‘We want the car’: 3 facing homicide charges in kidnapping-turned-killing

PORTAGE, Wis. — Details from a recently filed criminal complaint allege that the three suspects in a kidnapping-turned-homicide killed the victim in order to take his car for themselves.

All three defendants — 28-year-old Jesse Freiberg, 38-year-old Laura Johnson, and 21-year-old Ja’Kenya Patty — are charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide as a party to a crime, according to online court records.

Freiberg, Johnson and Patty were arrested late last week after Madison police stopped Patty for reportedly trying to run over Freiberg while driving the victim’s car on the city’s east side.

RELATED: Sheriff’s office: Man kidnapped from Madison fatally shot in Columbia County; 3 in custody

In follow-up interviews with Patty, the 21-year-old said she and Freiberg found Johnson yelling at the victim about money and holding him “hostage” with a box cutter at her home on Tuesday, June 14.

During her interview with police, Patty said she saw Johnson hit the victim in the face several times with a metal object before she pulled him into the hallway, into the elevator, and to the victim’s vehicle. As the three defendants made their way to the victim’s car, Freiberg reportedly asked Patty “Are we going to do this?” To which Patty said, “Yeah, we want the car.”

According to the complaint, Freiberg and Patty split the drive to Columbia County while Johnson and the victim rode in the back seats. Once they made it to the Portage area, Freiberg drove to an area outside of the city and parked near a body of water where all four individuals got out of the car.

The victim tried running toward a nearby ditch when Freiberg pulled out a gun and shot him, the complaint alleges.

When talking to a detective in the Dane County Jail after his arrest, Freiberg reportedly admitted to shooting the victim, adding that Johnson and Patty both told him to shoot the man when he started running.

Freiberg also reportedly said he fired the gun three times — once to make sure it was working and twice while targeting the victim. Freiberg later told investigators Johnson told him and Patty they could do whatever they wanted with the car after Freiberg shot the man.

Columbia County authorities later found the victim’s body near the area of Klappstein Road and State Highway 16, northwest of Portage. According to the complaint, law enforcement found an unfired bullet and a spent shell casing where the victim’s body was found.

An autopsy later revealed the victim was shot in his left thigh; the bullet traveled through his body before exiting through his abdomen, piercing his colon in the process.

All three defendants were still in custody in the Dane County Jail as of Monday morning. They have yet to make an initial appearance in Columbia County Court.