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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Million Dollar Bail Set In Homicide Case

Find Kaempf Is

Not Eligible For

Public Defender




It took all of eight minutes in a packed courtroom on Thursday, May 2 for Marinette County Circuit Judge James A. Morrison to conclude a bail hearing for accused murderer Brent L. Kaempf, Peshtigo. He found probable cause that a murder had been committed and that Kaempf had committed it and set bail at $1 million cash as requested by the prosecution, partly in view of the seriousness of the charge, and partly due to the risk that Kaempf would flee.

Judge Morrison told Kaempf his ruling was only a probable cause determination, and assured him, “You retain a presumption of innocence.”

Kaempf, 48, is charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide in the stabbing death of Patricia “Trish” J. Waschbisch on Sunday, April 28 at the home they shared at 526 Thompson St., Peshtigo. Waschbisch was well known in the area as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, mainly as an adult legal advocate and interim director of Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services in Marinette, where she had been employed for a dozen years.

Kaempf appeared by video conference from the Marinette County Jail, where he has been held since he was returned from Wauwatosa last Tuesday.

Kaempf was apprehended by Wauwatosa police about 3:30 a.m. Monday, April 1, and held there until the following afternoon on the basis of an all points bulletin issued by Peshtigo Police. Agents from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations were involved.

In court on Thursday, the prosecution was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kent A. Hoffman. Beside Kaempf in the jail for the teleconference hearing, and speaking on his behalf, was Public Defender Bradley Schraven. Schraven told the court his office was in the process of reviewing Kaempf’s assets to determine his eligibility for a Public Defender.

At a hastily called hearing on Monday, May 6, with Kaempf again present by video conference from the jail, the defendant was told he has too many assets to qualify for a public defender and will have to either hire his own attorney or have the court appoint one for him through the “Dean appointment” process, through which Kaempf would be held personally responsible for payment, with his assets for security. Judge Morrison strongly advised Kaempf not to go with the third alternative, which would be to go without an attorney and represent himself.

Judge Morrison said before calling Monday’s hearing he had received a letter from Schraven stating that Kaempf has about $60,000 in assets available to hire an attorney and clearly did not qualify for public defender status.

The asset limit for a homicide case, Schraven said, is $17,500, and Kaempf has his home, a car, about $4,100 in the bank and an IRA.

Kaempf questioned the value listed for his house, but Schraven said even if the house was appraised at a far lower value Kaempf would most likely not qualify for the services of a public defender.

After Judge Morrison asked him if he wanted a Dean attorney or would hire his own, Kaempf chose to try to hire his own attorney and said he would have his parents look for one.

Kaempf has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him. His next court appearance is scheduled as an initial appearance with counsel at 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 10. Judge Morrison said if Kaempf has not been able to obtain the services of an attorney by then he will grant a continuance, in which case he would expect the next appearance to be in about two weeks.

“Selection of an attorney in a matter of this importance is very critical,” Judge Morrison commented.

District Attorney Allen Brey said because Monday’s court session had been convened on such short notice he had no opportunity to contact the victim’s family, although he did attempt some phone calls to her parents. He said the family had no real opportunity to attend the proceedings. Judge Morrison said he had considered that issue, but he felt an attorney for the defense had to get involved in this case at the earliest possible time. He thanked Brey for being available on a short time and for attempting to contact the victim’s family.

At the hearing on Thursday, Hoffman asked that bail be set for $1 million cash. He explained that First Degree Homicide carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He noted that Kaempf has been a lifelong resident of the area, but the seriousness of the charges may tempt Kaempf to flee. In fact, Hoffman pointed out that Kaempf did flee, trying to go to Illinois. This alone pointed to Kaempf being a flight risk.

Hoffman also explained the court would have to review the Probable Cause document that was signed by Judge David Miron on Tuesday, April 30.

Schraven stated that Kaempf did understand the charges and that there would be no counter-bail argument at this time. He did, however, reserve the right for Kaempf to argue for a lower bail once he acquires an attorney.

Judge Morrison said he had reviewed the Probable Cause document, further stating that he had signed some of the search warrants with his own hand. He agreed that he, too, finds probable cause.

Morrison said he agreed with the bail amount of $1 million. First Degree Homicide is the most serious possible charge in the State of Wisconsin. He further noted that Kaempf did, indeed, try to flee.

Kaempf spoke twice during the hearing, both times in response to a direct question from the judge. His voice was clear, but feeble.

