By JESSE HIRSCH - Daily Register
CAMBRIA - In a case Columbia County Detective Wayne Smith calls \"twisted and bizarre,\" a Sheboygan woman was arrested Tuesday night for stealing her
boyfriend's remains from the Cambria Cemetery over 10 years ago.
Michael Hendrickson died at the age of 27 in 1992 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hendrickson's family contacted law enforcement about three weeks ago because they received information his remains had been stolen.
An exhumation revealed Hendrickson's cremated remains were missing from the grave. Memorabilia such as beer and cigarettes that had been buried with him were also gone.
Detectives Smith and Jay Yerges then performed an extensive investigation, ultimately leading them to Karen Stolzmann, now 44.
The detectives executed a search warrant on Stolzmann's home with the assistance of the Sheboygan Police Department. The suspect was hiding.
\"She was in the shower, but she wasn't showering,\" Smith said.
Smith said the cremains, located in her garage, had \"identifiable things to make us believe they're (Hendrickson's).\"
Some of Hendrickson's memorabilia was also recovered. However, Smith believes Stolzmann drank the beer that was buried with the remains.
Stolzmann was arrested Tuesday night and later released, with a Nov. 15 return date.
She was not very cooperative during her interview, according to Yerges, but he believes he knows her motive.
Yerges said Stolzmann and Hendrickson were living together in the early 1990s, both married to other people. The relationship was stormy, with a pattern of alcohol and domestic abuse, according to Yerges.
When Hendrickson shot himself in January 1992, Stolzmann was present. Yerges said Hendrickson's family blamed her for his death and she was not invited to his cemetery services.
\"I feel that her motive was spite,\" Yerges said. \"If she has the cremains, that's her control over (Hendrickson's) family.\"
Yerges also believes emotional attachment was a factor in Stolzmann's actions.
Hendrickson's family, who reside in Cleveland, Wis., declined comment. However, Smith said they were happy to hear the remains were located.
\"They were pleased he was recovered,\" Smith said, \"but I imagine they were pretty shocked three weeks ago to find out he wasn't there.\"
Robbing graves is a felony offense, but authorities say the statute of limitations has passed for prosecution.
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe De Cecco said that charges have to be filed in felony cases within six years.
\"The rule is usually pretty hard and fast,\" De Cecco said. \"If you don't charge it, you lose it.\"
However, he thinks there may be a way to prosecute this case because no one knew the remains were missing until now.
\"Investigators need to be given a reasonable amount of knowledge that a crime has been committed,\" De Cecco said. \"Their ignorance could definitely be a factor.\"
For now, Stolzmann is only being charged with a misdemeanor count of concealing stolen property.
Smith said Stolzmann had a new boyfriend who assisted her in digging up Hendrickson's grave, but they were not able to charge him with anything.
\"I think it's a tragedy there isn't a crime (to charge them with) that doesn't expire here,\" Smith said. \"I know the family isn't happy about it.\"
Until prosecutors decide if other charges will be made, Hendrickson's remains will stay in evidence and his grave will remain empty. It is unknown if the family will bury them at the same site on the Hendrickson family plot.
\"I would tell them not to bury (Hendrickson) in the ground,\" De Cecco said. \"She'd probably go back and dig him up again.\"