Law enforcement agencies announced this morning that Todd A. Brecht, the McNaughton Correctional Center inmate who walked away from a job site Tuesday in St. Germain, has been apprehended without incident in Orlando, Fla.
Sheriff Grady Hartman stated, "I would like to thank all agencies for their cooperative investigative assistance, which lead to the apprehension of the suspect."
According to an Oneida County Sheriff’s Office press release issued earlier this week, Todd A. Brecht, 54, left the St. Germain Golf Club at about noon last Tuesday.
He was assigned to work there as part of McNaughton’s off-site work release program.
Brecht was convicted of first-degree murder in 1986 in Buffalo County after shooting his brother-in-law, Roger Hartman, in the back with a .22-caliber rifle during an argument.
Hartman died 25 days after the shooting. Brecht claimed the shooting was accidental and that it happened after he had tripped and fallen while carrying the rifle, according to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.
There were a number of appeals related to Brecht’s right to a fair trial and the matter eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, but the conviction was ultimately upheld.
According to Department of Corrections (DOC) records, Brecht has no known escape history and is serving a life sentence though he is listed as being eligible for parole in March 2014. Brecht was placed at McNaughton in August 2010 and had worked at the St. Germain Golf Club for more than two years, according to a criminal complaint filed in Oneida County Circuit Court formally charging him with a felony count of escape.
Brecht was dropped off at the golf course weekday mornings and picked up by McNaughton personnel at 4:30 p.m. Brecht was not at the course when DOC staff arrived at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. A search of the golf course and the surrounding area produced no results. Another McNaughton inmate was interviewed and he said he last saw Brecht on the 13th hole at about 1 p.m.
DOC Communications Specialist Aaron Swanum said there are five other inmates currently at McNaughton with sentences similar to Brecht’s.
Swanum said 20 to 30 McNaughton inmates are placed on work release in local communities at any given time. All inmates in the state prison system are re-evaluated annually — or sooner if needed — and at that time placement and program issues are adjusted based upon any changes occurring during the inmate’s incarceration.
“A multi-disciplinary team reviews all inmates prior to consideration for placement in the community for approved off-site activities,” Swanum said about the off-site work release program Brecht was a part of. “One non-profit or municipality can employ up to five community custody inmates to perform supervised assignments outside the center perimeter. Supervision of the work crew is the responsibility of the nonprofit or municipality.”
The Oneida County Sheriff's Office was assisted in this investigation by the Vilas County Sheriff's Office, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Clark County Sheriff's Office, the Bayfield County Sheriff's Office, the Bayfield Police Department, the Redcliff Tribal Police Department, and the Orlando Florida Police Department.
Kyle Rogers may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.