Following the hearing, Hoffman told the media that in the State of Wisconsin, a $1 million cash bail is not like other states which only require 10 or 15 percent down. If Kaempf wishes to be released on bail, he will have to post $1 million in cash. Hoffman reminded the press that Kaempf is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The criminal complaint against Kaempf states that officers were dispatched to the 526 Thompson Street residence in Peshtigo at 7:20 p.m. Sunday, April 28 with the report of a dead person. Numerous officers arrived at the scene including Sgt. Randy Miller of the Marinette County Sheriff’s Department and Officer Jason Christenson of the City of Peshtigo Police Department. Outside the residence they encountered two friends of Waschbisch, Nick Chmela and Kelly Swanson, as well as Waschbisch’s 13 year old daughter. The officers were told that Trish Waschbisch was dead in the home.

Miller and Christenson went into the home and performed a protective sweep. They observed no one else present except the victim, who was found on the bathroom floor. The officers observed a large amount of blood and that she had obvious wounds to her neck. They also noticed two knives on the floor near her body.

The two friends outside stated that Kaempf and Waschbisch both lived at the home and that they had been trying to reach Kaempf via telephone and text message earlier in the day. They stated that Kaempf’s car was not at the residence and they were unable to locate him.

The two friends told officers that on Saturday evening they had invited Waschbisch and Kaempf to their home for a bonfire. Waschbisch’s daughter accompanied them.

About 10 p.m., Waschbisch and a female friend were inside the home talking. Waschbisch told her she was done with Kaempf because he stalked her at a bar on Friday evening. Waschbisch stated that she had been out with another friend and that Kaempf followed her to the bar. She stated that she had asked him to leave, but he would not do so. Kaempf then stayed at the bar until Waschbisch left. Waschbisch stated that she asked Kaempf why he did not leave and he had stated that she would cheat on him.

At about 11 p.m. on Saturday, Waschbisch and Kaempf left for home, but the couple they were visiting invited the daughter to sleep over, which she did.

On Sunday, just after noon, the daughter began trying to reach her mother via telephone, and then tried to text both her mother and Kaempf. Neither answered. About 1 p.m. the daughter received a text message from Kaempf stating that both he and Waschbisch were at a store in Marinette and that she couldn’t be dropped off yet. Throughout the course of the afternoon, the daughter tried calling and texting her mother, to no avail.

The friends finally decided to drive over to the Waschbisch home. The daughter found the front door open and went in. Suddenly they heard her scream. The friend went in and found Waschbisch. They got the daughter out of the home and called 911.

The police attempted to locate Kaempf, with negative results. Using police information systems they put out an all alert bulletin to all law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for Kaempf and his vehicle.

At 3 a.m. on Monday, April 29, a City of Wauwatosa Police Officer was on patrol and observed a vehicle parked near a closed business. He investigated and observed a man sleeping in the car. He woke the man up and spoke with him. The man identified himself as Brent Kaempf. The officer did an information check on the defendant and was advised of the bulletin put out by Marinette County authorities. The officer detained Kaempf. While doing so, he observed that Kaempf had an injury to his wrist then took Kaempf to a hospital in Milwaukee County.

Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigations Agents Jansky and Smith went to that hospital and spoke with Kaempf, who identified himself. They advised Kaempf of his Constitutional rights and he waived them. They questioned him about the death of Patricia Waschbisch. Among other things, Kaempf stated that he was in Wauwatosa because he ran away from home. They asked him why he ran away from home and Kaempf stated that he killed his girlfriend. They asked who his girlfriend was and he stated Waschbisch’s name. Kaempf stated that he stabbed her with a kitchen knife.

Kaempf also stated that he had dated Waschbisch for a number of years and the last few years they had been living together in the City of Peshtigo. Kaempf said the stabbing occurred in their home, either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Waschbisch’s body was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, where an autopsy was performed by a licensed forensic pathologist during the afternoon of Monday, April 29. His preliminary finding was that Waschbisch died as the result of a homicide. She had several sharp-force injuries consistent with knife wounds in the head and neck area.

Court records show the couple may have had a somewhat stormy relationship, and quotes attributed to relatives and friends bear this up. They were said to have somewhat regularly broken up and then gotten back together.

On March 13, 2006, Waschbisch filed a Small Claims civil case against Kaempf. On April 22, 2010 misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct were brought against Kaempf, and a day later Waschbisch obtained a temporary domestic abuse restraining order against him. The restraining order case is marked closed, and the battery and misdemeanor counts were dismissed on motion of the prosecutor, allegedly because Waschbisch withdrew her complaint.

Friends and relatives on both sides of the relationship expressed surprise, shock and grief over the tragedy. A cousin reportedly described Kaempf as a soft spoken man who occasionally enjoyed too much beer, enjoyed his job at Marinette Marine Corp., “and would help you get your car started even though he didn’t know you.”

Co-workers of Waschbisch said Kaempf often attended fund raisers on behalf of domestic violence victims and certainly knew what domestic violence is all about. They expressed shock, dismay and outrage that he would allegedly commit a domestic violence homicide.


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