WKEB Local News

Unity man convicted in double homicide case sentenced to life without parole

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Court records show the 27-year-old Unity man convicted of killing two people last January is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Friday afternoon in Marathon County Circuit Court.

Tyler Zimmerman agreed to the terms of a plea deal in December. In exchange for the guilty plea, four other counts were dismissed.

The Colby-Abbotsford Police Chief said Cierra Hardrath, 21 and Duane [Hostetler] Lopez Jr., 25, were killed and one person, Megan Dupee, 18 was injured following the shooting Jan. 20, 2018. It happened on the 400 block of East Maple Street in Abbotsford.

Police say they got a call from Dupee about the shooting minutes after 3 a.m. When officers responded, they found the two people dead.

Chief Jason Bauer said the sole suspect, Zimmerman, was found near the crime scene and was taken into custody. Bauer said Zimmerman was Hardrath's live-in boyfriend.

Zimmerman told police he believed Hardrath was cheating on him. According to court documents, Zimmerman said Hardrath told him she was going to watch a movie at a friend's house and she left their home in Owen around 8 p.m.

Zimmerman told police he did not believe her, so he checked her Facebook Messenger and found she was having conversations with other men. He explained he tracked Hardrath's phone using the "Find My Phone" app on her tablet, then drove to the home on the 400 block of East Maple Street in Abbotsford.

According to police, the home belongs to Hardrath's ex-boyfriend, Parker Knautz. Knautz told police Hardrath had come to visit him and his two children. He said she eventually went to sleep in his bed, but he went to his children's room, as they were calling for him, and ultimately fell asleep there.

Once Zimmerman got to the home, Lopez Jr., [Hostetler] a tenant at the home, answered the door. Zimmerman asked for Hardrath, but Lopez Jr. said he did not know her. Eventually he let him in and led him to the bedroom where she was sleeping.

Zimmerman said he talked with Hardrath and referenced cheating, then shot her. Panicked, he said he turned around and shot the person standing in the doorway, Lopez Jr. On his way out, he shot Lopez Jr.'s fiance, Megan Dupee, 18.

Investigators said Zimmerman said he drove to his work to try to tell his boss everything. He left a voicemail on his phone saying he was sorry and he messed up. Zimmerman then wrote a Facebook post saying, "Farewell everyone, I'm sorry for all that I have hurt from this..." During this time, Dupee called 911 and police arrested Zimmerman shortly after near the home.

Police spoke with Zimmerman's boss who told them Zimmerman purchased a handgun a few months ago when Zimmerman and Hardrath seemed to be having issues. He prefaced he did not believe the purchase was unusual at the time.

Investigators asked Zimmerman if he knew he was going to shoot Hardrath when he got to the home. Zimmerman respond, "kind of, in a way."

Zimmerman faces a mandatory life sentence. Only his parole eligibility will be discussed at his sentencing hearing.

Update on missing man that was last seen on February 24th in the Village of Gilman.

          Update on missing man that was last seen on February 24th in the Village of Gilman.


 On February 24,2019 at 1:36 p.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received a report that 21 year old John R. Shest had walked away from the Phoenix House located in the Village of Gilman, in western Taylor County.  Shest was last seen leaving the Corner Store in Gilman on foot in a westerly direction after purchasing alcohol. Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Gilman Police Chief searched for Shest but were unable to locate him. The Sheriff’s Office continued efforts to locate Shest but no new information became available.


  On March 14th Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies  in a continued effort to locate Shest again searched the area and with the snow cover diminishing located Shest deceased at 3:14 p.m.


  Shest was found partially buried in snow south of the village of Gilman. Based on his location it is believed Shest had walked down the rail road tracks leading out of the village in an attempt to be undetected. The incident remains under investigation but no foul play is suspected.

