October 05, 2005

Some answers for a grieving community

Pioneer Press

Once in a while a horrific crime with a multitude of tentacles reaches into a community and shakes it to its roots. Even after a legal resolution, questions remain. The community slips back into its routines, but never forgets. Closure is too strong a word for such a situation, but the answers help the community come to terms with its losses.

After almost three years of police investigation, a Wisconsin judge ruled this week that it is almost certain that the Rev. Ryan Erickson, former associate pastor at St. Patrick's Church, murdered owner Dan O'Connell and mortuary intern James Ellison in a Hudson funeral home in February 2002. The murders, the first in Hudson in more than two decades, shocked and frightened the close-knit St. Croix River town.

Complicating the investigation was Father Erickson's death by suicide in 2004, after he was questioned by police in connection with the killings of O'Connell and Ellison. Judge Eric Lundell said after a "John Doe" hearing this week that circumstantial evidence presented by the St. Croix County prosecutor strongly pointed to Erickson as the killer, including testimony from a church deacon who said that the priest, 31, admitted that he "did" something and would be caught.

Posted by kshaw at October 5, 2005 09:23 AM