The Richland Center Police Department is continuing their investigation into an attempted first degree intentional homicide that occurred in the City.
Chief of Police Lucas Clements reports that in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 20, dispatch received a call from the Madison Police Department wishing to speak with an officer from the Richland Center Police Department. The officer learned that the Madison Police Department had been contacted by staff at Meriter Hospital, who had concerns that one of their patients had possibly been intentionally poisoned.
Preliminary investigation showed that the victim is a 68- year-old female resident of the City of Richland Center who had been transferred from The Richland Hospital to Meriter Hospital on the afternoon of Friday, September 18. The victim’s condition had gotten considerably worse throughout the morning of Saturday, September 19, at which time she was put on dialysis and had further blood work tested that ultimately showed high levels of Ethylene Glycol (antifreeze) in her system.
A safety plan was set up in conjunction with the Madison Police Department and Meriter Hospital Security staff to oversee the victim while the investigation continued.
According to Chief Clements, a suspect has been identified as, Nina V. Fields, 25, of Richland Center. This identification was the result of the amount of work in a short period of time that the detective and officers investigating this case put forth.
Fields was taken into custody by officers of the Richland Center Police Department at 10 p.m. on Friday, September 25, without incident and is currently being held in the Richland County Jail pending a bail hearing and initial appearance. Fields is tentatively charged with attempted first degree intentional homicide.
The victim has been identified by family members as Joan Wheeler, grandmother of Fields, according to a WKOW-TV/Channel 27 report. The victim remains hospitalized in Madison at Meriter Hospital in stable condition and continues to recover.
In their September 30, 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that Fields may be a suspect in a separate case in Baraboo, where – in June – police were called by Sauk Prairie Hospital staff with regards to a child hospitalized there. The report states that Baraboo police chief Mark Schauf said investigators are awaiting results of testing from the state crime lab.
Chief Clements adds the Police Department has been assisted in this ongoing investigation by the Richland County District Attorney’s Office, Madison Police Department, and Meriter Hospital.
Fields appeared in custody, with defense counsel Attorney Lisa McDougal, on Monday afternoon for a hearing in front of Richland County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Sharp to set bail. Richland County District Attorney Jennifer Harper appeared by phone.
Cash bail was set at $50,000 with a number of conditions, including no contact with the victim of the allegations.
Judge Sharp set the defendant’s initial appearance on October 5 at 10 a.m., by which time the State’s formal complaint is expected to be filed.