4 Charged With Homicide, Abuse in Wis.
Thursday, June 21, 2007; 9:51 AM
PORTAGE, Wis. -- Police initially went to a rental property in this sleepy Wisconsin town in search of a 2-year-old girl kidnapped from her Florida foster home by her mother last fall.
What they found was a house of horrors, detectives say: A roving band of suspected identity thieves who had killed one of their own, buried her in the backyard and locked her bloody and beaten 11-year-old son in an upstairs closet.
"It's crazy. Weird," said next-door neighbor Angie Turley, who moved from Milwaukee to Portage to get away from crime. "It can happen anywhere."
Charged Wednesday with being a party to first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse and child abuse are Candace Clark, 23; Clark's boyfriend, Michael Sisk, 25; Michaela Clerc, 20; and Felicia Mae Garlin, 15.
The teen is the dead woman's daughter and the sister of the boy in the closet.
Police said the group arrived in February in Portage, a town of 8,000 about 40 miles north of Madison that touts itself as "Where the North Begins."
The group was joined by Garlin's mother, Tammie Garlin; her 11-year-old brother; and three other children, including the kidnapped girl.
Detectives said the group was running from the law in several states. Clark was wanted in Florida in her 2-year-old daughter's abduction, as well as in Kentucky on felony warrants for financial fraud, Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said.
Sisk was wanted in Colorado for not returning to jail after he was let out on work release, Kohlwey said. In the past year, the group had lived in Florida, Maine, Tennessee, Kentucky and Colorado, and came to Wisconsin to see snow, a criminal complaint said.
The group was making a living through financial fraud using aliases, prosecutors said. Kohlwey said investigators found a stash of money orders in the house, each good for $500, made out to the fake names.
They tortured the 11-year-old _ identified in the complaint only by his initials _ by whipping him, withholding food, scalding him with hot water and pulling his genitals with pliers, the complaint said. The group sometimes choked him until he nearly passed out and forced him to sleep naked in his sister's closet, prosecutors said.
His mother and sister helped torture him, prosecutors said.