Blizzard Hampers Medford Firefighters

Blizzard Hampers Medford Firefighters  2/25/19


  The blizzard force winds and waist high drifting snow may have contributed to a home burning down on Sunday.  The Medford fire department was called to the report of a chimney fire at 7:30 Sunday morning.  Firefighters responded to the Brian Dombrowski home at N5392 Norway Drive northwest of Medford in the town of Chelsea.  Due to the driveway being drifted in, the lead pumper truck was not able to get near to the home.  A large water hose was unrolled up the driveway and several attack hoses were split off of the larger hose.  The fire had started in a Class A chimney but the fierce force of the wind ignited other portions of the Brian Dombrowski home.  Focus was then shifted to saving nearby structures.  The home was a total loss.  Everyone was able to get out of the home.  In the deep snow and icy conditions, one firefighter reported a strained ankle.  The Stetsonville fire department provided mutual aid.  Medford firefighters left the scene at 1:30 Sunday afternoon.  About 4 ½ hours later the Medford fire department was called to a home on Richard Street to the report of a possible gas leak.  WE energies was called to the scene, no damage was reported.    

Wisconsin native soars with Thunderbirds for first time at Super Bowl on Sunday

Wisconsin native soars with Thunderbirds for first time at Super Bowl on Sunday
Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 5:13 p.m. CT Feb. 3, 2019 | Updated 6:29 p.m. CT Feb. 3, 2019


  Michelle Curran didn't become interested in flying until college, but she certainly was not afraid of heights growing up in Wisconsin.

  "She climbed a tree taller than our house when she was 2," said her father, Bill Curran.

  On Sunday, Curran didn't fly really high, but she flew in close formation at 400 mph with five other Thunderbirds, the prestigious Air Force flight demonstration team, at the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

  The 31-year-old Medford native is the first female demonstration pilot for the Thunderbirds since 2014. The Super Bowl was the first public appearance for the current team, which is also performing a flyover at the Daytona 500 in two weeks before the show schedule kicks off next month.

 Curran, whose call sign is "Mace," flies Thunderbird No. 6, also known as the opposing solo pilot. She demonstrates the capabilities of the F-16 during performances. Her favorite maneuver is the vertical roll — pointing the plane up or down while rolling over.

In an interview posted on the Thunderbirds' website, Curran was asked what it was like to climb into the distinctive red, white and blue Thunderbird jet for the first time.

  "I was definitely nervous and excited, but there was so much to learn that is specific to the Thunderbirds that those feelings were overshadowed by the focus needed to keep up with the jet," said Curran.

  "There was still definitely a surreal moment, while holding short of the runway, where I was in a bit of disbelief that I had actually been selected and was about to take off for my first flight."

  Capt. Michelle Curran is the Opposing Solo Pilot for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, flying the No. 6 jet.  
  She is the fifth female pilot and only the second female solo pilot in the 65-year history of the Thunderbirds.

  The 2005 Medford High School graduate attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, on an ROTC scholarship. She earned a degree in criminal justice in 2009 because she considered becoming a crime scene investigator but also thought it would be cool to become a pilot.

  About halfway through her time in ROTC, she was inspired to get her pilot's wings because she wanted to be part of something with a bigger purpose, she said in the website interview, and also because she's a thrill seeker who likes challenges.

  At the end of her undergraduate pilot training, she was one of just two in her class of 25 chosen for fighter jets. Curran was assigned to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and spent three years stationed in Japan flying throughout the Pacific. She served a two-month deployment in the skies over Afghanistan in 2016, flying 125 hours in combat and was serving in the 355th Fighter Squadron in Fort Worth, Texas, when she was chosen for one of the coveted spots in the Thunderbirds, who train at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

  Bill Curran said his daughter was encouraged to apply for the Thunderbirds by friends in the Air Force. After going through extensive interviews and testing, she called her parents last summer and excitedly said "you're talking to the newest Thunderbird!"

"We're just bursting with excitement," said Bill Curran.

  The Super Bowl was the first time Curran's parents had seen their daughter performing with the Thunderbirds. They plan to travel to Las Vegas, where she recently moved to be near Nellis Air Force Base, early next month to see the Thunderbirds perform a flyover at a NASCAR race. 

  They also plan, along with a lot of family, to see her when the Thunderbirds fly at the Milwaukee Air & Water Show July 27-28 and an air show in Mankato, Minnesota, in June.


2019-03 | 2019-02


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