Rhinelander police, Oneida County deputies combine forces to piece together burglary, arson casesSubmitted: 10/12/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Rhinelander police, Oneida County deputies combine forces to piece together burglary, arson cases
RHINELANDER - Images of a burned down cabin remind Oneida County Sergeant Tyler Young just how far some people will go to cover up a crime.

"It was kind of a growing theme for them of activity," Young said.

Fire destroyed the cabin on Crystal Lake Road in Pine Lake this spring.  Deputies first thought it was a lightning strike until a suspect from a different case started talking.

"When people have a conscience and they're relieving themselves of the guilt they have, they tend to be like a confessional at times," Young said.

Young arrested 19-year-old Nicholas Wilmot on Monday after running a wanted person's check on him and  investigators built a complete case. But Wilmot had been talking about the cabin and some crimes from within city limits months earlier.

Rhinelander police started investigating storage unit break-ins on the city's north side at Beloff Storage in June.  Police say locks were cut and items like fishing gear were taken. 

Officer Chad Brown and Detective Josh Chiamulera used evidence at the scene and security camera footage to track down Wilmot.

Initial conversations with Wilmot and police happened in June, when police told him he wasn't under arrest and were just looking for information.

"They knew what they were doing. This wasn't just a crime of opportunity. You have to plan something like this," Brown said.

Wilmot showed police where he was keeping some stolen items -- including a boat, motor, and trailer -- at a property on Flowage Road. Wilmot then also started talking about the cabin. The suspect said he, 20-year-old Alex Volzka, and 18-year-old Keanu Sneller went to the cabin, smashed plates and windows, then burned it down with kerosene.

The criminal complaint says, "Wilmot's information was descriptive enough to provide details in which only a person who had been at the scene would have known, but his accounts and details when it came to his and the other actor's individual actions remained somewhat vague."

"To go to that level [of burning a building down to cover evidence] that quick at that early of an age, that's concerning," Brown said.

Police then built their case against the three. Sheriff's Deputy James Adams interviewed Wilmot in July after the 19-year-old was arrested on an unrelated case. During that interview, Wilmot "confirmed that he, Alex James Volzka, and Keanu Sneller were at the cabin," the criminal complaint says.

Wilmot got out of jail, then disappeared for several months. Police told Newswatch 12 on Thursday that Wilmot likely went to North or South Dakota for work before returning to the area this fall.

In the meantime, police interviewed Wilmot's mother. She told police Volzka asked her to cash a check from "The Bait Shoppe" in Rhinelander for him. The mother "stated she thought it was odd that he was asking her to cash his check and refused to do so," according to the complaint.

Records also showed Sneller pawned a heater that was stolen from the destroyed cabin at Hodag Gun and Loan. Police say that connected Sneller to the arson case.

"Once somebody does something and gets away with it, they tend to be more repetitive with it until they get caught," Young said.

Wilmot told police he and Sneller smashed dishes and windows at the Pine Lake cabin, left the property, then returned later with Volzka. Wilmot says Volzka wanted to start the fire, noting their fingerprints were all over the cabin.

Now, thanks to police work across two agencies, a string of burglaries and an arson appear to be solved.

"It's a daily occurrence that we're having contact with [police] officers because the people that are committing crimes in the city a lot of times are committing crimes in the county and vice versa," Young said.

"I'm glad we were able to stop that trend that they were going down and hopefully future behavior," Brown said. "We're a brotherhood is what we are. We all wear different colored uniforms, but we all have the same goal."

The trio of suspects all face burglary, theft, or trespassing charges. Only Volzka faces an arson charge, based on the evidence police have at this time.

Volzka faces a combined 56 years in prison, Sneller faces 7 1/2 years in prison, and Wilmot faces more than 16 years in prison. All three are due back in court later this fall.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

RHINELANDER - Though the Packers lost against the Lions Sunday, some fans could see a silver lining.

Sunday was Quarterback Aaron Rodgers first game back after a collarbone injury caused him to miss the past seven games.

+ Read More

CRESCENT - Some people decided to bring their snowmobiles and ATV's out on the ice a little too early this season.
One man had to recover two of those vehicles after they sunk in lakes.
Tom Quandt own Bull Dog Off Road Removal. He got his first recovery call of the season Saturday, and a second Sunday.
He says getting two calls in two days is abnormal and that it's too early to bring vehicles out on water.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Shop with a Cop allows community kids to get to know some first responders on a more personal level. 19 kids got the chance to do just that during this weekend's event.

The third graders are selected based on if they have a financial need, have good behavior in school, or if they have possibly met first responders in a serious situation before.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - A dance group in Tomahawk gets a second opportunity to show thousands of people what small town dancers can do. The Tomahawk Dance Team will perform at the Liberty Bowl half time show in Memphis In two weeks.
"We get to go out with a bang," said 17- year- old dancer Emma Gane.
At the end of the year seniors Emma Gane and Morgan Dischen will walk away from the dance team that brought them together four years ago.

"It's emotional to think about how fast things have gone," said Dischen.
However, first they'll step on stage in front of more than 60 thousand people.
"It's taking girls from this small town and putting them on this national platform," said Tomahawk Dance Team Coach Marina Olson. 

On December 30 the 11 girls on the Tomahawk Dance team will perform during the Liberty Bowl Halftime Show in Memphis Tennessee.
"It's just going to be different from our everyday small town life," said first year dance team member Semra Marquardt.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - It only takes a couple seconds to drop in some spare change or a couple dollars into a Salvation Army Red Kettle during the holiday season. One person, in those couple seconds, managed to make a big impact on Merrill's Salvation Army with their donation.

"It was unbelievable," said Salvation Army bell ringer volunteer Denise Ziech.

Ziech had just heard the good news.

+ Read More

MADISON - A drug distributor from California hoped to flood northern Wisconsin with meth to create more addicts.  Now, Marcos Castaneda faces life in federal prison.

Castaneda, 37, pleaded guilty in federal court in Madison for providing nearly $6 million of meth between 2013 and 2016.

+ Read More
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 12/15/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Olson Memorial Library in Eagle River held a grand RE-opening that shows patience and perseverance pays off. We talk to the Library Foundation president and vice-president as well as Governor Scott Walker who attended the event.

We'll show you a half-court basketball shot a Rhinelander eighth-grader made that won money for him and raised money the Rhinelander Area Scholarship Foundation.

And tonight on Friday Night Blitz we'll bring you scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following basketball games:

Phelps vs. Laona Wabeno (Boys and Girls)

Rhinelander vs. Northland Pines (Boys and Girls)

Elcho vs. Crandon (Boys)

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you all this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here