Just three weeks after solicitation of first-degree intentional homicide charges were filed against him, Robert VanNatta of Platteville was in court Monday for two new charges filed by the Grant County District Attorney’s office.
VanNatta, 45, faces one count of resisting or obstructing an officer with intent to mislead, and one count of conspiracy to resist or obstruct an officer with intent to mislead. A preliminary hearing on the charges is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m.
VanNatta’s sister, Sally L. VanNatta-Ladd, 52, Dodgeville, faces one count of resisting or obstructing an officer with intent to mislead. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27.
VanNatta and VanNatta-Ladd face six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of the resisting charges.
VanNatta already faces charges of party to solicitation of first-degree murder, plus 30 counts of sex with a child 16 years of age or older, 20 counts of exposing genitals to a child 20 counts of child enticement — expose sex organs, one count of exposing a child to harmful materials, three counts of felony bail jumping, and one count each of false imprisonment, kidnapping, and possessing explosives for unlawful purposes. He faces 679 years in prison if convicted of all the charges and sentenced to maximum sentences.
According to the new criminal complaint, Sheriff’s Detective Rick Place has been monitoring VanNatta’s telephone calls from the Grant County Jail. In reviewing those phone calls, Place listened to several phone calls between VanNatta and VanNatta-Ladd in which they talked about “babysitting.” Those phone calls were made on May 20, May 22, May 24, June 4, June 5, June 8, June 12 and June 13.
Place said he also listened to several phone calls in early May between VanNatta and VanNatta-Ladd where there was never a discussion about VanNatta-Ladd’s grandchildren or a babysitter.
According to the criminal complaint, in a June 15 phone call, VanNatta allegedly called and spoke to a female, asking her if the babysitter was there. The woman said he was out and asked if she could take a message. VanNatta said, “Tell the babysitter that um, Bob kind of needs to talk to him.” The woman said she would tell him that he called. VanNatta said,
“Um, tell him I’ve got to have that job finished. Okay.”
The telephone number used by VanNatta was determined to have been used at the Grant County Jail by a former inmate who was released from jail on May 31.
Prior to the inmate’s being released, the inmate called an unidentified female May 17 using VanNatta’s phone card. The former inmate told her she would be receiving a call and telling her they want to talk to the babysitter and talk about meeting up with her to drop off an envelope. The female was supposed to hold onto the envelope until she gets a letter from Heisz explaining what to do with it.
On July 26, two sheriff’s department detectives interviewed the former inmate in Muscoda. The ex-inmate admitted to being asked to commit a crime and said he received some money, which was used to bail him out of jail. The inmate also said he had an agreement with someone whose name he couldn’t remember in the jail because of something to do with his children. The inmate described the man as being a “short, grubby dude,” and he later identified him as Bob VanNatta.
Twenty minutes after the interview ended, the ex-inmate admitted to detectives he wasn’t being completely honest and now wanted to cooperate fully with the investigation. During the second interview, the ex-inmate said VanNatta had asked him to help him commit a crime.
According to the criminal complaint, the ex-inmate said VanNatta asked him if he knew anyone who could kill his wife.
The ex-inmate said VanNatta offered him money to drop some drugs in VanNatta’s wife’s car, and admitted he took VanNatta’s money and ran. The ex-inmate said he used the money to bail himself out of jail instead of buying drugs and putting them in VanNatta’s wife’s car.
According to the criminal complaint, VanNatta described the vehicle his wife drives and where his children go to daycare. The ex-inmate said the woman he lives with told him they had received $2,600, but he only saw $2,100, and the money was indeed used to bail him out of jail and pay bills. The inmate said VanNatta wanted the job done by June 8, and he wasn’t planning on doing it anyway as he just wanted the money to get bonded out.
According to the criminal complaint, the ex-inmate said he didn’t want any names mentioned so he told VanNatta and anyone else to refer to him as the “babysitter.” The ex-inmate said VanNatta wanted drugs placed in his wife’s car that would put her away for a long time. The ex-inmate said as far as he knew VanNatta had VanNatta-Ladd deliver the money to the woman he lives with. The ex-inmate said he never called anyone to follow through with VanNatta’s request to have his wife killed.
The detectives then interviewed the ex-inmate’s live-in girlfriend July 26. She told detectives she received a phone call from someone who asked for the “babysitter,” the ex-inmate.
The detectives were unable to find any telephone calls or recordings from VanNatta to anyone talking about the ex-inmate’s working for him. On June 9, according to the criminal complaint, VanNatta had a discussion twice that day with VanNatta-Ladd and asked about the news. On June 12, VanNatta asked VanNatta-Ladd again about the news, and she said she called but she didn’t get through and she kept getting the answering machine. VanNatta asked, “for the babysitter?” VanNatta-Ladd said, “yes.”
Detectives then interviewed VanNatta-Ladd, who admitted to having conversations with VanNatta regarding a babysitter, involving her two grandchildren. VanNatta-Ladd said she borrowed money from VanNatta to pay the babysitter but she didn’t give someone $2,600. VanNatta-Ladd denied making phone calls to the ex-inmate or the woman he lives with, and she denied having anything to do with killing VanNatta’s wife or planting drugs in her vehicle.
VanNatta-Ladd was arrested following the interview.
VanNatta remains jailed on charges of sex with a child age 16 years or older, false imprisonment, kidnapping, possess explosives for unlawful purpose and three counts of felony bail jumping.