STOUGHTON, Wis. - Stoughton police said they have made an arrest in an alleged hate crime case from earlier this year.
Matthew J. Cimaroli, 21, of DeForest was arrested Sunday on suspicion of felony threats to injure or accuse with a hate crime enhancer.
Police said Cimaroli sent a letter sent to the family of Harry Hale and Hester Hale depicting the lynching of two young black men in a historical textbook photo. The letter had typewritten wording of "Your Days Are Numbered," police said.
The family believed the letter was directed toward 18-year-old Javone Hale.
Cimaroli told police he sent the letter because he was upset over a theft of money from a drug transaction with Javone Hale.
"We are being told by the suspect that it was in retaliation for an alleged drug deal that went bad and some money owed," Stoughton Police Chief Greg Leck said. "It was directed individually at the son and not at the family in particular."
The Hale family said it's relieved by the arrest. Family members said they were not aware of any drug connection with Cimaroli.
"I didn't have knowledge of that," Harry Hale said. "It came to us and we got the letter, me and my wife did. I'm just glad they got him and set an example for people doing stuff like that."
Harry Hale said he had yet to speak to his son about the connection.
Stoughton police said they did include the hate crime enhancer and hope to send a message to the community.
"I think the message that we want to send is that we don't tolerate this kind of behavior in Stoughton, and we will aggressively pursue that," Leck said.
Cimaroli was identified as a suspect in May, but investigators said they needed to wait for DNA evidence to be processed. They said after they told Cimaroli that his DNA was on the letter, he admitted to the crime.
Cimaroli has not yet appeared in court.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice, FBI and the U.S. Postal Service assisted in the investigation.
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