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UPDATE: Real Estate Agent Murdered

By: Dana Brueck Email
By: Dana Brueck Email

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 -- 4:-0 p.m.

Her murder two years ago stunned people -- a local Realtor killed while showing a home!

Now, a renewed effort to remember this beloved woman's life rather than her death.

"I keep saying it's a book about Ann and from Ann... because the stories in between are papers that she saved," Donna Hutter says.

Ann Nelson was a Realtor ... a polka dancer... a woman of faith who made prayer shawls for the sick...

"Ann was the person who, when you said, 'aw gee, I think we just can't do that,' Ann was always the person who said we can do more," Hutter says.

The 71-year-old Cambridge woman also was a wife... remembered by her husband as truly a great "Lady in Blue" -- her favorite color.

She was a loving mother to six ...an attentive grandmother ...

"... She never missed a game... "

...and a dedicated friend.

"Every day or so, I get an order from someone."

After Nelson's murder in March of 2008 while she was showing a home, her longtime friend Donna Hutter decided to encourage others to write about Nelson's impact on their lives.

Then, Hutter began weaving into the collection of stories some of Nelson's passages she kept for herself.

"I guess the one I like the best is attitude ..."

"... We cannot change the inevitable... the only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude ..."

"I'm very proud she was my mom, but sometimes it was hard to share her... hahaha," Pam Cook says.

"My Friend Ann" is nearly 200 pages...some of those pages written by her first born, her daughter Pam Cook.

"It was very healing... but it wasn't easy," Cook says of writing her story.

Profits from sales of the book will go to Cambridge Elementary's reading program...where Nelson was well known.

"All of the kids called her Grandma Ann, whether they were her biological children or not."

Cook says those kinds of anecdotes inspire her, as she prepares to become a grandma.

She hopes they'll inspire readers too.

"It really shows you do touch lives in ways you'll never know."

The book costs $15.

If you'd like to purchase a copy, call Hutter at 608-423-3291.

James Hole, who killed Nelson, is serving a life sentence with no parole.

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UPDATED Monday, January 26, 2009 --- 4:55 p.m.

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) -- An Illinois man convicted of killing a real estate agent in Jefferson County will remain in prison for the rest of his life.

James Hole of Brookfield, Ill. pleaded no contest in November to first-degree intentional homicide. The 35-year-old was accused of killing 71-year-old Ann Nelson of Cambridge last March as she showed him a house.

The conviction carried an automatic sentence of life in prison.

Hole's defense attorney Jeff De La Rosa asked for parole in 30 years. County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Erwin denied parole, saying Hole has a long history of violent crime and could still be a risk in 30 years.

The criminal complaint says Hole admitted strangling Nelson, beating her with a fireplace poker, taking valuables from her purse and starting a fire in the house.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, January 26, 2009 --- 4:20 p.m.

From NBC15's Zac Schultz:

James Hole: life without parole.

He was emotionless as judge announced his sentence. The judge described him as anti-social, and doubted whether he could be rehabilitated in the 30 years his defense attorney recommended as a sentence; judge also said she has no confidence he will ever be safe in society.

In all, 16 people testified on behalf of Ann Nelson.

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UPDATED Sunday, January 25, 2009 --- 11:55 a.m.

CAMBRIDGE, Wis. (AP) — An Illinois man convicted of killing a real estate agent as she showed him a house last year is due to be sentenced Monday.

Thirty-five-year-old James Hole of Brookfield, Illinois, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Erwin will decide when, if ever, Hole would be eligible for release on extended supervision.

Hole pleaded no contest in November to first-degree intentional homicide. In return prosecutors dropped one arson and two burglary charges.

Investigators say Hole killed 71-year-old Ann Nelson of Cambridge last March. The criminal complaint says he admitted strangling Nelson, beating her with a fireplace poker, taking valuables from her purse and starting a fire in the house.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008 --- 12:30 p.m.

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) -- An Illinois suspect's statements to police will be admissible in court when he is tried next month on charges of killing a Cambridge real estate agent.

The ruling by a Jefferson County judge Tuesday means prosecutors can use at least three police interviews with the 35-year-old defendant, James Hole of Brookfield, Illinois.

He's accused of killing 71-year-old Ann Nelson when she showed him a house in March.

The criminal complaint says he admitted strangling and beating her and taking valuables from her purse. He's charged with first-degree intentional homicide, arson and burglary.

A message left for his defense attorney Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Hole's jury trial is set to begin Nov. 10.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted April 30, 2008 --- 6:00 p.m.

Co-workers of a murdered real estate agent are adjusting to life without her -- and a new way of doing business.

Ann Nelson's murder last month caused Realtors to think twice about their safety. Her small office was forced to make some big changes -- in how they operate and in how they manage without Ann's energy.

"You walk into the office, and her desk is there. She's still here in some ways," Kathy Zimmermann says.

Zimmermann says Ann Nelson will remain in the hearts of her co-workers forever.

"There's just too much left of her here," she says.

Nelson worked out of this Lake Mills Re/Max office for four years.
"Ann, she was the spark plug of the office and the grandma of the office," Barry Luce says.

... a woman remembered for her friendliness and enthusiasm for the job...

"When she got an accepted offer, she'd do the Ann Nelson victory dance to the office. She was just a wonderful, caring and giving person," Luce says.

The 71-year-old was killed in March while showing a vacant home near Cambridge.

"I wake up sometimes and think, out of all of the Realtors in the state of Wisconsin, how did this happen to one of ours," Luce says.

An Illinois man,James Hole, is charged with murder, arson and burglary in connection to the case.

"It's just so hard to understand how anybody could do this to somebody that was so innocent. She didn't deserve it," Zimmermann says.

While co-workers comforted each other after the murder, they also made some changes.

"You just don't up and run and do a showing at the last minute," Zimmermann says.

Barry Luce is co-owner of the realty. He expects agents to operate under the buddy system permanently.

"A lot of the agents are having a family member, husband, go to open house or sit with them or go to the showings. We used to meet our clients at a home. Now we ask them to come to the office first," Luce says.

Zimmermann also carries pepper spray... a tough reminder of a new reality... without a dear friend.

"You do all of these things.. whether you feel like it's necessary or not 'cause you never know," she says.

The office also has sought expert advice. Agents attended a safety demonstration by an officer at a meeting of the Jefferson County board of Realtors.

Hole, meanwhile, is preparing for trial.


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