Missing Lincoln County Grandmother Allegedly Stabbed, Strangled; Husband Faces Murder ChargesSubmitted: 05/13/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

MERRILL - "She was just such an awesome lady that, it hurts, it really hurts," says Cliff Brown.

Cliff, one of Anita Bucki's several brothers, is among those grieving her death.

That's what made hearing some of the things he did in court today even more painful.

"She had been stabbed, and there was bruising on the inside of her throat, indicating to the pathologist that she may have been strangled," Lincoln County District Attorney Don Dunphy said at Mark Bucki's initial appearance Tuesday.

Mark, Anita's husband, had reported her missing from her rural Merrill home on April 26th.

But instead of a husband concerned for his missing wife, prosecutors believe he murdered her.

"There were seven stab wounds," Dunphy told reporters.

"There's anger. It's like, okay, you were her husband. You're supposed to protect her. Why all of a sudden is she found in the woods in a swamp? Are you kidding me?" asks Cliff.

A couple walking the forest in Taylor County found her body late last week, and she was identified Sunday.

Mark Bucki admitted to investigators he and Anita, a couple for nearly 27 years, were having a conversation about divorce, and he raised his voice.

He told police that after she supposedly disappeared, he ripped out carpeting from the bedroom, took some of Anita's belongings, and burned them.

"It certainly looks as if that carpeting was removed for a reason. And burned," Dunphy said.

A warrant led investigators to find blood in the home and on Mark Bucki's boots.

"Some of the blood was found in the living room, and I have a hard time believing Mr. Bucki dressed a deer," Dunphy told Judge John Yackel.

A police dog found signs of decomposing flesh in the bed of Mark Bucki's truck, on his boots, in the shower, in a burn barrel, and in what looked like a shallow by empty grave.

A week and a half after those discoveries, the discovery of Anita's body, with its stab wounds and throat bruising, was found in Taylor County.

Now, prosecutors think they have a strong case against Mark Bucki.

But Anita leaves behind the thing that was seemingly most important to her her family.

"Her granddaughter was just everything to her," said Cliff.

Alauna had just turned one year old.

Now, she'll grow up without Grandma Anita.

"That's Anita in a nutshell right there," Cliff said of a picture of Alauna and Anita. "The smile on her face, the baby in her arms, it's beautiful. That's how we've got to remember her."

We'll wait to see if Anita's husband, Mark, will be found guilty for making remembering her the only way left to experience Anita Bucki.

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

Even in the winter, the apple orchard is checked on.

"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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MADISON - The state Natural Resources' board will soon vote on selling another 3,500 acres of public land.

A measure included in the state budget ordered the DNR to sell 10,000 acres by the middle of next year.

Money raised will help pay down debt in the agency's land stewardship program.

The Natural Resources board approved putting about 1,400 acres up for sale in 2014.

Another 5,700 acres went up for sale this past February.

The board should vote Wednesday in Madison on whether to put a final 93 parcels totaling just over 3,500 acres up for sale.

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MADISON - Even with higher fees, plenty of people want to camp in state parks.

Wisconsin state park use this year is on track to be higher than average, despite fee increases that were imposed to offset the withdrawal of tax support.

The number of camping registrations and nights camped in 2016 through Friday was greater than in any year since 2008 except for last year's record.

This year, there have been nearly 160,000 camping registrations and more than 386,000 nights camped for state parks, recreation areas and southern forests.

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RHINELANDER - Next Monday Northwoods youngsters will go house to house in search of Halloween candy and fun with friends.
But on Tuesday some Rhinelander high school students went going door-to-door a few days early.

Students from a business club took to the street to collect donations for their first ever 'Trick or Can' food drive.

Some students hope going into the community will help the event be successful.

"The idea is that it's no easier to give back in a food drive mentality than if we came to your house and asked to it. So in the theme of Halloween we took trick or can, and instead of asking for candy we are asking for cans in order to give back to our community," Rhinelander High School Senior Elliot Fehlen.

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WAUSAU - It can take a big name and a well-known face to get people excited about signing up for a group.  As part of its revitalization drive, Wausau's American Legion Post 10 got a visit from a name you might not recognize, but one that veterans groups know is an honor to host.

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt stopped by the Wausau post Tuesday morning. It was the first visit by a national commander ever at Wausau's Post 10.

Schmidt says the same issues veterans faced when the Legion formed in 1919 -- healthcare, jobs, and education -- still exist in 2016.

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RHINELANDER - The finishing touches of Rhinelander's Downtown Streetscape project will include painting crosswalks, removing traffic gates, and completing sidewalks. Planting dozens of trees downtown will also help the city finish the major project.

Nationwide, "Arbor Day" falls in late April. But the city proclaimed Tuesday Arbor Day in Rhinelander.

It's a recognition of the importance trees play in finishing the streetscape project and in Rhinelander as a whole.

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TOWN OF DEXTER - Two people died and two others were taken to the hospital after a head-on crash in Wood County Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:35 p.m.

Two of the three people in one car were pronounced dead at the scene.  The third was flown to Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital.  The driver of the other car was also flown to St. Jospeh's.

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