'It was like I'd lost a father': Portage community reacts to slaying of Harold Johnson, 88

'It was like I'd lost a father': Portage community reacts to slaying of Harold Johnson, 88

PORTAGE, Wis. - Tim Zillmer has known Harold Johnson since the day Zillmer moved in across the street.

“He was the first person to come over and say hello,” Zillmer said.

That was 18 years ago. Monday, Johnson was reported missing before being found dead in the parking lot of a casino outside Wisconsin Dells. Police believe it was a homicide.

“It was a shock,” Zillmer said. “It was like I’d lost a father. (We were) not that close, but I felt the same emotions because he was such a great guy.”

Zillmer said Johnson was kind and wouldn’t hurt anyone, so he doesn’t understand what would make someone want to hurt him.

“You wonder why things happen to such good guys,” Zillmer said.

The person police think is responsible, 68-year-old Robert Pulvermacher, is still at large, though people have reported seeing him at various spots around Madison

Madison Police Department spokesman Joel Despain said officers have been briefed on Pulvermacher and know what he looks like so they can arrest him if seen. Police warn Pulvermacher is likely armed and dangerous.



Police in Portage are also on the lookout for Pulvermacher, though they balance work with grief.

Chief Ken Manthey said he lived down the street from Johnson and attended church with him every Sunday. Manthey still remembers the last conversation he had with Johnson and his daughters the Sunday before he went missing.

“His daughters have confidence that he’s in heaven because of his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior,” Manthey said. “I look forward to seeing him again someday.”

Services for Johnson will be this weekend. Visitation will be at Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 a.m. Funeral services will follow.

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