Sunday, October 2, 2022
Sunday, October 2, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

FREED: Ryan Brucker Shot Dad From Behind With Hunting Rifle in Three Lakes | Tony Evers’ Killers & Rapists #10

Since 2019, Gov. Tony Evers’ Parole Commission has released hundreds of convicted criminals, freeing them early on parole mostly into Wisconsin communities, including more than 270 murderers and attempted murderers, and more than 44 child rapists.

Ryan Brucker was one of them.

10th in the series.

Ryan Brucker’s father, Henry Brucker Jr., a diesel electrician for the railroad, didn’t want to drive him to Rhinelander, so Ryan could visit his girlfriend.

The 18-year-old, armed with a loaded high-powered hunting rifle, waited for his dad to return to the Three Lakes home where they lived. When his dad returned home and sat down to watch television, Ryan sneaked up behind his dad with a bolt-action rifle and shot him in the back. Then he went to another room, reloaded, came back and shot him again, according to newspaper articles from the time.

“I told myself to get rid of this guy. I told myself I had to,” he said, according to the newspaper.

Brucker went to work at a Chinese restaurant. Judge Robert Kinney called the murder “needless and brutal,” according to a 1989 article in the Wausau Daily Herald.

Evers’ Parole Commission Freed Ryan Brucker Early

Ryan brucker
Ryan brucker

Date paroled: 1/28/2020 [You can check the killer’s parole in this Corrections database yourself by putting his name in and clicking “movement”]

The released killer now lives: Marietta, Georgia

Age: 51

Convicted: First-degree intentional homicide, 1989

Sentence: Life sentence

Ryan brucker Ryan brucker Ryan brucker Ryan brucker

Ryan brucker

Today Brucker works as a welder/machinist.

Ryan brucker
Ryan brucker

The Victim: Henry Brucker Jr., 45

Henry brucker jr
Henry brucker jr
Henry brucker jr
Henry brucker jr and family

The victim’s obituary says:

“Henry James Brucker, Jr. was born in Hammond, Indiana. He was primarily raised in Hammond, along with his younger brother Dennis, with the exception of a very brief period when the family lived in Three Lakes. He was an honors 1962 graduate of Hammond High School and attended Purdue University (Calumet campus) for two years. In 1964 he transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington.

Henry married Nancy Lee Feasel on March 26th, 1966. They adopted two children – Ryan Todd (in 1971) and Kristen Kathleen (in 1975). The couple lived in Indiana from 1966 to 1978, when they relocated to Portage County, Wisconsin. Henry received his B.S. in biology from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and was a member of the Senior Honor Society.

He primarily worked in the rail industry during his life as a diesel electrician, working for the Indiana Harbor Belt RR in Indiana and the Soo Line RR in Wisconsin. He held an electrician’s card and a realtor’s license. He also had two years of training in electrical engineering and completed certification in HVAC. He was president of the IBEW local associated with the Indiana Harbor Belt RR at Gibson, Indiana, in 1975.

Henry moved to Three Lakes in the summer of 1986, followed by Nancy and the children. The couple divorced in 1988. Henry worked at the Black Forest prior to his death in 1989. He enjoyed fishing and hunting immensely. He had loved the lakes and forests of the north country since childhood.”

What the Killer Did:

Ryan Brucker was 18 when he murdered his father in 1989. According to a 1990 article in the Wausau Daily Herald, Brucker lived with his dad.

According to the Daily Herald, Brucker was affected by his parent’s divorce, a separation from his mother, and a “distant and emotionally unsatisfying relationship with his father.”


One day, his father, 45, refused to give him a ride to Rhinelander, where he wanted to go to visit a girlfriend.

The father was sitting on a sofa watching television when Brucker shot him in the back, according to the newspaper, and then went to his room, reloaded the bolt action rifle, and then “returned and shot his father again in the back as he lay bleeding on the floor.”

