Local News

Family releases statement in South Wayne homicide

Police name homicide victims, person of interest

DARLINGTON, Wis. - Relatives of the three victims in Sunday's triple homicide in Lafayette County are thanking the community members for their support, while law enforcement officials continued to investigate the case.

Gary Thoreson, 70, his wife Chloe, 66, and his brother Dean, 76, all were found dead at a home on the 9000 block of Philippine Road in rural South Wayne, Wis., Sunday, according to Lafayette County Sheriff Scott Pedley.

Community members fondly remember South Wayne homicide victims

Late Monday, the pastor of the Wiota Lutheran Church where the Thoresons attended released a statement from the family about the events of the past two days.

The statement says,"It is hard for the family to find words to express everything that is going through their minds...they are shocked, devastated and raw as they are filled with utter sadness." 

However, the family also thanked the community for their support during this time of tragedy.

"These victims are such stellar, highly respected people, great business people, been very successful in the community in their farming, and they're just very nice," Pedley said of the Thoresons.

Dale Schleim, a neighbor to the couple, described them as excellent businesspeople who were known for selling hogs.

"There is nobody in the world who is better than these people," Schleim said. "This kind of got to me. They're a close-knit family, like ours is."

Gene Christensen, another neighbor to the victims, expressed his shock at losing his friends.

"You just can't fathom what has happened, and we can't find words to explain how sad we are for their loss," he said. "What can you say to the family? It's just a sad situation."

Christensen added the incident has instilled fear.

"It's just scary, that something like that can happen in your area. I shouldn't even say it, but we don't lock our door, and now you're ready to lock your door," he said.

Neighbor Lisa Aeberhard echoed Christensen's thoughts.

"You live out here, and most people wouldn't think you'd have to lock your doors way out here, so it's pretty scary," she said.

The Thoresons regularly attended Wiota Lutheran Church, according to the Rev. Luke Smetters. He said Gary Thoreson served on the school board and was an avid woodworker, and Dean Thoreson served his community on the Lafayette County Board.

Wiota Lutheran Church will hold a vigil in their honor Wednesday, according to Smetters.

"This community knows how to band together," Smetters said. "They've done that in the past. They're a community of faith. The community at large in Wiota and in all of Lafayette County will band together once again."

Waukesha police have also named the person of interest being held in connection with the triple homicide.

Waukesha police said they were asked by Lafayette County to detain Jaren Kuester, 31, of Waukesha, in Waukesha in connection with the investigation.

Pedley said the victims and the person of interest didn't know each other. He declined to speculate on theories of motive for the crime.

"These communities are filled with very good and decent people, and when these tragedies strike, it becomes our job to move beyond the emotion and do it by the numbers and hold those people accountable for those criminal behaviors that we found in this particular case," Pedley said.

Keuster was taken into custody just before 3 p.m. Sunday and turned over to Lafayette County. A truck belonging to one of the victims was located in a parking lot in Waukesha adjacent to an apartment where Kuester was located, according to investigators.

In a news release Sunday, Pedley said there was extensive evidence crime lab employees needed to collect at the crime scene.

The Sheriff's Department said it received a report of a deceased individual found by a family member at about 9:53 a.m. Deputies responding to the call found two other bodies at the residence, the statement said.

"The danger to our community, as it relates to the homicide investigation, is now over," Pedley wrote in the statement.


The State of Wisconsin Crime Lab personnel and state Division of Criminal Investigation were assisting the Sheriff's Department at the scene, the statement said.

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