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State’s longest-serving prisoner, sentenced in brutal Wausau murder, is up for parole in July

Terry Caspersen DOC booking photo from 2019 and Wausau Daily Herald article photo of Caspersen...
Terry Caspersen DOC booking photo from 2019 and Wausau Daily Herald article photo of Caspersen from May 12, 1964(DOC/Marathon County Historical Society)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 9:28 AM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The man serving a life sentence for the 1964 murder of a Wausau woman is up for parole in July. Terry Caspersen, now 78, is the state’s longest-serving inmate. He has spent nearly 56 years in custody.

This Department of Corrections info chart shows the state's top five longest-serving inmates.
This Department of Corrections info chart shows the state's top five longest-serving inmates.(Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections)

Caspersen is serving a life sentence for fatally stabbing Eleanor Kaatz, 18. The stabbing occurred May 11, 1964 on Barker-Stewart Island in Wausau. Wausau Daily Herald articles provided to NewsChannel 7 by the Marathon County Historical Society cite police reports indicating Kaatz was stabbed nearly 50 times. She was initially found alive near the Wisconsin River, but died of her injuries two days later.

Caspersen was arrested the day after the stabbing and initially pleaded insanity. He was convicted and later sentenced to life in September of that year. Media reports at the time painted a picture of a troubled young man who admitted to setting 200 fires in Duluth. At his sentencing, Kaatz’s own parents said they felt sorry for him and his family.

He would then serve 17 years before he was paroled in September 1981. While on parole, investigators said he threatened a Rhinelander woman with sexual assault and death, and cut her throat before police arrested him. In April 1982, he was sentenced to 57 years and ordered to register as a sex offender. Since the crime was committed while he was on parole, his life sentence resumed.

A spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections said Caspersen’s parole eligibility date is July 13. He will be seen for his next parole review in May. An exact date will be scheduled in April.

Oliver Buchino of the Wisconsin Parole Commission said only if all requirements for a grant are satisfied may the commissioner recommend a parole grant to the chair. “An eligibility date for release would only be set if parole is granted,” he said by email.

Wisconsin Statute 973.014 governs parole eligibility for inmates who received life sentences between July 1, 1988 and Dec. 31, 1999. Inmates who were sentenced for offenses that occurred prior to the effective date of the Truth-in-Sentencing law on Dec. 31, 1999 are eligible for parole.

Once the inmate has served the minimum required portion of their sentence, they begin having parole hearings with the Parole Commission.

Caspersen remains in the Dodge Correctional Facility.

Wausau Daily Herald article from May 12, 1964
Wausau Daily Herald article from May 12, 1964(Marathon County Historical Society)
Wausau Daily Herald article May 29, 1964
Wausau Daily Herald article May 29, 1964(Marathon County Historical Society)
Wausau Daily Herald notice from April 12, 1972
Wausau Daily Herald notice from April 12, 1972(Marathon County Jail)
Wausau Daily Herald article April 2, 1982
Wausau Daily Herald article April 2, 1982(Marathon County Historical Society)
Wausau Daily Herald article from May 18, 1964
Wausau Daily Herald article from May 18, 1964(Marathon County Historical Society)
Wausau Daily Herald article from Sept. 17, 1964
Wausau Daily Herald article from Sept. 17, 1964(Marathon County Historical Society)
Wausau Daily Herald article from May 12, 1964
Wausau Daily Herald article from May 12, 1964(Marathon County Historical Society)

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