Harmon charged in girlfriend's murder in Black River Falls

By: WEAU 13 News Staff, Olga Michail and Joe Nelson Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff, Olga Michail and Joe Nelson Email
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We have a crew on the way to Black River Falls, and we’ll have more on this breaking story tonight on WEAU 13 News at 5.

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- The suspect in the murder of a Black River Falls woman has been charged with murder.

Prosecutors say Michael Harmon, 36, intentionally killed his girlfriend Angela Nelson, 34, at their rented apartment on Chestnut Street in Black River Falls on June 8th. Nelson died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Police say Harmon admitted to killing Nelson, but he says it was an accident. Nelson's sister Amber Rhodes says the family finally got the peace of mind knowing that Harmon has been charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide.

In the criminal complaint filed Friday, Michael Harmon says he and Angela Nelson were fighting all day. And it was during a struggle over a gun, when he shot her.

“He says the gun went off in the struggle but autopsy confirms otherwise,” said Rhodes.

Autopsy results did not find evidence that Nelson was shot at a close range. Investigators do not believe Nelson was killed during a struggle for the gun.

“I believe it was a very violent death. Just by amount of damage and things broken, and the way you could see the fight progressed through the rental,” explained Nelson and Harmon’s landlord Terrance Duffy.

Harmon says during the day-long fight, Nelson bit him, slapped him, hit him in the head with a bottle and stabbed him with glass from a broken window.

“She was fighting for her life; damn right she probably did hurt him. The report says that she got the best of him- absolutely not. Obviously she didn't get the best of him because she is the one who ended up dead,” said Rhodes.

Harmon says he left the home earlier that evening to "cool off", but returned to grab his clothes. Harmon claims when the fight re-started, Nelson grabbed the gun, and it accidentally fired.

“How do you get shot in the back of the head, when you're struggling for a gun? I can't think of a scenario where that would occur,” added Duffy.

Harmon says then he "got scared" and left for Milwaukee with an ex-girlfriend, that's where police found him.

“I’m hoping he gets life in prison without parole, and that's what he should get for doing that to my sister. That is a lot more than he deserves, he cut her life short,” added Rhodes.

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – The suspect in the murder of a Black River Falls woman who was later caught in Milwaukee faces a murder charge.

Prosecutors filed the charge of First Degree Intentional Homicide as a Repeater against Michael Harmon, 36, of Black River Falls on Friday morning.

A criminal complaint says a friend of Angela Nelson, who was Harmon’s girlfriend, called police on June 8, saying Harmon and Nelson had been fighting. She also said she had left the home Nelson and Harmon shared on Chestnut Street when she saw Harmon with a gun, but that Nelson told her on the phone later that Harmon had thrown her through a window.

Investigators responded to the home, where the living room window was broken. They found the body of a woman in the bathtub, and garbage and other household items scattered about the home.

The complaint says that, the next day, police learned that Billy Jo Harwick, who was the last person seen with Harmon, was missing. Investigators found and met with Harwick in Sun Prairie, which is near Madison, on June 11. She initially said she wasn’t feeling well, and was taken to the emergency room. She later told officers that she and Harmon had dated for the past three years, up until the past three months. Harwick said that Harmon had told her he needed a ride to La Crosse, but that he took Nelson’s car when Harwick came to pick him up. Harwick followed Harmon, who pulled the car onto a road off of County Road A, then told her there was a change of plans, and that he needed to stay with friends in Milwaukee. She drove him there, and when she received a phone message from her mother saying she needed to talk to Harwick, she says Harmon wouldn’t let her make the call, saying “It is probably all over town already.” She says he then took her phone away.

Milwaukee police caught Harmon on June 20. The complaint says he told investigators that he used to live with Nelson on Chestnut Street in Black River Falls, and that when he was asked “What happened?” he responded “You found her in my bathtub.” He told investigators that during their fight on June 8, Nelson had kicked, bit, stabbed him, and threw bottles at him. He said that they had been arguing about a friend of Nelson’s. He went on to say that he told Nelson she’d have to leave, and that she became more upset, broke a window, and used the glass to try to cut him. Harmon said Nelson grabbed a gun, and that during a struggle for the gun, it went off, and she fell to the ground. Harmon then told investigators that he was scared, and dragged Nelson to the bathtub. The complaint says Harmon said he had tried to cover up the “crime scene,” and that he was worried that police were coming.

A medical examiner told investigators that he didn’t believe Nelson had been shot at close range, so investigators don’t believe that she was killed during a struggle for the gun.

Harmon is scheduled to appear in court on August 2. If convicted, he could face life in prison. We have a crew on the way to Black River Falls, and we’ll have more on this breaking story tonight on WEAU 13 News at 5.
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- After more than a week of searching, officers have found and arrested a man suspected in a homicide out of Black River Falls.

The Black River Falls Police Chief tells us 36-year-old Michael Harmon was taken into custody yesterday
He is in the Milwaukee County Jail on probation and parole warrant.

Black River Falls Police say people in Milwaukee tipped off police there. That's what lead officers to arrest Michael Harmon.

