A murdered Lac du Flambeau man apparently knew he was riding to his death the morning he disappeared. Wayne Valliere Junior's body was found near Mercer on New Year's Day.
An investigation took the next five weeks, with some reports saying suspects were upset about stolen drugs, while others thought Valliere was a police informant. It all led up to homicide charges against five Northwoods men, announced Wednesday.
Richard Allen, Joseph Lussier, James Lussier, Curtis Wolfe, and Evan Oungst all face first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse felonies in Iron County Court.
In the criminal complaint, an inmate in the Vilas County Jail said Joseph Lussier told him Lussier was at a party with Valliere and Allen late on December 21st. During that party, Valliere told Allen he was supposed to set up Allen and several other people as a confidential informant.
The criminal complaint says Allen "was going to slump Wayne right there and... displayed a handgun" but Lussier talked him out of doing it at the party.
Instead, the five suspects and Valliere got into a red minivan and went for a ride.
Surveillance video showed the minivan stopping at an Arbor Vitae gas station at 3:20 a.m. December 22nd.
Another witness, who prosecutors say is one of Allen's cousins, relayed Richard Allen's version of the story. Allen told the witness he was "flashing the gun the whole way out" in the van and that "Wayne knew all along he was going to die."
The complaint has conflicting reports on what exactly happened next. Witnesses agree the suspects took Valliere to a remote part of Iron County west of Mercer, then someone beat him up. One witness says all five suspects got out of the van, while Curtis Wolfe told police only Allen beat Valliere.
Several witnesses said Allen then shot Valliere in the face. Two other witnesses said Joseph Lussier also shot Valliere several more times in the back.
Ten days later on Jan. 1, Evan Oungst led Lac du Flambeau's police chief to where he helped hide the body off Swamp Creek Road. There, police found 9 mm shell casings, bloody snow, and a rear sight from a handgun near the body.
Officers later found the gun hidden in someone's home. The casings matched the handgun, as did the missing sight.
A forensic pathologist found eight bullet wounds in Valliere: two to his head and neck, and six others to his backside.
Police arrested the five suspects January 3rd.
All five suspects face life in prison if convicted. Two assistant attorneys general will handle prosecution on the case.
No future court dates have been set yet.
Five men will face murder-related charges in Iron County in the December death of 25-year-old Wayne Valliere, Jr., a Lac du Flambeau man.
Richard Allen, 27, Joseph Lussier, 26, James Lussier, 19, Curtis Wolfe, 26, and Evan Oungst, 27 each face identical charges. Those charges are conspiracy to commit first degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.
A criminal complaint released Wednesday details statements from witnesses, who said Allen and Joseph Lussier shot Valliere on December 22 in the Town of Mercer. The complaint says all five defendants were present for Valliere's beating, shooting, and hiding of his corpse on an unpaved country road in Mercer.
A family member reported Valliere missing on Christmas Day, which triggered a police investigation. During the investigation, an inmate at the Vilas County Jail told police about a conversation he had had with Joseph Lussier. Lussier said he was at a party with Allen and Valliere. At that party, Valliere told Lussier he was supposed to "set up" Allen and others. In that scenario, Valliere would have been acting a confidential informant.
Multiple witnesses told police Valliere then joined the defendants and various other people in a minivan, which made several stops in the Northwoods before heading to the Mercer area.
When the minivan arrived, Valliere suffered a beating before being shot by Allen and Joseph Lussier, Wolfe told police.
On New Year's Day, Oungst led Lac du Flambeau Police Chief Bob Brandenburg to Valliere's body in the Mercer woods. Brandenburg found the body behind a berm hidden from the nearest road, Swamp Creek Road, in an unpopulated area.
UW Hospital forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Stier ruled Valliere's death a homicide by multiple gunshot wounds. Stier found eight gunshot wounds in Valliere's body.
On Monday, Oungst was charged with aiding a felon and obstructing an officer in Vilas County Court, in addition to Wednesday's charges.
Click the link below to read the criminal complaint against the five defendants. Newswatch 12 has redacted the names of witnesses not facing charges in the case.
-Newswatch 12's Ben Meyer and Katie Thoresen contributed to this report.