The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Department of Justice praised for Bear Trap murder probe

 


By RALPH ANSAMI

ransami@yourdailyglobe.com

Hurley — After Donald Rick was sentenced for the murder of Lisa Waldros in the March 2016 fire that destroyed the Bear Trap Inn in Saxon, Assistant Attorney General Richard Dufour met with family members to discuss their concerns after an emotional day in court.

That has been standard practice for Dufour all through the ordeal and his devotion to the case and compassion has not been lost on family members.

Rick, 45, a Hurley native, was sentenced by Iron County Judge Patrick J. Madden on Thursday to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for the March 12 murder.

Dean Waldros, of Kimball, the husband of Lisa Waldros, 52, said Dufour has been willing to meet with family members before and after every court proceeding, answering any questions they may have and seeking their input.

“He did a great job. We knew a lot of things that might come up in court that the public wasn’t aware of. He’s a very kind person,” Dean Waldros said of Dufour.

Also praised was the Wisconsin Department of Justice lead investigator in the case, Jerry Katchka. “He’d call up at home and and ask how the family was doing,” Dean Waldros said.

Because there was no trial, there was a wealth of evidence that was collected by investigators that could have been used in court, Dean Waldros said.

At the sentencing, family members described not only how the murder affected them, but how it devastated the entire community.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the Department of Justice’s handling of the case and Dufour’s professionalism is not unique.

“I am regularly thanked by local law enforcement and community leaders for the excellent work of the elite team at the Wisconsin DOJ that keeps our communities safe,” Schimel said Monday.

“The successful investigation and prosecution of this murderer and arsonist is the latest example of leadership our state has come to expect from DOJ. I’m proud to work alongside the men and women of DOJ who delivered justice to this victim’s family and community,” he said.

Rick stabbed Lisa Waldros five times, then doused her and the Bear Trap with gasoline and lit the building on fire.

Sheriff comments

“In Iron County, we are fortunate that these types of terrible tragedies are infrequent occurrences and we do not have to regularly call on the state for assistance,” said Sheriff Tony Furyk. “However, it is a great comfort to know investigators and prosecutors at DOJ are only a phone call away and always willing to help us put the bad guys behind bars.

“I appreciate Attorney General Schimel’s dedication to local law enforcement and commitment to crime victims,” Furyk added.

Schimel noted employees from the DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation Arson Bureau led the investigation. They probed through the charred rubble of the building for two days, assisted by local firefighters, collecting and documenting evidence piece by piece. They found the body under a concrete slab. They later successfully searched the Bad River for evidence connected with the crime, finding a floating tennis shoe.

The DOJ was assisted by the Iron County Sheriff’s Department and its young deputies who gathered statements and interviewed potential suspects.

Also assisting were the Iron County District Attorney’s office, Saxon-Gurney Fire Department, town of Kimball Fire Department, Upson Volunteer Fire Department and the Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, along with a number of volunteers and other area agencies.

Rick’s former girlfriend, Jessica Carli, 42, of Saxon, who is charged with assisting him with disposing of the evidence, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20. A plea agreement has reportedly been worked out.

 
 

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