DARLINGTON — The man accused of killing three people in the Town of Wayne April 28 will make his first in-person appearance in Lafayette County Circuit Court Friday afternoon.
Jaren M. Kuester, 31, Waukesha, has been in the Lafayette County Jail since his arrest in Waukesha the afternoon after the bodies of Gary Thoreson, 70, Chloe Thoreson, 66, and Dean Thoreson, 76, were found in Gary and Chloe Thoreson’s home.
Kate Findley, Lafayette County district attorney, filed a criminal complaint and summons on Tuesday, May 7 in which Kuester was formally charged with three counts of first degree intentional homicide, burglary and operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent, according to a press release from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.
If convicted Kuester will face life sentences on the homicide charges (Class A felonies); a $25,000 fine and/or up to 12 years and 6 months imprisonment for the burglary charge (Class F felony) and a fine of $10,000 and/or not more than six years imprisonment for the motor vehicle charge (Class H felony).
A judicial probable cause determination for Kuester was signed by Lafayette County Circuit Judge William Johnston April 30. The probable-cause determination allowed Kuester to remain in jail before formal charges were filed.
According to the news release, Johnston ordered the probable cause statement sealed for at least the next 60 days, with a potential of extension. Search warrants issued during the investigation have also been sealed “in order to effectively investigate and prosecute criminal cases.”
According to the criminal complaint Kuester was bailed out of jail by his employer on April 26 and walked to the residence of his father, James Kuester. Kuester’s father then gave him a ride to pick up his vehicle and stated that the next time he saw his son was at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 28 when Kuester appeared at his father’s residence in a confused state and said that he had hurt three people. Shortly thereafter, Kuester was arrested by Waukesha police.
According to the criminal complaint, Kuester participated in an interview on April 29, during which he stated the following:
-After being bailed out of jail he got in his vehicle and just started driving, later abandoning his vehicle and taking off his clothing as he believed he was being followed. Kuester then began running through the woods.
-Around sunset, he arrived at a home and entered a barn on the property and later decided to break into the house as he was cold and did not believe anyone was home.
-He broke a window and entered the house, found clothes and food and searched the house for valuables then slept on the floor of a bedroom.
-Later Kuester heard a man enter the house and walk up the stairs. When the man reached the top Kuester hit him with a fireplace poker and killed him. Kuester stated that he did not want the man to leave and get help. He later covered the man with a blanket and drove the man’s truck into the garage and closed the door.
-Later Kuester heard a man and a woman enter the house and begin walking up the stairs. Kuester then stated that he killed both of them with a fireplace poker and then stabbed the woman. The man hit Kuester before he was killed. Kuester again stated that he could not let them leave to get help.
-Kuester stated that he removed money from the man’s wallet, which he had obtained from one of the man’s pants pockets. He then drove their vehicle into the garage and closed the door.
-Kuester stated he later decided he had to leave and started to grab everything he needed such as money, blankets, clothes and a metal bar for a weapon. Kuester decided to take the F150 pickup truck and start driving, ending up at his father’s house.
According to the criminal complaint, findings during the autopsies of the victims’ bodies reported the causes of death to be multiple blunt force injuries to the neck and head for Dean and Gary Thoreson. The causes of death for Chloe Thoreson were multiple blunt force trauma to the head and multiple stab wounds.
Bail of $3 million cash was set for Kuester on Thursday, May 2. Lafayette County District Attorney Kate Findley requested the amount of $3 million, while defense attorney Guy Taylor presented an argument to the court requesting a lesser amount of $300,000. Kuester appeared in court via a videoconferencing link from the Lafayette County Jail, according to a news release.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported Monday that James and Kathleen Kuester, Jaren’s parents, had been trying to have their son admitted to a mental hospital days before the homicides, saying their son was delusional and potentially dangerous.
According to the criminal complaint, Kuester’s father told law officials that Kuester was being treated for mental health issues and taking various medications.
Waukesha County mental health professionals disagreed with Kuester’s parents, and did not detain him, the State Journal reported.
Peter Schuler, director of Waukesha County Health and Human Services, told the State Journal that “We felt we responded in the ways we could.”
Schuler said after an April 25 assessment of Kuester from Robert Walker, one of Waukesha County mental health system’s crisis managers, Kuester didn’t meet any of the criteria defined by state law that would have allowed the county to detain him against his wishes, reported the Journal.
Kuester’s first court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, May 10.