UPDATE: Portage Torture

By: Zac Schultz Email
By: Zac Schultz Email

UPDATED Friday, May 9 --- 8:00am

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A woman's statements to police investigating a torture and death case in Portage may be used at her murder trial.

Circuit Judge Alan White says his review shows Candace Clark wasn't impaired by a lack of sleep, food or medication, and the questioning by a Portage detective was proper.

White's eight-page decision denied Clark's motion seeking to rule out the use of those statements when she goes on trial July 7.

Charges against the 24-year-old Clark and 26-year-old Michael Sisk include first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse and child abuse.

Clark contended at a motions hearing last week that she was confused from a lack of diabetes medication, food and water when she gave statements to police after her arrest.


UPDATE Posted Tuesday, April 29 --- 8:20am
UPDATE Posted Monday, April 28 --- 5:55pm

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A woman charged in a torture-murder case that left a boy severely injured and his mother dead says she was confused from a lack of diabetes medication, food and water when she told Portage police about what happened to the victims.

Twenty-four-year-old Candace Clark testified at a motions hearing today in Columbia County Circuit Court. She says she had not understood she had a right to speak with a lawyer, and that what she said during those initial interviews with police could be held against her at trial.

Judge Alan White plans to listen to recordings of the three interviews before deciding whether Clark's statements can be used during her jury trial scheduled in July.

Clark and 26-year-old Michael Sisk are charged in the death last June of Tammie Garlin and the abuse and torture of Garlin's son, who was 11 at the time. Another woman has pleaded no contest to various charges in a plea deal, and Garlin's teenage daughter is being prosecuted as a juvenile.

Authorities say the two led a crew that traveled the country using false names and stolen identities to run financial scams.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved


UPDATED: Friday --- March 14, 2008 --- 11:00am

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A judge has granted separate trials for the leaders of a gang of drifters accused of torturing an 11-year-old boy and killing his mother.

26 year-old Michael Sisk and his 24-year-old girlfriend, Candace Clark, each face multiple charges that include being a party to first-degree intentional homicide, child abuse and false imprisonment.

Investigators say Sisk and Clark led a band of scam artists across the country.

Police discovered an 11-year-old boy locked in a closet with burns all over his body in a home the group rented in Portage. Officers also found the body of the boy's mother, Tammie Garlin, buried in a shallow grave behind the house.



Updated Friday --- February 29, 2008 -- 6:45pm

Portage: One of the people accused of torturing a boy and killing his mother in Portage last summer pleaded no contest to 4 charges Friday.

Her lawyer says she was involved in torturing the boy, but not to the extent two others were.

Michaela Clerc showed no emotion at her plea hearing Friday in Columbia County Court.

Clerc is one of three adults facing charges for the scene discovered in Portage last June.

Clerc and two others are accused of torturing an 11 year old boy by pouring boiling water on him, whipping him with an electrical cord, starving him and locking him naked in a closet.

Michael Sisk and Candace Clark are charged with that and also for murdering the boy's mother Tammie Garlin, and burying her body in the backyard.

Clerc pleaded no contest to being a party to mayhem for cutting or mutilating the boy, physical abuse of a child, causing mental harm to a child and false imprisonment.

Five other charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal, but the judge can consider them when he determines Clerc's sentence.

"I think the charges accurately reflect her actual conduct in this case," says Mark Frank, Clerc's lawyer. He says the sentence will determine if this was a good deal. "We're optimistic she'll receive some prison sentence which reasonably reflects her involvement in these cases."

District Attorney Jane Kohlwey is free to argue for the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. She says a pre-sentence investigation will show more of what Clerc did. "We are developing over time a clearer and clearer story of what actually happened at 304 Oneida St. We believe Ms. Clerc was intricately involved with this part of this horrible saga."

Michael Sisk and Candace Clark, are still headed towards a trial. They've asked to be tried separately and have their trials moved out of Columbia County. Kohlwey says she's not opposed to trying them separately, but still wants them tried here.

The judge will rule on those motions by this spring.

Friday's deal does not obligate Clerc to testify if Sisk or Clark go to trial, but her lawyer says she would most likely cooperate.


Updated Thursday --- February 28, 2008 --- 5:30pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A member of a gang of drifters accused of torturing a boy in Portage has reached a plea deal with prosecutors to resolve her case.

