Resident Of Janesville Mobile-Home Park Arrested In Triple Slaying

Authorities said they have arrested a man in the killing of a Janesville mother and her two teenage children at their mobile home last week.

VIDEO: Sheriff Announces Arrest
|VIDEO: Suspect Arrested In Connection With Triple Homicide|VIDEO: Family Reacts To Arrest|VIDEO: Neighbors React To Arrest

Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said a resident of the same mobile-home park was arrested in the killings on Tuesday night.

Spoden said that James Koepp, 47, was arrested on charges of three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, knowingly fleeing an officer, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and reckless endangering of safety.

Danyetta Lentz, 38, and her children, 17-year-old Nicole Lentz and 14-year-old Scott Lentz, were found dead in their mobile home on the outskirts of Janesville last Friday morning.

Authorities have said they died of “complex homicidal violence,” which Spoden said means their deaths could have multiple causes. Medical examiners have confirmed the three were victims of homicide.

Spoden said the sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies began pursuing Koepp in Janesville on Tuesday night when his vehicle was weaving and the driver was suspected of being under the influence.

Authorities said Koepp’s vehicle was stopped using road spikes after a chase at speeds ranging from 40 to 80 mph.

The sheriff said a residence and two vehicles connected to Koepp were searched for additional evidence.

Authorities said the investigation into the triple slaying will continue. Detectives are waiting for DNA analysis from the state Crime Lab, WISC-TV reported.

The state sex offender registry showed Koepp was convicted of second-degree sexual assault in Dane County in 1984.

The victims’ family said that news of an arrest is bringing them some closure.

It has been a long, painful week for the victims’ family, many of whom just arrived from out of state for the funerals this weekend.

Danyetta Lentz’s father, Russ Lucht, said that the sheriff delivered news of the arrest to him personally Wednesday afternoon.

The family said they are very grateful to the sheriff’s department for all its hard work. Lucht said that he feels he can begin to move on now and focus on saying goodbye to his daughter and grandchildren this weekend.

Funeral services for the victims will be held on Saturday at the First Lutheran Church in Janesville. Visitation starts at 10 a.m., and funeral services begin at 2 p.m.

Angela Puckett, a neighbor and friend of the Lentz family, said she broke into tears upon hearing that her neighbor James Koepp had been arrested in connection with the slayings.

Puckett said she only met Koepp and his wife a couple of times this summer and that he seemed like a normal guy.

“Friday night, the person they’re saying that did this came over here and gave me a hug. He knew how close I was to (Danyetta), and he told me that he was really sorry to hear that, and if I ever needed anything, that he couldn’t do anything now, but he was always there,” Puckett said.

Other residents of the mobile-home park said they are relieved that an arrest has been made.

“I feel relieved. I’m glad they found the person, just speechless. It doesn’t get better than this right now. I could have given a million dollars to find the guy,” said Terry Schmit, who lived in the park since 1993.

Suspect Has Criminal History

State records showed Koepp is a registered sex offender after committing a sex crime in the early 1980s in Dane County.

Online court records showed he was found guilty of four counts of second-degree sexual assault at his trial in 1983. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was released in 1993.

An appeals court decision in 1996 showed that his probation was revoked in 1995 and he was sentenced to six more years in prison.

He appealed, but the court upheld the six-year term as appropriate, citing his “two violent sexual assaults, his continued alcohol problems, and his unsatisfactory progress toward rehabilitation.”

According to court documents, Koepp has a history of alcohol abuse and mental illness.

Koepp is expected to appear in Rock County Circuit Court on Friday.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.

Previous Stories:

January 17, 2007: Detectives Rule Out Ex-Husband, Boyfriend In Triple Slaying
January 17, 2007: Investigators Examine Teen’s Internet Activity For Clues In Triple Slaying
January 16, 2007: Lab Testing DNA In Rock County Triple Slaying
January 16, 2007: Authorities Piece Together New Clues In Rock County Triple Murder
January 15, 2007: Authorities Continue Investigating Rock Township Triple Homicide
January 15, 2007: Examiners Cite ‘Complex Homicidal Violence’ In Triple Slaying
January 13, 2007: Woman, Two Children Found Dead In Mobile Home Near Janesville