Friday we spoke with Angela Nelson's family, who was the victim in the case. They told us over the phone that they're relieved Harmon is behind bars. They're hoping now they can get some answers and finally get closure.

“Thank God he got caught. My feelings go out to the family. I'm happy for the family he had been arrested,” said Terrance Duffy, who owns the building Nelson and Harmon lived in together.

Duffy says knowing Harmon is in custody is a relief.

“I think he was a very dangerous man,” added Duffy.

Police say Nelson died of single gunshot wound to her head.

“I can say by what I’ve seen in my house it was a very violent crime,” explained Duffy.

Friday Duffy let WEAU inside the residence where the murder occurred.

“Doors broken, jams on doors broken, bathroom door broken; two window panes busted through. I've never seen anything like that; not with the amount of force you see here,” said Duffy.

“We do have the results of autopsy that shows whether or not there was struggle. We want to hold off on providing any information on that until we're able to get all the information, before we speculate as to what may have occurred inside that residents,” said Investigator with the Black River Falls Police Department, John Christopherson.

Police say they had a chance to interview Harmon, and he provided a statement, but they won’t say what Harmon told them exactly.

“Based on that statement and other information that we're receiving from the public the investigation is continuing. We don't want to jump to any conclusions at this time,” said Christopherson.

“There is no way this beautiful, young woman deserved to be treated like that, and beaten like she was; no one deserves that. And hopefully with the grace of God he'll never see the light of day again,” added Duffy.

Harmon will be taken from Milwaukee to jail in Black River Falls early next week.
Police say they don't know whether Harmon will be charged next week or not.

Harmon will be taken from Milwaukee to jail in Black River Falls early next week.
Police say they don't know whether Harmon will be charged next week or not.

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – After more than a week of searching, officers arrested a man suspected in a homicide.

The Black River Falls Police Chief tells WEAU 13 News that Michael Harmon is in the Milwaukee County Jail after officers arrested him Thursday afternoon. Chief Dave Frederick says people in Milwaukee tipped of law enforcement there. That’s what led police to arrest Harmon.

He was arrested without incident. Police say he was very passive and cooperated with them. They say autopsy results for Angela Nelson, the victim in the case, show that she died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Officers interviewed Harmon last night. Harmon provided them with a statement, but police haven’t said what was in it.

“Based on that statement and other information that we're receiving from the public, the investigation is continuing,” said investigator John Christopherson. “We don't want to jump to any conclusions at this time, is to what occurred at the residence on Chestnut.”

Harmon will be taken from Milwaukee to jail in Black River Falls next week.
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - The man suspected of killing his girlfriend in Black River Falls has been arrested in Milwaukee.

Black River Falls Police Chief Dave Frederick tells WEAU 13 News that the Milwaukee Police Department tracked Michael Harmon down through one of Harmon's contacts in Milwaukee. Frederick says he received word of the arrest around 5:30 p.m Thursday, but doesn't know where Harmon was found.

Harmon is in the Milwaukee County Jail right now. A Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman says he is not eligible for release.

We have a reporter working on this story, and we'll bring you more information as it becomes available.
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wisc. (WEAU) - One week after Angela Nelson was found murdered in her Black River Falls home, her family spoke out, saying they still don't know what happened and are waiting for police to catch the person responsible.

Police say the only suspect in the case has not been located, and they still haven't said how Nelson died. On Monday, her family said those questions have kept them from moving forward.

“There's a million questions, there's a million scenarios. We don't have any answers. There's no answers,” Nelson’s sister Amber Rhodes said.

Rhodes said calls and an email told her something was wrong with her sister, last Sunday.

“Her best friend was supposed to be going to pick her up, and nobody had heard from her since, which was very unusual for my sister to call somebody and say come get me,” she said. “The end of the message said ‘I’m so sorry.’ So I called them and that's when they confirmed that it was in fact my sister.”

Neighbors and police said Nelson was found dead in her bathtub Sunday night. Her boyfriend, 36-year-old Michael Harmon left the area with his ex-girlfriend Billie Jo Harwick, who police said went along willingly. Officers said she was found safe and has been cooperative but hasn't answered all their questions.

“There's something more going on than what anybody's saying, and she's not in custody,” Rhodes said.

Angela's mom Jackie Puent and sister said they are planning a memorial service, but that closure won't come until someone's held responsible.

“The things he did to my sister are absolutely horrible,” Rhodes said.

“One way or the other, he's gonna pay for it. That was our family. She was loved. We cared,” Puent said.

“Angie lived her life her way, which was her greatest asset, but also her greatest downfall. She loved her tattoos, she loved her art, she loved her daughter Tierza and her music,” Puent said.
“(Angela’s) daughter is staying with me right now, and I don't have any answers for her daughter,” Rhodes said.

The crime tape around the home is gone, but with no signs of Harmon since he was spotted in Milwaukee last week, questions, pain and anger remains.

“As a family, we need to find (Harmon). And we need help doing that,” Puent said.

Police are asking anyone who knows Harmon’s whereabouts to contact local law enforcement, or Black River Falls Police at (715) 284-9155.


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