September 24

This Day in History

Crime

Sep 24, 1971:

A game warden is reported missing

Neil LaFeve, the game warden at Sensiba Wildlife Area in Wisconsin, is reported missing. When LaFeve, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, did not show up to his own party, his wife called the police.

The next morning, authorities found LaFeve's truck. A pool of blood and two .22-caliber shells lay nearby. LaFeve's headless body had been buried in a shallow grave, and his severed head, which had two bullet wounds, revealed that he had been shot with a .22 shotgun.

Detectives immediately began investigating anyone who had a motive to kill the warden. Because LaFeve was known for harshly confronting poachers, everyone that had been arrested by him at the wildlife area was questioned. Those without solid alibis were asked to take a polygraph test. While this process took a long time and those involved grumbled, only Brian Hussong refused to take the test.

LaFeve had arrested Hussong several times for poaching, most recently for shooting pheasants illegally. After investigators received a court order enabling them to wiretap Hussong's phone, a call to his grandmother, Agnes Hussong, broke open the case. Police heard Agnes say that Brian's guns were well hidden. When they searched her home, she showed them the .22 rifle that was later proven to be the murder weapon.

At Hussong's trial, his grandmother denied both the phone conversation and the encounter with the police, but the Michigan Voice Identification Unit verified that the voice on the wiretap tapes was indeed hers. After the impeachment of his grandmother's testimony, Hussong did not stand much of a chance: He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1972.

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