Attorney Mark Frank says 21-year-old Michaela Clerc will plead no contest on Friday to being a party to false imprisonment, mayhem, causing mental harm to a child and physical child abuse.

Frank says prosecutors have agreed to drop five other counts against his client, including being a party to battery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and obstructing an officer.

Prosecutors initially charged Clerc with helping the gang kill the boy's mother and burying her in the backyard of their rental house. But they dropped those counts in November.



Posted Monday --- November 19, 2007 -- 4:45pm

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A judge has ordered a trial for the leader of a gang of drifters and his girlfriend, who are charged with murdering another member of the group.

Judge Alan White ordered a trial for 25-year-old Michael Sisk and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Candace Clark. They are charged with murder in the death of 36-year-old Tammie Garlin. Her body was found buried behind their Portage apartment in June.

The couple also is accused of torturing Garlin's then 11-year-old son, who was found locked in a closet.

Prosecutors have dropped a murder charge against another member of the group, 21-year-old Michaela Clerc. She still faces a number of charges, as does Garlin's 16-year-old daughter, whose case has been moved to juvenile court.



Posted Monday --- November 19, 2007 -- 11:02am

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A pediatrician testified Monday the 11 year-old boy found tortured at a Portage house was the most beaten child she's ever seen that was still living.

Barbara Knox from UW Children's Hospital says the boy was in grave condition when he arrived at the emergency room June 14th.

Knox says he was "profoundly malnourished" and had pneumonia. He had burns, bruises and scars all over his body. The pediatrician testified that the boy looked like a "concentration camp survivor." Several of his finger tips and three toes had to be amputated because they were burned so badly.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing for Candace Clark and Michael Sisk. They're accused of torturing the boy, killing his mother and burying her in the backyard of the house they were renting in Portage.

Prosecutors Monday dropped a charge of party to murder and hiding a corpse against Michaela Clerc. She agreed to waive her preliminary hearing. She still faces other charges.

A Columbia County judge will decide whether there's enough evidence against Clark and Sisk to hold them for trial.

The boy's sister is also accused in the crimes, but will face charges in juvenile court.



Posted Wednesday --- November 14, 2007

A teen charged in the Portage murder and child abuse case will not be tried as an adult.

The girl was 15 years old last summer.

Wednesday, the Columbia County District attorney confirmed they will dismiss all charges for the girl in adult court.

She is accused of helping three adults kill and bury her mother.

The group also allegedly tortured her 11 year-old brother at a rental home in Portage.


Posted Tuesday --- November 13, 2007

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- An attorney for the 16-year-old girl accused of helping kill her mother and torture her brother says the teen's case may be moved to juvenile court.

Public defenders say they're negotiating with prosecutors to end adult proceedings for Felicia Garlin before her preliminary hearing early next week.

The defense had filed a motion to dismiss the most serious charges against Garlin, in order to push the case to juvenile court. A Columbia County judge was scheduled to take up the motion Monday, but public defenders withdrew it because of negotiations.

Garlin was 15 when she was accused of helping three adults kill and bury her mother and torture her 11-year-old brother at a rental home in Portage last summer.

23 year-old Candace Clark, 21 year-old Michaela Clerc and 25 year-old Michael Sisk are the adults accused in the crimes.



Posted Tuesday --- November 6, 2007 -- 5:17pm

4 suspects in a horrific child abuse and murder case out of Portage appeared before a judge on Tuesday to determine whether the boy at the center of the case will testify in-person at a preliminary hearing in about two weeks.

We're learning more about the boy. In October, he turned 12-years-old. He's attending school at the 5th grade level, though he reads and writes somewhere between 1st and 4th grade.

Physically, he's doing better since he was found at the home, but he suffers from serious mental health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder. His problems were among the reasons, the judge said, a videotaped interview will serve as his testimony in court later this month.

A Columbia County social worker was one of two people called to testify by the state. Attorneys for the four defendants called no witnesses.

The social worker testified the boy is confused about whether his behavior caused harm to his mother or if he could've helped her.

Recall, the boy's mother Tammie Garlin was found buried behind the defendants' home on Oneida Street. Her daughter, Felicia, as well as Candace Clark, Michaela Clerc and Michael Sisk all faces charges in connection with her murder.

A detective lieutenant with Portage Police videotaped the interview with the boy in June while he was being treated at UW Hospital.

The state argued against the boy testifying in-person at an upcoming preliminary hearing, saying it would re-victimize him.

