was found dead with a crushed skull.  His fellow inmate, Christopher Scarver, beat him to death with a broom handle.
Inmate Christopher Scarver
Inmate Christopher Scarver
The deal was cut and Spanbauer saved himself from being shanked.  He was sent to the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault, Minnesota, a medium-security prison. While serving his time there, he returned back to Appleton for a secret court hearing in early December 1998.  His health at the time was poor, but he made the trip to inform the police where he ditched the murder weapon in the 1994 Jeschke case.  Menominee Park in Oshkosh, he told them and with his accurate details, the police located the gun within half an hour.
Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault
Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault
In October 2000, he was secretly transferred back over the state line to Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun.  Spanbauer’s lawyer, Tom Zoesch, didn’t know about the transfer, only that the letters they exchanged mysteriously stopped that autumn.  He was informed of Spanbauer’s presence in Wisconsin by a journalist when the story broke in the local media in early May 2001 that the killer was back in the state.  The reason cited for the move was that Spanbauer was suffering from heart problems and that the prison at Waupun could attend to his medical condition better because it staffed a 24-hour infirmary.
Zoesch noted in his contact with Spanbauer over the years that he was friendly, smart, and polite yet he had a side of evil and darkness, “a kind of a Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde personality,” he said.  In Spanbauer’s remaining months he was trying to arrange for an interview with the Post-Crescent for a fee.  He wanted to clean his conscious and make a few bucks on the side.  It never happened since the newspaper’s policy is not to pay for interviews.
Spanbauer died on Monday, July 29th, 2002 at Dodge Correctional Institution.  He was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. in the prison hospital. An autopsy revealed that final stage liver disease and coronary heart disease were the causes of death.  Spanbauer previously instructed the doctors that he should not be resuscitated if he flat-lined.
Biskupic, who now is in private practice, commented that “you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is shedding a tear over this death.” His body was not claimed and no family was present when Spanbauer was buried on Thursday near the prison grounds, but the details were handled by Spanbauer’s niece in Florida, who felt that Spanbauer almost treated her “like a daughter.” A prison chaplain performed a brief funeral rite.
When the father of Cora was notified about Spanbauer’s death he said he felt shocked at first then felt a sense of relief, as if a weight was taken off him, and that it was time that Spanbauer met the “true judge.”  He also was disgusted at the idea of his tax dollars paying for Spanbauer’s incarceration and medical care every time he looked at his paycheck.  “There will be a party tonight,” he said.

Evil Management 101

When Spanbauer was sentenced to three life terms plus 403 years in prison, Judge Bayorgeon called him “pure evil,” and after he was locked up, the legacy of David Spanbauer raged in Wisconsin’s opinion pages, courtrooms and congressional halls.
The Officers present represented members of the Langlade County Sheriff's Department, Waupaca County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the Appleton Police Department
The Officers present represented members of the Langlade County Sheriff’s Department, Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department, Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the Appleton Police Department
The issues were numerous in the late 1990s. Many people thought the criminal justice system failed miserably because Spanbauer only served 13 years out of a 70-year sentence.  Again he was convicted, sentenced, and released again only to go on a rampage.   Spanbauer became a poster boy for tougher laws and bringing up his name in a political address was a sure way to appeal to the Wisconsin masses. Talk of the criminal justice reforms wasn’t much to console the families of the victims.  A year after her death, a memorial service gathered to remember Cora Jones and a pink cross entwined with roses marked the place where she was abducted.
State Representative Dean Kaufert
State Representative Dean Kaufert
State Representative Dean Kaufert of the Fox Valley region where Spanbauer hunted his victims, penned a bill supporting chemical castration of pedophiles.  It was later passed and approved by Governor Tommy Thompson. Some called for the death penalty to be reintroduced in Wisconsin.  In 1850, John McCaffry drowned his wife in a hogshead barrel in Kenosha and was executed by hanging in front of about 2,000 townspeople.  He was the last person to be executed in the state and in 1853 the death penalty was abolished.
In a related legal battle in 1996 regarding crime reporting and freedom of information, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and WTMJ Newsradio.  They sued the state of Wisconsin for withholding the prison records of Spanbauer, along with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and his killer, Christopher Scarver, and Jesse Anderson, a murderer associated with Dahmer’s death.
There was another party that wanted to know more about Spanbauer’s release from prison.  Carol Grady spent most of her life believing than Spanbauer would be behind bars for the crimes he perpetrated in 1960.  When the news of his 1994 arrest was broadcast, she was stunned and she felt like a victim again.  She thought Spanbauer would be an 86-year-old man when he would be finally released.  Disgusted and horrified that she was never notified of his earlier release; Grady campaigned for truth-in-sentencing and victim’s rights advocacy.
In May of 1997, a truth-in-sentencing proposal arrived and it was spearheaded by Carol Grady with a petition holding thousands of signatures.   Felons would serve the time they are given—no early releases, and they would serve a “community supervision” term that is a minimum of a quarter of their prison sentence.  Twenty years in prison would mean twenty years.   The proposal met wide support from political parties on each end of the spectrum.
By the spring of 1998, the Wisconsin Senate passed a bill dubbed, “two-strikes-you’re-out.”  It was designed for those that commit crimes against children.  If convicted twice, the offender would receive a life sentence.  The bill encompassed sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, incest, and nearly all forms of sexual exploitation or exposure.
The political winds carried the awareness of victim’s rights, but in March of 1999, a television commercial aired across the state that angered people over its poor taste.  It was 60-second ad supporting Sharren Rose for a seat on the state Supreme Court and it used the voice of the grandmother of Cora Jones.  She tearfully said in a voiceover, “Cora was 12 years old when she was abducted and murdered. It’s been almost five years and I hurt just as bad.” The commercial cuts in with the blunt message:  “Wisconsin’s sexual predator law was passed to stop what happened to Cora from ever happening again,” and then it attacked the incumbent Justice Abrahamson, who once opposed the sexual predator law.  Critics of the commercial called it shameful cheap-shot that exploited the pain of Spanbauer’s victims and their families.
Many people leave flowers and stuffed animals at the memorial for Cora Jones
Many people leave flowers and stuffed animals at the memorial for Cora Jones
The four-term Outagamie District Attorney Vince Biskupic continued to successfully prosecute violent criminals and his skills and passion propelled him to run as the 2002 Republican candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General. “Evil needs an adversary,” he said, and he dropped one name as an example:  David Spanbauer.

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