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Rick gets life for Bear Trap murder-arson

 

December 27, 2017



Editor’s note: Prosecution on two fronts that resulted from the arson-murder investigation that began in 2016 at the Bear Trap Inn at Saxon, Wis., was voted by the Daily Globe staff as the number 4 story of 2017.

By RALPH ANSAMI

ransami@yourdailyglobe.com

Hurley — An empty lot in Saxon, Wis., is about all that remains in one of the most sordid criminal chapters in the history of Iron County.

On June 1, Donald Rick, 45, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for burning down the Bear Trap Inn, killing Lisa Waldros, of Kimball.

At the sentencing hearing in Iron County Court, Dean Waldros, husband of Lisa Waldros, said, “A monster came to Saxon and took the most loving person in this world away. The town of Saxon has never been the same.”

Rick had pleaded guilty to killing Lisa Waldros, while robbing the Bear Trap and setting fire to the building on March 12, 2016, all for less than $200.

Rick, who has lived a life of crime, told Judge Patrick Madden at his sentencing, “If I was you, I’d give me no choice, either.”

In denying any chance for parole, Madden cited the “heinous” nature of the crime.

Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Richard Dufour noted Rick had stabbed Lisa Waldros five times in the neck, once in the jugular vein, and then returned to Bear Trap and poured gas on her and lit it as she was still alive.

In a highly emotional day in the courtroom, family members expressed the fear, pain and anxieties they experienced that linger after the death.

Ashley Herman, the eldest daughter of Lisa Waldros, said, “Nothing will ever be the same without her.”

“I probably am a monster,” Rick, a Hurley native, told the court.

His attorney said childhood trauma and the fact he was no longer using Prozac he was previously given in prison contributed to his actions.

The courtroom drama connected with the case didn’t end with Rick’s conviction.

His girlfriend at the time of the arson-murder, Jessica Carli, 42, of Saxon, was sentenced later that month for helping Rick to attempt to hide evidence after he set fire to the bar.

Carli was sentenced to four years in prison and another four years of extended supervision for aiding a felon as a party to a crime. Madden’s sentence was harsher than the six months in county jail and three years probation Dufour had sought or the two years in prison recommended in the pre-sentence investigation.

Carli apologized to the family and friends for bringing Rick to Saxon and for “not doing the right thing” the night of the murder-arson. “I take full responsibility for my actions and I hate myself for all of it. So many lives were destroyed because of me. I will struggle with that guilt for the rest of my life,” she said.

From sifting through the rubble of the building for two days to retrieving clothing thrown into the Bad River at Odanah, the investigation was intense, both at local and state levels.

“I am regularly thanked by local law enforcement and community leaders for the excellent work of the elite team at the Wisconsin Department of Justice that keeps our communities safe,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. “The successful investigation and prosecution of this murderer and arsonist is the latest example of leadership our state has come to expect from DOJ,” he said.

“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 Iron County 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.”

Members of the Waldros family said they will never forget the compassion and dedication Dufour showed throughout the case.

The DOJ was assisted by the sheriff’s department, Iron County District Attorney’s office, Saxon-Gurney Fire Department, Town of Kimball Fire Department, Upson Volunteer Fire Department and Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

 
 

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