Tempers flare at meeting about convicted murderer Gary Thiede

By: Mary Rinzel Email
By: Mary Rinzel Email

Emotions boiled over at a packed town hall meeting in Clark County Wednesday night. That's where people were adamant that they don't want a convicted murderer and sex offender released in their rural community.

Gary Thiede was released from prison last December. He remains in the Clark County Jail because the state hasn't found a home for him yet. The Clark County sex offender release team held Wednesday’s meeting about Thiede and the effort to find him a home.

At least 100 people packed into a tiny town hall in the Clark County Town of York. Somewhere in the middle of the meeting, tempers flared and it took the sheriff to calm everyone down.

Clark County Sheriff Louis Rosandich stood on a chair in the back of the town hall when the screaming started. He told the crowd no one wants Thiede in the area. But, there’s nothing anyone in the room can do about it.

“Whether we like it or not, this is the society we live in. We are judged by our peers, by the courts, by the judicial system. Again, none of us in this room like it anymore than anyone does,” Rosandich said.

Gary Thiede was convicted of killing 16-year-old Robert Aponte in Jackson County in 1988. He was later convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl he knew in Clark County.

Thiede was supposed to live at a home on County Road C northeast of Neillsville. But, the landlords backed out after neighbors complained. It was those landlords who asked for this meeting to get the correct information out to people in the area.

Jodi Vageli with the Department of Corrections says regardless of the tense nature of the meeting, she's glad everyone came out because when a home is found for Thiede, the more people who know about him the better.

"I'm concerned about having a sex offender in our community. We have such a nice community and I have heard with his history that he will repeat again," Angela Vine told us ahead of the meeting. She lives in the area.

"I have five children from nine to two years old. My husband and I are both extremely against him being so close to families that have small children that he could repeat again," said Tammy Mendoza.

State law says Theide has to be released in Clark County because that's the county where he was convicted of the sexual assault. He will be on GPS and electronic monitoring when he's released. Right now, the state doesn't have plans for a home for Thiede.


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