He covered his father’s body with a blanket, dragged him to a bedroom, and left the body there. Ryan Brucker went to his job at a Chinese restaurant. His grandfather later discovered Brucker’s body.

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Badger Institute: Milwaukee Driving Crime Spike, Criminal Justice System Failing

(The Center Square) – A new deep dive into Wisconsin crime statistics shows a growing problem with crime in Milwaukee as well as a failing criminal justice system in the rest of the state.

The Badger Institute released four new reports on Tuesday, each looking at a different facet of the criminal justice system.

The headline-grabbing news is what the Badger Institute's Mike Nichols calls a Tale of Two States.

“Milwaukee has 10% of the state’s population, but it has an enormous share of the state’s crime,” Nichols said. “In 2021, Milwaukee had 60% of homicides, 53% of aggravated assaults, 68% of auto thefts. It’s so hard to talk about statewide crime without talking about Milwaukee."

Nichols said the numbers on car thefts paint the picture of how Milwaukee crime is spilling out.

“There are a crazy amount of car thefts in Milwaukee. Thefts are up 255% compared to just 46% in the rest of Wisconsin,” Nichols explained. “But look in [nearby] Wauwatosa in the last couple of years, car thefts are up 436% from 2019 to 2021.”

The Badger reports also highlight problems with keeping police officers in Milwaukee. Researchers say they found “not only has [Milwaukee] reduced the number of authorized police positions, there are fewer officers to fill them,” and “the Milwaukee Police Department is also facing a damaging loss of institutional knowledge and practical skills, which could worsen policing just when Milwaukee needs its force to perform at its peak.”

The reports also question what Wisconsin will do with its prison population, which currently tops 20,000 people. Many of these prisoners will be released eventually.

“Wisconsin policymakers should expand electronic monitoring in specific instances, adopt supervision lengths in line with those in other states and require better statewide data tracking and reporting,” the report notes.

Nichols said one of the most jarring findings was the amount of time it now takes to bring criminals to justice.

“It now takes more than a year for a court to resolve an armed robbery charge, 14 months to resolve a sexual assault case and more than 15 months to resolve an allegation that someone committed a murder,” Nichols added. “It takes 85% longer to dispose of a felony case, and more than 100% longer for a misdemeanor case.”

Nichols said that is twice as long to deal with a case today compared to 20 years ago.

“God help the people who are victims,” Nichols added.

He hopes Wisconsin lawmakers and policy makers read the report, and start thinking of some solutions.

You can read all four pieces of the Badger Institute’s report here, here, here, and here.

IRG Wisconsin Drop Its Income Tax

Wisconsin Agencies Want $7.5 Billion More In Next State Budget

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin lawmakers won’t begin writing the next state budget until next year, but they are already being flooded with requests for billions of dollars more in state money.

The Institute for Reforming Government is out with a new analysis that says Gov. Tony Evers' state agencies want $7.5 billion in new dollars for the 2023-2025 state budget.

“While most of Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s families are sitting around the kitchen table trying to put together their budgets with the same amount of money coming in the door, even while prices are rising, the folks in Madison don’t seem bothered by inflation at all. In fact, they’re willing to take more money,” IRG’s Director of State Budget and Government Reform Alex Ignatowski told The Center Square Tuesday.

IRG found the largest budget increase comes from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, which is asking for $2.5 billion in new funding.

“They are trying to say that this money is going to trickle down to local schools,” Ignatowski said. “But you and I both know this might be a pass through, but it’s not a 100% pass through. And DPI is not the most efficient at getting dollars into the classroom itself.”

DPI is not the only state agency asking for billions of dollars more.

IRG’s analysis says the state’s Department of Health Services is asking for $3.7 billion more.

The UW System is asking state lawmakers for nearly a half-billion dollars more in the next state budget.

Ignatowski said the request comes as most Wisconsin campuses are seeing fewer students.

“The landscape for post secondary education is changing. The market is starting to dictate what needs to be done in other post secondary settings, but the UW System is a little bit behind,” Ignatowski added.

