Shane Helmbrecht found in Mexico

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 1:16 PM CST
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MEXICO (WEAU) -The man accused of killing an Eau Claire woman seven years ago was found in Mexico over the weekend. He was taken into custody after a nationwide warrant has been out for more than a month.

Shane Helmbrecht was found in Mexico. Eau Claire County Sheriff Dave Riewestahl confirmed Helmbrecht was detained over the weekend and is now being held in the Cook County jail in Chicago, awaiting extradition to Eau Claire.

The sheriff said federal agents picked up Helmbrecht in Mexico. No other details have been released on where or how he was found. Additionally, the sheriff does not know why he was taken to Chicago but believes it could be because that is the closest FBI field office to Eau Claire.

According to the Sheriff, Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office staff were notified about Helmbrecht on Saturday. They are working on extraditing him here.

There is a court hearing scheduled for Tuesday. At that time, Helmbrecht can either waive the extradition, in which the sheriff’s office could go get him, or he can fight extradition. That would mean staff with the district attorneys office would need to work with state legislators and individuals in Cook County to get involved.

Eric Huse with the Eau Claire County District Attorney’s Office says once extradited, Helmbrecht will be brought to the Eau Claire County Jail. He will be held there until there is a hearing. The judge will then decide where he will be kept.

In October, a nationwide bench warrant was issued for Helmbrecht to return to Wis.

In 2017, he was found incompetent to stand trial in the murder of Jenn Ward and was ordered to live in a mental health facility. In September of this year, Helmbrecht walked away from the group home. Jamie Kirchoff is the sister of Jenn Ward, the woman Helmbrecht is accused of killing. She said now that Helmbrecht is in custody, she hopes he will stand before a judge for the homicide.

“Our family’s hope is that we finally get to maybe go to trial and through Shane’s actions of him avoiding capture and being able to cross the border and hide himself in a way shows competency, shows his skills set in his brain function isn’t capacitated,” Kirchoff said.

According to the Cook County inmate roster shows Helmbrecht has a court appearance scheduled for Tuesday. There is no word yet on when he will be brought back to Eau Claire.