MERRILL - Mark Bucki sat shackled in Lincoln County Court Thursday while prosecutors brought damning evidence against him.
He's the Merrill man accused of killing his wife, Anita Bucki, back in April.
Lincoln County Sheriff's Lieutenant Mark Gartmann told the court about his department's investigation.
Mark Bucki called police to say his wife went missing April 26.
"There was no concern in his voice. I noticed that it was a matter-of-fact type tone. He appeared to be confused about whether or not it was 24 hours before he had to report this, but there was no urgency in his voice," Gartmann said.
Things got even more suspicious when Lincoln County Sheriff's deputies got to the Buckis' home.
"The driveway had been freshly graded, and he did not notice any vehicle tracks or footprints leading up to the residence, which he thought was rather strange," Gartmann said.
Strange - and suspicious enough for Sergeant Chad Collinsworth to call for help.
"I received a phone call from Collinsworth indicating there were some very suspicious circumstances, and I believe his exact words were 'you need to get out here'," Gartmann said.
Gartmann testified about what else deputies found: Anita's car, keys, and jacket left behind.
Carpet ripped out in one of the bedroooms.
A shallow but empty gravesite near the home.
On May 10, a couple walking in the woods in Taylor County found a woman's body.
The woman had seven stab wounds to the chest, and severe bruising around her neck, as though she had been strangled.
Gartmann testified that Bucki didn't call to ask about his wife on May 10, 11, 12, or even 13.
In fact, it was Gartmann that contacted him.
Dental records proved the body was Anita.
Bloodhounds found her husband's scent where her body was found.
Gartmann said that relatives and friends told him that's where Mark Bucki often hunted.
Also in court, we learned why Mark might have wanted Anita dead.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office pieced together text messages, emails, and conversations with Bucki to try to answer that question.
Prosecutors point to the Buckis' marital problems as a motive.
Gartmann recounted a conversation where Bucki told a deputy his wife wanted to save the marriage - but he didn't.
"She was adamant about wanting to stay with Mark. She wanted very much to stay with him, and that Mark basically did not want to remain in the marriage, and at some point in time, Mark made the comment that he was okay with the fact that the two of them would go their separate ways, but she was aware of a girlfriend of his, and that she would contact that girlfriend and also the girlfriend's husband," he said.
During his testimony, Gartmann read letters Bucki wrote to his girlfriend from jail.
"It states, 'My to be happiest summer were turned to my worst because of Anita! The feelings I had left for her sure are gone since I been stuck in here'," Gartmann testified on the stand.
Bucki's defense attorneys argued against most of the evidence, because DNA and blood results aren't back from the crime lab yet.
But the judge decided there was enough evidence to go forward with the case.
His lawyers also requested his bond be reduced from $2 million to $100,000.
STEVENS POINT - A former Portage County doctor could go to prison for sexually assaulting his patients. Wilton Calderon pled guilty to three felonies Friday.
Calderon was a caregiver at the Plover Family Practice until leaving it in 2015. He then moved to Connecticut.
At least seven women accused Calderon of sexually assaulted them during appointments. Some patients said Calderon placed his genitals in their hands and performed unwanted gynecological exams by penetrating them with his fingers.
SUGAR CAMP - Update Feb. 17, 2017 10:20 p.m. -- The woman who runs an Oneida County animal rescue could face animal mistreatment charges.
Oneida County Deputies booked Stephanie Schneider on Thursday. She is due in court on Feb. 27.
Last week, deputies removed 39 dogs from Schneider's "It Matters to One" in Sugar Camp and put them at the Oneida County Humane Society.
Police are recommending charges to the district attorney, which include failing to provide food and water, mistreating animals, and obstructing officers.
People who know Schneider say they can't believe this is happening.
"I'm just heartsick about this, and I'm sick at heart for her," said LynnAnn Thomas, a Sugar Camp resident who says she's friends with Stephanie Schneider.
"Those are her children. She would never, ever , ever mistreat them," Thomas said.
But that's exactly what police believe Schneider did. Last week they removed the dogs from the facility after a weeks-long investigation that was prompted by complaints and concerns from several people.
"People that had worked or volunteered there were concerned about the conditions that the dogs were in and the fact that they were not receiving food or water," said Oneida County Sheriff's Capt. Terri Hook.
Those accusations baffle Thomas.
"I been over there several times, it's always been meticulously clean, happy dogs," Thomas said.
Thomas believes whatever condition the dogs were in, they came to Schneider that way.
"She does get some really, really, really desperate cases, and I imagine that they take a long time to heal," Thomas said.
Thomas added she got her own dog from It Matters To One a few years ago.
"I got my little Hankey, he came in in really bad shape, and she wouldn't let me have him until he was nursed back to health," Thomas said.
Since the dogs were removed, It Matters to One posted certificates of veterinary inspections on its Facebook page for most of the 39 dogs. The Sheriff's Office has seen those and is including them in its investigation, which is ongoing and may not end soon.
"Just to ensure that all the dogs are healed and make sure they've received all the care they need," Hook said.
Newswatch 12 has reached out to It Matters to One and has been communicating with the rescue via email.
The state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection is helping the sheriff's office with its investigation and will decide if the rescue can keep its license.
Newswatch 12 also reached out to the veterinarian who conducted the inspections for the rescue, but has not yet heard back.
ONEIDA COUNTY - Once landfills run out of space, the county must decide where the garbage will go. At a meeting on Monday, it was announced that the Vilas County landfill has about 10 years left before it will have to find a new location to dispose of trash. Oneida County had a similar decision to make years ago.
Fifteen years ago, the Oneida County landfill was capped.
ONEIDA COUNTY - The Squash Lake Ice Association is holding its ice out contest again on Squash Lake.
The goal is to guess when the ice will melt, and when the giant loon will drop and float on the lake.
A special clock attached to the loon records the exact date and time it drops.
The winner gets to keep half of the money from ticket sales, and the other half will help fight watermilfoil on Squash Lake.
"It's been here since 2009. It was when it was first discovered. This year's point survey found no milfoil. What that means is we are doing a good and we want to keep that effort up," said Squash Lake Association board member Marj Mehring.
Mehring says the best way to see the loon up close on Squash Lake is to snowshoe, snowmobile, or ice fish.
You need to buy a ticket from Squash Lake's website to make a guess on when the loon will drop and float.
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