Much of the defense attorneys cross examination had to do with whether the boy was medicated and how heavily during the interview in his hospital bed. They also discussed some inconsistent statements regarding alleged abuse by his mother, and whether he knew the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie.

But, ultimately the judge ruled the tape will serve as testimony. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 19th.


Posted Tuesday --- October 16, 2007 -- 5:16pm

The 16-year-old Portage girl accused of helping to kill and bury her mother and torture her 11-year-old brother in June appeared in court Tuesday.

Felecia Garlin's lawyer asked a Columbia County judge to allow the 16 year old to appear in preliminary court proceedings wearing street clothes.

Garlin is accused along with 3 others of killing and burying her mother behind a Portage home.

Her 11 year old brother was found inside of a closet where he had been tortured and starved for several months.


Report Posted --- July 20, 2007

All four suspects charged in a child abuse murder investigation in Portage will appear in court Friday.

23-year-old Candace Clark, 25 year old Michael Sisk, 20 year old Micaela Clerc and 15-year-old Felicia Garlin ... are all charged in connection with the murder of Tammie Garlin and abusing her 11-year-old son.

Garlin was found buried in the backyard of the suspect's home last month.

Police also found her son in a closet, severely burned and malnourished.

The four face a total of 43 counts in connection with the case.


A 15-year-old girl and three adults are charged with murdering the girl's mother and torturing her 11-year-old brother.

4 people face a total of 43 counts ... ranging from obstructing an officer, to child abuse and murder. There are so many people involved, so here is a synopsis of the individuals and their relationships.

Last week, investigators discovered the body of Tammie Garlin buried in a backyard in Portage. Her 11-year old son was found in a closet, severely burned and abused.

Four people are charged with Tammie Garlin's murder, including her 15-year old daughter, Felicia, and Garlin's partner, Michaela Clerc. Police believe Clerc was angry because she thought Tammie cheated on her.
The two others charged are Michael Sisk and Candace Clark who are boyfriend/girlfriend. Clark does have 3 children, including a 2-year old girl whom she allegedly kidnapped from a foster home in Florida.
Police learned about this entire story when they went searching for that child.

All four suspects made their first court appearance Wednesday and more details about how the crimes were carried out were released in a criminal complaint. The abuse initially started with the 11 year old boy. His 15 year old sister, his own mother, and three other adults he lived with were his alleged abusers.

We want to warn you, some of these new details may be disturbing and are not suited for small children.

Police say it all happened behind closed doors in a Portage home. An 11 year old boy was doused in scalding hot or boiling water. He was whipped with an extension cord, kicked, choked and forced to drink so much water he would pass out. Columbia county district attorney, Jane Kohlwey says the boy, "was placed into confined, small areas within the household and that would certainly tend to cause mental harm. He was also forced to go into the bathroom and then into the tub to have the scalding water placed on him."

The criminal complaint says the abuse went on over the course of a few months. The boy was tortured at least 10 times and had to be carried from the home because his feet were so badly burned he couldn't walk. Portage police detective Mark Hahn says seeing the child is difficult. "It's tough when you see any child that has to go through abuse like that, that he's gone through," explained Hahn.

At first, the boy's mother, Tammie Garlin, was one of the abusers. However, a criminal complaint says she soon became a victim too. It alleges she also became part of the scalding water abuse, but it didn't end there. The criminal complaint says Michael Sisk hit Tammie Garlin over the head with a folding chair causing two large cuts. The complaint says Michaela Clerc used a sewing needle and thread to close up Garlin's wounds. "There were sutured lacerations and as the complaint states, they certainly weren't done by any medical professional. They appeared to be very primitive," said Columbia County Medical Examiner Marc Playman.

The complaint says when Garlin became too sick and weak to walk she was kicked and hit by the teen and other adults in the household eventually she was strangled.

Garlin's 15 year old daughter is accused of taking part in the abuse and the murder of her mother. The criminal complaint says she helped get her mother out of the home, into the car trunk, and then later helped bury her mother in the backyard.

The teen and 3 other adults are charged with murder. In addition, the three adults are charged with an additional count of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

They are all charged with five counts related to the 11-year old boy.

Those counts include abuse, false imprisonment and "mayhem" -- which is severe abuse to the head, feet, and hands.

Felicia Garlin and Michaela Clerc are being held on bond. Both Candice Clark and Michael Sisk were denied bail.

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