Nationwide bench warrant issued for Helmbrecht

Published: Oct. 13, 2023 at 1:43 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - A nationwide bench warrant is now issued to bring a man accused of killing his neighbor more than 7 years ago back to Eau Claire.

Eau Claire County Judge Sarah Harless issued a nationwide bench warrant for Shane Helmbrecht.

This means law enforcement throughout the country will be alerted, and if they come into contact with him, he will be arrested and brought back to Eau Claire.

“I was terrified and worried. I wouldn’t know where he was. I was worried about my family. If they were in danger, if he were to try to seek revenge or something like that,” said Maranda Ward.

Her mother, Jenn Ward, was the victim of the 2016 murder Helmbrecht is accused of. Maranda recounts the time she was notified Helmbrecht was reported missing over a week ago. Then not too long after, Helmbrecht was found in New Mexico and let go due to there being no legal grounds to hold and transport him back to Wisconsin.

“I would definitely wasn’t I wasn’t happy. I was like, why? Why, why? They let him go,” said Maranda.

Friday’s decision is giving her a little hope for justice.

Helmbrecht was deemed incompetent to stand trial for Jenn Ward’s death, and had been placed in low security facilities. Like the one in Tomah where he was seen before being reported missing.

“It just was infuriating that that that’s what happened. And now he’s been gone even longer because they couldn’t keep him at that point, because if they did, they could have he could have been here already,” said Maranda.

“I find that Mr. Helmbrecht is in violation of 2 court orders,” said Judge Harless as she issued the nationwide bench warrant for Helmbrecht.

One of those orders was failing to complete a competency test, the other is for not being present in the state.

Defense attorney Karleigh Miller, who was in for Michael Cohen, tried to argue before the ruling there was not enough to compel Helmbrecht to show up for court.

“I think that issuing a bench warrant at this time is an inappropriate mechanism to try to establish Mr. Helmbrecht’s appearance in court,” said Miller.

And now, Ward’s family waits to see if Helmbrecht turns up somewhere... again.

Investigators say Miranda, and her brother, were in the home and hid at the time Helmbrecht is accused of entering, shooting and killing their mother Jenn Ward.

Maranda says a day doesn’t go by where she and her brother don’t think about their mother.

EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - A nationwide bench warrant is issued for 51-year-old Shane Helmbrecht.

A court hearing was held Friday.

The warrant is issued because of two court order violations, failure to complete competency test, and for leaving the state.

Helmbrecht is accused of shooting and killing his neighbor, Jen Ward, in Eau Claire in 2016. He was found incompetent to stand trial and was ordered to live in a mental health facility.

A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2024.