Deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office along with officers from the Merrill Police Department have wrapped up a large investigation which cleared up several property crimes being investigated by both agencies.
The investigation began after the Merrill Police Department was notified of burglaries at the cattle barn and Brickyard school house at the fairgrounds. Officers learned forced entry was used to gain access to both buildings and over $7,000 worth of tools were stolen from a trailer inside of the barn.
Merrill Police then learned that one of the suspects was living in a home on Moritzville Avenue in the Town of Merrill. When they tried to seek a search warrant to check the home, officers found the home’s owner was listed as the United State Department of Housing and Urban Development. Research which began at the Sheriff’s Office led investigators to learn the home was foreclosed on in 2013 and sold at sheriff’s sale in early 2014. Deputies then learned that the actual owners had left and HUD, the original lien holder on the house, took over. Five people, a 20-year-old male, a 23-year-old female, a 27-year-old male, a 28-year-old female and a 32-year-old female, were squatting at the house for over a year.
When law enforcement officers served a search warrant on the home on May 12, the 32-year-old woman was arrested on warrant charges through Jefferson and Kenosha counties. She, along with the 20-year-old Merrill man, were identified as the burglary suspects. Deputies are seeking charges on all involved in the matter for criminal trespass to a dwelling. They are also seeking criminal charges in at least two property crimes that occurred in Lincoln County.
The 20-year-old man, who now lists an address in Tomahawk, remains jailed on a probation hold. He was charged in Lincoln County Court with two counts of burglary and felony theft. A Lincoln County Judge set a signature bond in that case.