Suspect Accused In Rock County Killings Has Violent Past

The man accused of killing a woman and her two teenage children in Rock County last week has a record of violent crime.

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James Koepp, 47, is being held by Rock County authorities in the deaths of Danyetta Lentz, 38, her 17-year-old daughter Nicole and 14-year-old son Scott. They were found dead in their mobile home last Friday morning. Authorities have said that they died of “complex homicidal violence.”

Koepp is a registered sex offender who lived near the family in a mobile home park in Rock Township, just outside Janesville. Authorities haven’t said how Koepp is connected to the victims besides being neighbors, WISC-TV reported.

Koepp was convicted of four counts of second-degree sexual assault in the 1980s. A criminal complaint said that Koepp sexually assaulted two women at a drug and alcohol treatment center in Madison in March 1982.

He was released from prison in 1993 to begin serving probation, but he was sentenced to another six years in prison after his probation was revoked by the state Department of Corrections.

Koepp 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.”

He was released from prison again in 2001, WISC-TV reported.

According to court documents, Koepp also has a history of alcohol abuse and mental illness, including depression, has made several suicide attempts, WISC-TV reported.

Authorities said that Koepp was initially picked up on Tuesday night on suspicion of drunken driving after a high-speed chase on Highway 51. Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said on Wednesday that the sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies began pursuing Koepp in Janesville when his vehicle was weaving and the driver was suspected of being under the influence.

Koepp’s vehicle was stopped when police used road spikes after a chase, Spoden said.

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

Spoden said that he was satisfied with the arrest, but he urged people to remember the victims.

“I feel a sense of relief and sadness for the family,” he said. “We have to remember there was the loss of three innocent people who were decent human beings.”

Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary said that he plans to file three charges of first-degree intentional homicide against Koepp this week.

Koepp is expected in court later this week, WISC-TV reported.

Family, Neighbors React To Arrest

The victims’ family said on Wednesday that news of Koepp’s arrest is helping them get some closure. Russ Lucht, the father and grandfather of the victims, said that he just wanted to be alone with his family on Wednesday night, WISC-TV reported.

Koepp lived in a mobile home in the park that is behind the Lentz trailer.

Some park residents said that Koepp hadn’t had much contact with neighbors and seemed like a typical resident here, WISC-TV reported.

His arrest is shocking to some residents, but also offered some peace of mind to others.

Terry Schmit, who has lived in the park since 1993, said that he is relived at the arrest.

“How do I feel? Relieved,” Schmit said. “I’m glad they found the person. (I’m) just speechless. It doesn’t get better than this right now. I could have gave a million dollars to find the guy.”

Angela Puckett, who said that she was Danyetta Lentz’s best friend, said that she was upset about the news of the arrest.

“I cried and I’ve been crying, finding out that I know the person,” Puckett said.

She said that she was concerned that Koepp lived in the park.

“Friday night, the person they’re saying that did this came over here and gave me a hug,” Puckett said. “He knew how close I was to Dani.”

“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,” she said.

Puckett says she’d only met Koepp this last summer and that he seemed like a typical resident here.

Some of Koepp’s family lives in the same mobile-home park, but they declined to comment on Wednesday night, WISC-TV reported.

Justin Anderson, who lives next door to Koepp and directly behind the Lentz trailer, said that he’s struggling to believe that a neighbor he’s known for five years is being held in the triple slaying.

Anderson said that he’s shocked at the arrest of someone he’s known as a friend. He said that he believes Koepp has worked in a factory and as a truck driver and also plowed snow.

Anderson describes Koepp as a “mellow dude” and said that he’s flabbergasted to hear he’s a suspect in the killings.

Police tape still surrounded the Lentz trailer on Wednesday evening. The nearby Koepp trailer was dark.

Date For Victims’ Funerals Is Set

The date for the three victims’ funerals was announced on Wednesday.

The Lentz family will be laid to rest on Saturday at the First Lutheran Church in Janesville. Visitation runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the funeral services will begin then.

Family and friends said that they remember Danyetta Lentz as a loving mom. They said that she had more than her share of troubles in life, but kept smiling through it all, WISC-TV reported.

Family members said that Nicole Lentz was a social butterfly who loved spending time with her friends and boyfriend. Scott was quieter, they said. He enjoyed playing video games and had a talent for drawing, WISC-TV reported.

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

Previous Stories:

January 18, 2007: Resident Of Janesville Mobile-Home Park Arrested In Triple Slaying
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