Madison man charged with murder of woman whose body wasn’t found for months

A Madison woman laid dead for 56 days before police found her, a criminal complaint alleges

MADISON, Wis. – A Madison man is being charged in the July murder of a Madison woman whose body wasn’t found until months later.

Gregg Raether, 56, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide, possession of a firearm by a felon, and three counts of unauthorized use of food stamps.

The complaint alleges that Raether killed Patricia McCollough, 55, on July 22.

Police did not discover McCollough’s body until September 16, at a house in the 4500 block of Deerwood Drive. The Dane County Medical Examiner confirmed McCollough’s identity on Monday.

Authorities say McCollough’s body was found in a bedroom with items including dresser drawers and televisions stacked on top of her, and could be seen from the adjoining hallway. An autopsy report showed that McCollough died of mechanical asphyxia and blunt force injuries of the torso.

According to the complaint, Raether had been living with McCollough for about one year. He had been in police custody on July 23 but was released from the Dane County Jail on September 4.

Raether had allegedly been on the run for three years prior to his arrest. He was taken back into police custody on September 23.

The complaint details multiple phone conversations Raether had while in jail between July 23 and July 30 regarding an alleged physical confrontation with a woman referred to as “P.” All of the calls detailed in the complaint were reportedly made to a woman named Sherri Albrecht, 56, of Madison. Albrecht is listed as a co-defendant in the criminal complaint and shares an address with Raether.

In an interview with detectives, Albrecht reportedly confirmed that “P” was McCollough. Albrecht is being charged with four counts of unauthorized use of food stamps.

The criminal complaint states that while Raether was in custody, he spoke unprompted to police about McCollough’s death, saying, “I didn’t murder her.”

Raether speaks to detectives

During an interview with detectives, Raether reportedly claimed he was with Albrecht on July 23, and that McCollough was alive on that day. He claimed McCollough called Albrecht about 40 times that day, but the complaint alleges records from McCollough’s phone do not support Raether’s claims.

Raether also reportedly said that he and Albrecht went to the Deerwood Drive house with a U-Haul on September 4, but told police he did not know McCollough’s body was there.

Raether reportedly told detectives that during his visit to the house on that day, he was searching for McCollough and for squatters. He said that he entered the bedroom that he and McCollough shared, picking up the bed and looking underneath. That was the room where McCollough’s body was reportedly later found. According to the complaint, Raether said he was in the house for at least two hours on September 4.

Raether reportedly told detectives that he last saw McCollough alive on July 21. He later told detectives that he actually saw her on the morning of July 22, before then saying he actually saw her on at night on July 22.

Raether claimed that when he went to the Deerwood Drive house on the night of July 22, McCollough allegedly beat him with a rubber mallet, smashed a TV and hit him in the head and ribs. A photo taken from Raether’s arrest on July 23 shows a mark on his head.

He and Albrecht reportedly returned to the Deerwood Drive house on July 23 but saw no sign of McCollough. He reportedly told detectives that there was excessive damage done to the house before he arrived that morning. He later changed his statement, saying he first saw the damage when he and Albrecht visited the house on September 4.

Albrecht speaks to detectives

Albrecht says Raether did not go to McCollough’s house on July 22. She told detectives she and Raether were together for the entire day, and she did not go to sleep until 1 a.m. Albrecht reportedly told detectives the only time she didn’t know where Raether was was when she was asleep.

According to the complaint, Albrecht says she found out McCollough died on September 17. However, a calendar was reportedly found in McCollough’s home with a note saying she had found McCollough dead on August 20.

Albrecht reportedly said that the note meant to read that she “found out” McCollough was dead, and that it was accidentally written on the wrong date.

The complaint claims a letter reportedly found at Albrecht’s home gives a timeline of events from July 21 to July 23, including a visit by Raether to McCollough’s house at 3 a.m. on July 23.

Detectives also reportedly spoke to Albrecht about her phone records. According to the complaint, the last outgoing call from McCollough’s phone was to Albrecht at 11:22 p.m. on July 22. Albrecht reportedly said the call did not last long, and McCollough only said that she was with Raether.

Albrecht also allegedly told detectives that she and Raether only stayed at the Deerwood Drive house for about 30-45 minutes when they visited on September 4.

In a second interview with detectives, Albrecht reportedly said that she did not see McCollough’s body in the bedroom because the door was closed, but authorities say that the door could not be closed because of the items that were stacked on top of McCollough.

Raether speaks to Albrecht from jail

The complaint also details a series of phone calls made from the Dane County Jail by Raether to Albrecht after his arrest on September 23. The calls were reportedly placed between September 25 and October 1.

On September 25, Raether reportedly asked Albrecht why he was being charged in McCollough’s killing saying, “How Bear, we had a perfect alibi.”

On September 29, Raether reportedly told Albrecht to stop talking with police and find a lawyer, telling her, “you talking would make their case rock solid.”

According to the complaint, Raether and Albrecht both reportedly admitted to using McCollough’s food stamp card.