Every Wednesday in November, Newschannel 7 is taking a closer look at some of the unsolved murders in North Central Wisconsin. We're hoping that a fresh look at some of these cold cases will lead viewers to bring new information that could bring closure to both the investigators and the victim's families. Tonight, we examine the 2008 Wood County death of Dale Meister.
March 4th, 2008, Dale Meister is found shot to death in his Wisconsin Rapids mobile home. Within a month, the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department narrows their search and begins to focus on one man.
"There's been nothing that's taken us away from this direction of the investigation, nothing that's even remotely tagged us in another direction", said Kurt Heuer, Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief.
Heuer, one of the lead investigators in the case, presented all of the evidence against the suspect to the Wood County District Attorney, confident he would be charged with murder.
Fast forward to today, that suspect is behind bars, doing time for unrelated crimes, but has yet to be charged with Dale Meister's murder.
We've decided not to name him, since he's never officially been charged with the crime. Investigators are perplexed, they believe they got their man, but perhaps no one's more frustrated than the Meister family.
They believe, along with police, that they know who the murderer is. They tell us in a written statement, they've all but given up hope he'll ever be charged, saying..."We, the family feel, this crime will become one of the many unsolved crimes in Wisconsin Rapids and that the criminal will never be prosecuted. Not a day goes by when we don't think of him. We love and miss dale".
Newschannel 7 asked Wood County District Attorney, John Henkelmann to comment on why the case has never been charged, but the D.A. refuses to talk about the case. We requested records that may give us a glimpse into finding an answer, but were denied because it is an ongoing investigation.
Police say they're baffled. They say, as far as they're concerned, it's case closed.
"It's highly, highly frustrating and emotional because we believe we know the individual that's responsible and to this point in time, with respect to our District Attorney's office there's a difference of opinion of whether or not this should be charged", said Heuer.
Now, investigators in another county say, the same man who police believe is responsible for Dale Meister's murder, is their key suspect in a death that was ruled a suicide decades ago.
In 1984, a Plover woman named Pamela Reinwand died of a gunshot wound to the head. Portage County detectives say foul play was suspected at the time, but couldn't be confirmed.
"The circumstances regarding Pam Reinwand's death raised a lot of flags at the time and it was investigated, but it kind of stalled as to where the investigation went, so it was eventually ruled a suicide", said Gary Koehmstedt, Detective with the Portage County Sheriff's Department.
During the 2008 investigation of Dale Meister's murder, something prompted Portage County authorities to re-open Pamela Reinwand's suicide case. Her body was exhumed, a second autopsy was performed and more interviews were conducted.
"We just took a closer look at the case and did some further interviews which weren't done at the time and it allowed us to have a better understanding of what took place on the night Pamela Reinwand passed away", said Koehmstedt.
Within the next few weeks, authorities expect to forward charges in the death.
In the meantime, the man investigators in 2 counties have called their prime suspect in homicide cases, has yet to be charged in either.
He continues to serve his sentence in Eastern Wisconsin, for burglary and weapons convictions. He's expected to be released in less than 4 years.
Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief Kurt Heuer says he will continue to work the investigation, because he says, the family deserves closure.
"To have a suspect is one thing, but to have the family see that there's absolute closure, that someone's been charged in the death of their son, their brother, their father. In the end, the final disposition is that they're held responsible for their actions, until that point in time, I don't believe we've gotten our work done", said Heuer.
Police say it could take just a single phone call to bring Dale Meister's murder case to a close. If you have any information, please call the Wood County Crime Stoppers at 877-325-7867, you can remain anonymous.