UPDATE: Man Appears in Court in Double Homicide at Photography Store

UPDATED: Thursday, October 25, 2012 --- 4:40p.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- A Minnesota man was silent as he appeared in a Wisconsin court on charges he killed a photography store owner and his son.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota made his preliminary appearance Thursday. Lepsch is charged in the Sept. 15 shooting deaths of 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J., at May's Photo in downtown La Crosse.

A judge entered a not guilty plea on Lepsch's behalf to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery with use of force and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities say they recovered 14 items stolen from the camera shop at Lepsch's house during a search Oct. 10.

Lepsch denies involvement in the deaths.

The La Crosse Tribune (http://bit.ly/VJU6DY) reports Lepsch remains jailed on a $2 million cash bond.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, October 18, 2012 --- 1:45 p.m.

WINONA, Minn. (AP) -- A Minnesota man charged with killing a father and son at their La Crosse photography store will return to Wisconsin to face homicide and robbery charges.

Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota agreed to waive extradition from Minnesota during a brief hearing Thursday in Winona County District Court.

The Winona Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/R36WH1 ) the 38-year-old remains in the Winona County Jail on a $10 million cash bond as authorities arrange his transport to La Crosse County.

Investigators believe Lepsch walked into the downtown La Crosse shop Sept. 15 and killed 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. Petras.

Authorities say they recovered 14 items stolen from the shop at Lepsch's house during a search Oct. 10. Lepsch, a hobby photographer, was arrested that day and denies involvement in the deaths.

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Information from: Winona Daily News, http://www.winonadailynews.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Thursday, October 11, 2012 --- 5:04p.m.

(AP) -- Bail is set at $10 million for a Minnesota man charged with killing a father and son at their La Crosse photography store.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch, of Dakota, Minn., appeared Thursday in Winona County court in Minnesota. Lepsch could have waived extradition to Wisconsin, but asked to appear with an attorney.

The judge appointed a public defender and set the next court appearance for Oct. 18.

Investigators believe Lepsch walked into the downtown La Crosse shop on Sept. 15 and killed 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. Petras. Police say Lepsch stole $16,000 in camera equipment

Lepsch remains in the Winona County Jail.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, October 11, 2012 --- 10:56 a.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Police say a Minnesota man charged with killing a father and son at their La Crosse photography store stole $16,000 in camera equipment.

Prosecutors have charged 39-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minn., with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. They were found shot to death in the family's downtown photography shop on Sept. 15.

Lepsch also faces one count of armed robbery and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Police Chief Ron Tischer told reporters during a news conference on Thursday surveillance video shows Lepsch entering and leaving the shop in a blue van.

Investigators traced the van to Lepsch's home, where they recovered 14 pieces of camera equipment from the Petras' shop.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, October 11, 2012 --- 7:10 a.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- A Minnesota man charged in the shootings deaths of a father and son at their photography store in La Crosse is expected in court for an extradition hearing.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch, of Dakota, Minn., was arrested Wednesday near his home. He' expected to appear in Winona County District Court Thursday.

Lepsch is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. They were fatally shot at the family's camera shop in La Crosse on Sept. 15.

The La Crosse Tribune (http://tinyurl.com/9d2d5qh ) says Lepsch served jail time for a felony theft conviction. He admitted stealing about $8,000 worth of merchandise in 2003 when he worked in loss prevention at Ace Hardware's distribution center on French Island.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 --- 6:00p.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested a Minnesota man in the shooting deaths of a father and son in their La Crosse photography store last month.

La Crosse Police Chief Ronald Tischer says 39-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minn., was arrested Wednesday near his home.

Online court records say Lepsch is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. A defense attorney is not listed.

Fifty-six-year-old store owner Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. Petras were found shot to death Sept. 15 inside May's Photo in downtown La Crosse.

Lepsch is in the Winona County Jail in Minnesota. Police plan to release more information at a news conference Thursday.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, September 17, 2012 --- 8:36 p.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- La Crosse police have made no arrests but say there is no immediate threat to public safety after a father and son were shot to death inside their downtown photography store.

Fifty-six-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. Petras, were found shot to death Saturday afternoon inside May's Photo. Police say the shooting likely occurred sometime after the store closed at 2 p.m.

Police revealed Monday that Paul Petras' wife discovered their bodies when he did not return home from work.

Police say the killings appear to be "an isolated incident directed to this particular business" and are not connected to any of the city's other killings this year.

The La Crosse Tribune reports a memorial service is scheduled Friday at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in La Crosse.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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Posted Sunday, September 16, 2012 --- 12:55 p.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- La Crosse police are investigating who shot to death a father and son in a photography store.

Capt. Robert Lawrence says the homicides occurred about 2 p.m. Saturday, roughly the same time a photography class at May's Photo ends and the store closes.

The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/Oyo8qU ) family members identified the victims as 56-year-old store owner Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. Petras.

Lawrence said Saturday police had made no arrests and no one immediately returned a call from The Associated Press Sunday for an update.

According to newspaper archives, Paul Petras ran the shop started by his father. They formerly had a store in Winona, Minn.

AJ Petras was a 2011 graduate of Aquinas High School and a member of the ski team.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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NEWS RELEASE FROM LA CROSS POLICE DEPT:

On Saturday, September 15, 2012 shortly after 5:00pm officers of the La Crosse Police Department responded to May’s Photo at 425 Main St. reference a deceased person.

Our responding officers found a crime scene and two (2) persons who had died as a result of gunshot wounds. The victims are identified as May’s Photo owner and his son who was also employed at the business.

The Victims are:
1. Store owner Paul A. Petras - 56 years old (of La Crosse)
2. Andrew (AJ) Petras – 19 years old (of La Crosse)

The investigation has continued throughout the night by many members of the La Crosse Police Department, the WI Division of Criminal Investigation, the La Crosse District Attorney’s Office, the WI State Crime Lab, the WI State Patrol and the La Crosse County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The crime scene remains closed as well as the entire 400 block of Main St. and will remain closed until forensic analysis is completed later this afternoon or evening.

This is an ongoing investigation employing many resources, but we need the public’s help and ask for citizens to come forward and provide information they would have in reference to this crime. This incident occurred sometime after 2:00pm inside May’s Photo, so anyone who was in the area of 400 Main St. between 1:30pm and 5:15pm and observed anything out of the ordinary, any suspicious person or persons, vehicle(s), anyone leaving the area in a hurry, please contact the La Crosse Police Department at (608) 785-5962.

**The La Crosse Police Department would also ask that any person who attended the May’s Photo classroom session that ended at approximately 2:00pm on Saturday, September 15th to contact the La Crosse Police Department immediately. You may have pertinent information that would help to solve this case.

We will be releasing information as it becomes available, and as long as it does not jeopardize the integrity of this investigation.


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