TOWN OF LEWISTON (WKOW) —Three suspects are in custody Thursday after a kidnapped man was found dead in rural Columbia County, according to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
The three suspects are Jesse Freiberg, 28, of Madison; Jakenya Patty, 21, of Madison; and Laura Johnson, 38, of Madison. Freiberg is charged with 1st degree intentional homicide, while Patty and Johnson are charged with party to a crime 1st degree intentional homicide.
The investigation spans two counties, as Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said the kidnapping happened on the 300 block of N. Brooks St., and the Columbia County Sheriff's Office said the homicide happened on Klappstein Road near State Highway 16 in the Town of Lewiston.
Barnes said a man was assaulted, bound and kidnapped in his own car Tuesday morning. However, he said law enforcement didn't learn about the crime until Wednesday morning when MPD officers responded to a domestic disturbance near the intersection of Williamson St. and S. Few St. around 6:30 a.m.
He said an officer saw a woman, now identified as Patty, who looked like she was trying to run over a man, now identified as Freiberg, with a car.
She wasn't successful, and Barnes said she ran over a curb before hitting a home on the 400 block of S. Ingersoll St.
"As it unfolded, we started receiving bits and pieces of information about what could be a crime and this person's vehicle, and so we were able to kind of put two and two together on the scene," Barnes said.
Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner said MPD contacted his office Wednesday about a potential homicide in rural Portage.
Detectives from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Portage Police Department and Madison Police Department began to investigate, and searched several areas in Portage and Lewiston.
Wednesday evening, investigators found a dead man who matched the kidnapped man's description. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Columbia County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Brandner said investigators believe the suspects took the man out of his car and shot him on the side of the road.
They then drove his car back to Madison and threw the victim's personal property out of the car.
During a press conference Thursday, Barnes noted Columbia County Sheriff's deputies conducted their investigation even as severe weather was heading toward them.
"It's not an easy task, given your own personal safety," he said. "At one point, I was informed they were thinking 'What would we do if a tornado started right now? … But they stayed in there and processed that information, which will help bring closure, hopefully, to someone's family."
After officers detained Patty and Freiberg Wednesday, they found a handgun in the car.
Freiberg, Patty and Johnson are being held at the Dane County Jail.
Brandner said this was a targeted incident and there is no danger to the community.
The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of family and completion of the autopsy.
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