ALMA, Wis. (WEAU) - A killer’s escape has people in Alma thinking back to dark days.
Todd Brecht, 54, walked away from a work site at the St. Germain golf course in Vilas County Tuesday.
In 1986, Brecht was convicted of murdering then – Buffalo County District Attorney Roger Hartman in Alma.
Friends of Hartman Thursday said vivid memories of his 1985 death and the court case of Brecht remain, and said they hope he's caught quickly.
Hartman’s friend and retired judge Gary Schlosstein said it started when Hartman found Brecht, his brother-in-law, drunk with a gun.
“Roger you could say perhaps balled (Brecht) out for (being drunk and), said that was absolutely unacceptable,” Schlosstein said. “Roger turned around and started walking down the hallway and of their home like that. And Todd, with the .22 rifle in his hands, shot at him as he was leaving."
“Unfortunately, it went into the lower mid back area and the bullet path actually sliced his diaphragm.”
After crawling for help, Hartman was hospitalized for nearly a month before doctors took him off a ventilator and he died, Schlosstein said.
“I personally spent the night he was murdered at the hospital with he and his wife, Molly and other close friends. A very sad and long evening.”
Brecht was convicted in Hartman’s murder, and sentenced to life. Nearly 27 years later, while out on a worksite in Vilas County, Tuesday, Brecht walked away and wasn’t seen again.
“It amazes me why a person with that many years already in would walk away from a work site in Northern Wisconsin, when he's actually within at least hope of actual release time and why he would go and do something that seems so illogical, but of course the murder itself was illogical.”
“It's a concern you dont want (Brecht) doing it to anybody else,” Hartman’s friend, Larry Balk said.
Thursday, Hartman's friends both personal and professional, remembered him well.
“He was a good guy. When he walked into church or a meeting, you'd pick out roger because he was the best dressed guy there. So he was good for our community,” Balk said.
“I don't feel any threat in the area here as far as (Brecht is) concerned,” Schlosstein said.
“That it's only a question of time before he gets picked up again.”
Schlosstein said most long term inmates go to minimum security prison and said staff isn't to blame for the escape.
Anyone with information on Brecht's whereabouts is asked to contact local law enforcement.