By Laurel Walker
You've heard it said, surely, that in small towns there are no secrets.
So in rural
"A lot of people don't like the police," says Grant Turner, town police chief, "and if they can find out anything about us, they will."
In the case of Michael Austin, a town police officer for the
past 18 months and, before that, a
Turner himself, whose department has six full- and three
part-time police officers, adds to the intrigue. On the one hand, he ordered
On the other hand, he gave credit to Austin, saying, "He took a lot of drugs off the street out here, even in this community," drawing on his "special squad" experience investigating drug dealing and violent crimes in Milwaukee. "A lot of people do call and complain because he is a very aggressive officer and he made a lot of arrests and they weren't happy with him," Turner said.
"It's not like you're trying to hide,"
Oddly enough, though, he shared the name change but nothing
about the Wagner case with Turner before he was hired. Police Commission
Chairman Karl Miller said he knew nothing about either until I told him. Turner
became aware of the Wagner investigation only when another officer told him
about it shortly after
Stranger still - and troubling, too - is that no background check for a police hire produced such information. Miller, for one, considered it "kind of shocking, really," and added: "I sure would have asked him about it. It makes you wonder, you know?"
Regardless of what they knew then, town officials who know it now say it is irrelevant, given the results of the investigation.
Though the medical examiner and police, along with the
inquest jury, concluded Wagner's death was a suicide, Wagner's parents raise
questions of a cover-up on Web sites. One is titled "REAL COVERUP AND
CORRUPTION BY LAW ENFORCEMENT, REAL FAMILY FRUSTRATION AND HEARTBREAK” while
another identifies the Wagner case as "(suicide/homicide?)."
"For me, it was a traumatic incident," he said. "I still feel bad for (Wagner's parents), but at the same time this is dragging on 10 years, and certainly I didn't have anything to do with it."
For some critics who have crossed paths with
Nell Hein, who with her husband owns Lucky Luke's Bait,
Boats & Beer in Mukwonago, makes no bones about her dislike for
heads of the Lions Club and
Veterans of Foreign Wars, to a few customers - and if it helps chase
Leslie Knueppel of the Town of
and I'm a nobody with a kid who has
drug charges, I feel helpless," she said. When she learned "through
the grapevine" about
They might get their wish - in the Town of
"He had a problem with my sergeant," Turner said, adding that the sergeant was "very by-the-book. When the book is violated, I'm told about it."