There are other requests, including a $20 million ask from the Department of Safety and Professional Services which has come under fire for a months-long backlog for people needing a state license, and a $58 million request from the Department of Workforce Development, which struggled during the coronavirus pandemic to get people their unemployment benefits.

Almost none of the state agencies will get everything they are asking for. Republican lawmakers will write the next state budget, and have denied the same kind of massive spending increases in the past. But Ignatowski said that the agencies are asking is the headline.

“This just shows a huge disconnect between state agencies in Madison, that they are in a different world and a different bubble than your average Wisconsin family,” Ignatowski said.

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(The Center Square) – After spending millions of dollars on campaign ads to paint Tim Michels as radical on abortion, Gov. Tony Evers is calling Michels dishonest for being open to exemptions to Wisconsin’s strict abortion law.

Michels on Friday told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Dan O’Donnell that he would sign a law allowing women who are the victims of rape or incest to get an abortion in the state.

“I am pro-life and make no apologies for that. But I also understand that this is a representative democracy. And if the people, in this case, the legislature, brought a bill before me, as you just stated, I would sign that,” Michels said.

Wisconsin’s current abortion law only allows for exemptions to save a mother’s life.

Evers had made abortion the centerpiece of his re-electon bid. He is running several ads that say Michels would not support exemptions for rape and incest.

On Friday, the governor all but called Michels a liar.

“Tim Michels is trying to save his flailing campaign with a dishonest attempt to hide his stance on abortion, even after making it clear just two weeks ago that he’s ‘not gonna soften’ his stance,” Evers said in a statement.

Michels told a Republican crowd earlier this month that he planned to stick to his pro-life stance because “I'm principled. And my wife and I, we know we have to answer to somebody higher than anybody on the face of the earth.”

Evers doubled-down on his campaign ads that say Michels is a pro-life radical.

“Michels has staked out the most extreme position possible on this issue, and as governor, wouldn’t hesitate to enact radical legislation that would put women’s lives at risk,” the governor added in his statement. “He’ll say or do anything to win an election, and he can’t be trusted to protect reproductive freedom.”

It’s unclear if the Wisconsin legislature would even consider introducing an exemption law.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu last week said attitudes about abortion among the Republicans who control the legislature remains the same.

"Wisconsin law has not changed and our pro-life position has not changed," LeMahieu said.

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Poll: Voters Support Funding Police, Dealing With Violent Crime

Voters largely support policies allowing police to detain suspects charged with violent crimes, a new poll shows. That's in contrast to recent policies being enacted in Illinois.

Convention of States Action, along with Trafalgar Group, released the poll, which found that the vast majority of surveyed Americans do not support policies that keep law enforcement from detaining those accused of violent crimes.

The poll found that 95.6% of those surveyed “say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports policies which prevent police from detaining criminals charged with violent crimes, such as kidnapping and armed robbery.”

“Crime is the beneath-the-iceberg issue for voters in 2022, it’s absolutely clear in these numbers,” said Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States. “Americans of all political backgrounds have a strong belief in protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty.”

Notably, 96.7% of Independent voters agree.

This comes as controversial city policies on police have gained nationwide attention. The newly passed SAFE-T Act in Illinois all but abolishes cash bail. Critics say this means that some charged with serious crimes like second-degree murder or kidnapping will be freed without a hearing.

Supporters of the law, set to take effect at the beginning of next year, point out it does not prohibit detention and that anyone deemed a flight risk can be detained. But critics of the law say proving a flight risk can be a difficult legal burden that won’t always happen, meaning violent criminals will quickly be back on the streets.

Pursuing suspected criminals has also become a controversial issue. In Chicago, police are restricted from pursuits for certain traffic violations.

A new law in Washington limits police officers from pursuing fleeing suspects. Suspected crimes have to meet a certain threshold, and word has spread quickly with suspects now fleeing police with no consequences.

The poll was carried out from Sept. 17-20 querying more than 1,000 likely midterm voters.