Western Wisconsin's Top Ten Stories of 2005

By: Anna Wagnild
By: Anna Wagnild

Western Wisconsin's Top Ten Stories of 2005

SCHUTH SHOOTS AT NEIGHBORS; ADMITS MOTHER'S BODY IN FREEZER
It was a case that stunned the small French Island community.

After shooting at neighbors over a property dispute, 53 year-old Philip Schuth engaged authorities in an all-night standoff.

In that time, he revealed that although his mother died of natural causes in 2000, her body was in a chest freezer in his basement.

Schuth is serving concurrent sentences in prison.

53 BYPASS PARTIALLY OPEN
Seeing orange on the roadways has become a way of life for travellers in the Chippewa Valley, but this summer, part of the major highway project finished.

A portion of the 53 bypass was opened in June, cutting down on drive time between Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

Target completion date for the entire project is september 2006.

TORNADOES BREAKS RECORD
Twenty-seven twisters hit the state on August 18th, a new one-day record, causing more than $47 million in damage.

Stoughton bore the brunt of the storm, one man died. Gov. Doyle has twice appeal for and been denied federal aid for rebuilding.

STATE SUPPORTS KATRINA VICTIMS
Volunteers stepped into Red Cross training to assist their neighbors in Monroe County and were prepared to be called out when Hurricane Katrina demolished the gulf coast a short time later.

The community mobilized, including answering calls from FEMA, and from within their own hearts to supply projects like Opperation Classmate, which school children across Eau Claire County provided school supplies to displaced counterparts in Louisiana.

The local red cross chapter received $400,000 in donations in the weeks following the hurricane.

JUDGE RULES PRIEST KILLED TWO MEN
In early October, some sense of closure came for the families of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison, murdered while working at a Hudson funeral home in 2002.

A judge found enough evidence to suggest a Catholic priest killed the funeral home director and his intern, based on testimony and interogations.

Ryan Erickson committed suicide in 2004.

FATAL BUS CRASH; COMMUNITY LOSES FIVE MEMBERS
On a trip home from a state competition, Chippewa Falls High School marching band's bus crashed into an overturned semi.

Band director Doug Greenhalgh, his wife Terese, grandaughter Morgan, assistant Branden Atherton and long-time bus driver Paul Rasmus were killed and dozens of others injured.

The Chi-Hi community continues to mourn their loss.

BIBLE BAN FOR R.A.s; UW SYSTEM REVIEWING POLICY
Lance Steiger had written on his application to become a resident assistant that he led a bible study.

Two years later, UW-Eau Claire told him he could face consequences for continuing to host it in his room or dorm.

Now, the university is facing a lawsuit, and the entire UW system is evaluating it's policy.

VANG RECEIVES SIX CONSECUTIVE LIFE SENTENCES
The trial for the murder of six hunters in Sawyer County wrapped up in September with the Dane County jurors finding Chai Vang guilty.

At sentencing in November, survivors and family members spoke out about the past year's pain.

Judge Normal Yackel sentenced Vang to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

MISSING WOMAN INVESTIGATION BECOMES CRIMINAL
21-year-old Christine Rudy went missing in November after police say she argued her husband and got out of the car on a highway near their home.

The Thorp woman was six months pregnant.

Her remains were found along highway"MM" in December.

Clark County Sheriff's Deparment is interviewing people of interest, including Rudy's husband, Shaun.

128TH FINISHES TOUR IN IRAQ
As the war in Iraq continues, so do the contributions of the troops from Wisconsin.

The 128th National Guard Infantry unit, based in Eau Claire, returned home after a tour overseas, in time for the holidays with family and the fresh start that comes with a new year.


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