A Necedah man and his son are facing felony false imprisonment charges after they allegedly repeatedly locked the man’s wife in a trailer with a padlock on the door, no food or water, and with more than 20 dogs.
John Babcock, 50, of Necedah is charged with felony false imprisonment as a party to a crime. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Matthew Babcock, 30, of Necedah is charged with felonies false imprisonment as a party to a crime and three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. If convicted he faces up to six years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for the false imprisonment charge and up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each of the firearm charges.
According to the criminal complaint:
At about 4:49 p.m. Aug. 11, The Juneau County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a cow tied up in the yard of a trailer in Necedah. The caller stated the cow appeared neglected, was very skinny and was unable to reach grass or water.
Deputy Justin Wegmueller was dispatched to the residence, where he located the cow chained up with no shelter or water. He also observed four dogs running loose.
Wegmueller made contact with a woman at the residence who was unable to open the door due to a padlock outside of the door. Wegmueller removed the padlock and she was able to open the door, after which several dogs ran out of the residence and he could see piles of feces inside the door. The victim refused to let Wegmueller into the residence.
Detective Ben Goehring responded to the scene as the on-call detective. Upon arrival, he saw some of the dogs eating garbage lying in the yard. He noticed several windows of the residence were covered with aluminum siding and the back door was boarded up with plywood.
After being evaluated by EMS, the victim was transported to the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office, where she spoke with Goehring. The victim appeared skinny and malnourished and was given food from the jail.
According to the victim, she was kept in the trailer with several animals and was not allowed to leave, sometimes for up to a full day. The victim estimated there were about 15 dogs in the residence, including eight puppies. There is no running water in the trailer and she was unable to bathe.
The victim said she did not wish to be locked inside the residence, but was locked in the trailer for 3-4 days each week. She was locked in by her husband, John Babcock, and her son, Matthew Babcock frequently over the previous year. While locked in the residence, she was unable to exit due to being locked inside, and if there was an emergency she would be trapped in the residence.
After the interview, Goehring went to the residence and waited for a search warrant. While waiting, John and Matthew Babcock arrived at the trailer where they were advised as to the reason for the police presence. Both agreed to go to the Sheriff’s Office to speak.
John Babcock, in an interview, said he had adequate food for the animals at the property, as well as adequate food and sanitation facilities for himself and his family including running water. After being notified that investigators confirmed there was no running water at the residence, John Babcock became upset and admitted there was no running water, but said there was a water well outside the residence.
Asked about leaving his wife locked in the residence, he admitted to doing so and said he was aware she was unable to exit when he padlocked the door. He further admitted to placing boards over the other door to prevent her and the animals from leaving.
According to John Babcock, he made the alterations to the residence to prevent his wife from letting the animals out “as she could not keep the animals under control.” He stated they had multiple complaints about the animals, and he locked her with the animals within the home to prevent further complaints.
Matthew Babcock, in an interview, admitted he and his father would lock the victim inside the residence when they leave and stated it was done as an attempt to stop the dogs from exiting. He further stated that if the victim leaves the residence she would sit in the front yard, which “concerns him” due to her physical ailments, exposing her to extreme heat or other dangerous conditions. Matthew Babcock confirmed there were no other exits to the trailer due to the alterations he and his father made to the residence, and that the victim’s physical condition would render her unable to leave the residence in an emergency.
While Goehring was interviewing John and Matthew Babcock, a search was conducted at the residence pursuant to a search warrant.
No operational plumbing was at the home that could supply water to the victim or the animals, and the home was determined to be “in a state of disrepair and uncleanliness not suitable to habitation.”
Investigators counted 21 dogs at the home, with no unspoiled food for either the animals or human occupants to eat. Many of the animals were malnourished.
Three firearms were located, which included a long rifle and two shotguns. The firearms were not secure and would have been available to all residents of the home.
Matthew Babcock has a previous conviction for first degree sexual assault of a child, a felony. While being interviewed he admitted to being aware of the firearms but stated they belonged to John Babcock.
Both John and Matthew Babcock are scheduled for plea hearings Jan. 5, 2021 at the Juneau County Justice Center.
Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.
Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter
Get the latest in local public safety news with this weekly email.