Three Men Accused Of Attempted Grave Robbing
Wisconsin State Journal :: FRONT :: A1
Monday, September 4, 2006
DEBORAH ZIFF email@example.com 608-252-6120
A week after the death of their 20-year old daughter, Clifford and Marge Tennessen faced another blow, when three men tried to dig up her grave at a Cassville cemetery, police said.
Laura Tennessen, a nursing assistant in Cuba City, died in Cassville, about 100 miles southwest of Madison, after she was thrown from the back of a motorcycle on Aug. 27.
Grant County Sheriff Keith Govier said he believes Alex and Nicholas Grunke, twin brothers from Ridgeway, and their friend Dustin Radke of Dodgeville drove from Ridgeway Saturday to take Laura Tennessen's corpse from the grave.
Calling it, "the most bizarre case that I've been personally involved in, in 21 years of law enforcement," Govier said deputies are still looking for the motive.
Saturday night, a neighbor called police to report a suspicious man, dressed in black and parked on a side street near St. Charles Cemetery in Cassville. An officer found Alex Grunke, 20, who said his twin brother and a friend were digging up a grave, Govier said.
At Tennessen's graves, officers discovered a hole that uncovered the concrete vault that encases the coffin. The two men had run off, likely scared away by the police cars, Govier said.
Alex Grunke was arrested and police searched for the other two throughout the night, finding them Sunday morning walking along Highway 81 in Beetown, about eight miles from the cemetery.
All three were tentatively charged with attempted theft of a corpse and remained in jail Sunday.
Govier said he doesn't believe Tennessen knew the three men.
"All indications show there was no relationship," he said. "They never e-mailed, never spoke, never visited, never called."
The cemetery caretaker replaced the dirt over the casket Saturday and police checked throughout the night to make sure the men didn't return, a concern of the Tennessen family, Govier said.
Clifford Tennessen wouldn't comment Sunday afternoon.
Radke, 20, has a history of minor run-ins with the police, including theft in 2004 and disorderly conduct in March. He also pleaded guilty to underage drinking in 2004.
Both Grunkes pleaded guilty to underage drinking in 2003, but court records don't show any arrests for more serious crimes.
Tennessen was on the back of a motorcycle driven by Thomas C. Sweet, 20, of Lancaster, on Aug. 27, when he lost control. Both were flung from the 2001 Honda. They were taken to Grant Regional Health Center, where Tennessen was pronounced dead. Neither wore helmets, and alcohol and speed are considered to be factors in the crash, according to the sheriff's department.
Tennessen graduated from Cassville High School in 2004.
"She lived life to the fullest with no regrets, as if there was no tomorrow," her obituary said. "She loved working with the staff and residents at Southwest Health Center Nursing home. Laura loved her family and friends and we will all miss that beautiful smile."
This is not the first traffic-related tragedy for the Tennessens. Laura's brother, Tom, 19, died in a car crash outside of Platteville on a winter night 10 years ago.