MILWAUKEE -- A southeastern Wisconsin man stole his neighbor's rifle and used it to kill him because of a dispute over their shared lawn, according to a criminal complaint.
James T. Richardson, 51, was charged Monday in Jefferson County with one count of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Beau Butschke, 28,of Ixonia, on July 14.
His houseguest, James H. Richards, 19, also was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the slaying and both were charged with theft from a person or corpse and hiding a corpse. Bail was set at $1 million for each suspect. Preliminary hearings were scheduled for Aug. 15.
Richardson met Richards a couple weeks earlier at a gas station and offered him a place to stay because he was homeless, the complaint said.
Richardson and Butschke were neighbors in a duplex and had been arguing over lawn mowing and Richardson not keeping up his half of the property, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Richardson told detectives he thought about killing Butschke several times.
He and Richards were shooting a rifle near the Rock River on July 14 when Butschke walked by and asked what they were doing.
Richardson jumped from behind a tree and shot several rounds at close range at Butschke, hitting him in the leg and head, the complaint said. When asked how many times he shot Butschke, Richardson said, "I lost it. I don't remember," according to the complaint.
He told a detective that he was "pushed and pushed and just couldn't take it anymore," according to the complaint.
Butschke had suspected Richardson had taken things from his house, the complaint said, and Richardson admitted taking the gun.
"I'm gonna tell you right now, I don't feel bad about it because I was treated like (expletive) for almost two months," the complaint quotes Richardson as telling investigators.
Richardson picked up gardening gloves at his residence, and he and Richards wrapped Butschke's body in a blue tarp and placed it in the bed of Butschke's pickup.
They washed down the area and raked wood chips around and then drove the truck to an unrented storage unit at Ski Slide Storage in Ixonia, where they left the truck with the body.
Richardson took Butschke's phone and broke it into pieces. He also took keys and a wallet from Butschke's pockets, locked the door, threw away the keys and headed back to the duplex, the complaint said. Richardson scattered Butschke's credit cards along some railroad tracks.
"Richards said after they disposed of Beau's body, they went back to Richardson's residence, and they ate brats and drank beer they had taken from Beau's residence," the complaint said.
Butschke's mother reported him missing four days later. The Wisconsin Center for Missing Children & Adults joined Butschke's family, friends and volunteers in an extensive search before police found Butschke's body on July 26 at the storage facility after getting a report of a pungent odor.
On July 31, Richards went to the Janesville police station looking for a place to stay after Richardson was evicted. Police recognized him and he told them what happened. Police later spoke to Richardson who also confessed, the complaint said.
If convicted, the two face life terms plus 20 years in jail and fines of up to $50,000. Online court records say Richards and Richardson have public defenders. A message left at the public defender's office Tuesday was not immediately returned.