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Bail set for man charged in double murder

By: AP and WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: AP and WEAU 13 News Staff Email

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Bail is set at $10 million for a Minnesota man charged with killing a father and son at their La Crosse photography store.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch, of Dakota, Minnesota appeared Thursday in Winona County court in Minnesota. Lepsch could have waived extradition to Wisconsin, but asked to appear with an attorney.

The judge appointed a public defender and set the next court appearance for October 18th.

Investigators believe Lepsch walked into the downtown La Crosse shop on September 15th and killed 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. Petras. Police say Lepsch stole $16,000 in camera equipment

Lepsch remains in the Winona County Jail.

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- La Crosse Police now say the suspect in a double murder at an area business killed a man and his son as he tried to rob the place.

39-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minnesota is facing murder charges in the deaths of A.J. and Paul Petras.

They were found shot to death in May’s Photo on main street in La Crosse more than 3-weeks ago. Tonight, Lepsch is in jail.

It was surveillance video that showed that Jeffery Lepsch was the last man to leave Mays Photo on September 15th.

“Police were able to obtain surveillance video from various businesses in the area of Mays Photo shop and police observed a male subject wearing a grey sweatshirt with a hood over his head carrying a backpack enter at 1:53 p.m. The same subject exits the business at 2:58 p.m. carrying 4 bags including the backpack filled with unknown items,” said Police Chief Ronald Tischer.

Police say more than 16 thousand dollars worth of equipment was stolen, a safe had been cleaned out, and another had bullet holes in it.

Police say Lepsch was likely trying to sell the gear.

“Police determined he had ties on his facebook page to National Camera Exchange, Nikon, Canon and other photography based organizations. Enrapture Photography he apparently owned,” said Tischer.

Investigators found some of the stolen equipment in Lepsch’s home.
Lepsch hasn’t admitted to the crime and was interrogated for one hour by the police before he requested legal council.

Lepsch appeared in Winona court Thursday morning, and La Crosse District Attorney Tim Gruenke believes it could be months before Lepsch enters the La Crosse courthouse.

Finding the answers to some of their questions has friends of the Petras family getting some closure.

“Emotions range from relief that they found him to rage and in between is sorrow that dominates the whole picture,” said Paul Petras’s good fried Ted Whitney.

Whitney was at the news conference, he planned to pass the information on to Petras’s wife Sherri.

“I talk to her just about every day. There are good days and bad days and that’s what you expect for a tragedy like this,” said Whitney.

Police also questioned Lepsch’s wife. Chief Tischer doesn’t believe she is involved.

“Coming to rest is only the initial part of the investigation, we still have a lot of work to do before we can bring this case before the courts,” said Tischer.

Officers say Lepsch stole more than 60 thousand dollars worth of equipment from Ace Hardware in La Crosse in a separate incident prior to the homicides.

Police say a 22-caliber gun was the murder weapon. They haven’t recovered it.

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Police say a Minnesota man charged with killing a father and son at their La Crosse photography store stole $16,000 in camera equipment.

Prosecutors have charged 39-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minn., with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. They were found shot to death in the family's downtown photography shop on Sept. 15.

Lepsch also faces one count of armed robbery and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Police Chief Ron Tischer told reporters during a news conference on Thursday surveillance video shows Lepsch entering and leaving the shop in a blue van.

Investigators traced the van to Lepsch's home, where they recovered 14 pieces of camera equipment from the Petras' shop.

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – The La Crosse Police Department says it has arrested a man in the May’s Photo double murder.

It says officers have arrested Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minnesota. It says they arrested Lepsch Wednesday afternoon hear his home.

It says it’s not releasing any further information at this time, but will host a news conference Thursday morning at 10:00 AM. WEAU will have a reporter there and we’ll bring you the latest as it happens here on WEAU.com and on our Facebook page.


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