TOWN OF WAYNE — Three people were found dead in a home Sunday morning by a relative of theirs, and a Waukesha man is in custody as a “person of interest” in connection with their deaths.
The bodies of Gary, 70, and Chloe Thoreson, 66, and Gary’s brother Dean, 76, were found in a house at 9092 Philippine Road Sunday around 9:53 a.m., according to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.
The relative found one of the bodies, and sheriff’s deputies found the other two, according to the sheriff’s department.
Later on Sunday, Jaren M. Kuester, 31, Waukesha, was arrested at a Waukesha apartment building by Waukesha Police. Kuester is in the Lafayette County Jail pending charges.
According to Lafayette County sheriff, Scott Pedley, a court appearance by Kuester may not occur until next week. “There is a huge volume of information which is being compiled and, once compiled, will then be forwarded to the District Attorney for review and charging decisions,” said Pedley.
According to Pedley, the victims and the person of interest didn’t know each other. He declined to speculate on theories of motive for the crime.
The Thoresons, all of rural South Wayne, were three very active and regular longtime members of the Wiota Lutheran Church, according to the church’s pastor, Rev. Luke Smetters who has been providing counsel to the victims’ family since Sunday.
A prayer vigil will be held at Wiota Lutheran Church on Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. The entire community of faith is welcome to attend.
“The community faith as well as the overall community is in shock, but they will band together as they always do in times of need,” said Smetters.
In a statement from the family, Gary and Chloe’s two children Bryan Thoreson and Krista Kreil described their parents and uncle: “Gary, Chloe, and Dean were all very loving people. They were proud parents and grandparents and extremely active in the community. The three of them could regularly be found cheering on the Badgers or enjoying a lutefisk supper.”
According to the statement, Gary had served as president of the Black Hawk School Board in South Wayne during his lifetime. He was first a farmer, but acquired a hobby as well as employment as a computer programmer. He was also known to do woodworking projects around the house.
Chloe, Gary’s wife, worked at Monroe Clinic for more than 20 years. She was a faithful and nurturing wife who loved to paint, sew, and dance. She was described in the statement as being overall, quite a classy lady who loved adventures with her husband in the outdoors.
Dean was a farmer through and through. During his lifetime he served on the Lafayette County Board and was chairman of the building committee when Wiota Lutheran Church was built, said the statement. Dean is survived by his wife Rose.
The Thoreson family explained that they are finding it difficult to find words to express everything that is going through their minds. They have stated that this situation is unbelievable and surreal. They feel shocked, devastated, and raw as well as being filled with utter sadness.
The identities of the victims were delayed in being released until Monday, April 29 due to “the very extensive amount of crime scene evidence that needed to be collected by crime laboratory personnel,” said a news release from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.
On Monday, crime lab staff members returned to the scene in order to continue collecting evidence. Autopsies of the bodies were being conducted in Madison, said the press release.
After the bodies were discovered on Sunday, authorities sought a then-unknown suspect in connection with the case considered to be very dangerous, along with a blue 1998 Ford F150 pickup truck with a license plate of 220489F that was registered to one of the victims.
Authorities thought it likely that the suspect had traveled in the truck to the southeastern area of the state, due to information obtained during the investigation, said the news release.
On Sunday afternoon, Waukesha Police discovered the truck in a parking lot adjacent to Willow Park apartment complex in Waukesha. Shortly thereafter, Kuester was located inside the apartment building.
Currently Kuester is being detained in the Lafayette County Jail after being transported from Waukesha by Wauksha Police and Lafayette County deputies, according to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.
Kuester had been reported as missing by the Green County Sheriff’s Department on Sunday after his vehicle was reported as abandoned in a field on County Highway M in the town of Cadiz at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
According to Green County sheriff Jeff Skatrud, the landowner in the area who made the report had seen the vehicle traveling down a driveway in that direction on Friday around 6 p.m.
Sheriff Skatrud, who explained that the Green County Sheriff’s Office had been in contact with Waukesha after discovering the vehicle, said it was not known why Kuester was in the area.
K9 units tracked Kuester’s path of travel to the area of Ridge Rd. and Smock Valley Rd., a location approximately 1.5 miles from his vehicle, but at that point the K9 units lost the scent. From there officials were unsure in what direction Kuester had travelled, according to Sheriff Skatrud.
Along Kuester’s path of travel, items of discarded clothing were discovered, but the man himself was not located. The Green County Sheriff’s Department believed Kuester to be partially naked and in a possibly “altered mental state” at that point, said the press release.
At this time it is unclear how Kuester traveled from the Ridge Rd./Smock Valley Rd. area to the Thoreson residence, which by roads is an approximate distance of seven miles.
According to state records, Kuester was found guilty of misdemeanor battery in 2001, and battery, disorderly conduct, and carrying a concealed weapon in 2002. Kuester was also charged with disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property and bail jumping between 2001 and 2007, but these charges were dismissed. Kuester has also been charged with several minor traffic violations and been brought to court for several small claims cases.
The investigation of these homicides is being continued by Lafayette County detectives, Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation agents, State of Wisconsin crime lab agents and the Lafayette County Coroner’s Office, said a press release from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.