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Sheriff: Kidnapped man found dead in Columbia Co.; Madison residents arrested

Three suspects from Madison face homicide allegations after a kidnapping investigation led to rural Portage, where the victim’s body was discovered.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 2:13 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Three suspects from Madison face homicide allegations after a kidnapping investigation led to rural Portage, where the victim’s body was discovered.

According to the Columbia Co. Sheriff’s Office, the victim was bound by his attackers who put the man into his own vehicle and drove to Lewiston Township. Once they reached Klappstein Road, near Highway 16, the victim was taken out of the vehicle and shot in the head with a handgun. The Columbia Co. Medical Examiner pronounced the man, whose name was not released, dead at the scene.

Then, the suspects headed back to Madison in the victim’s vehicle and got rid of his property, the report continued. The next day, the Madison Police Department learned of a woman who was driving the victim’s vehicle and allegedly tried to run over a man. The vehicle eventually struck a home on the 400 block of Ingersoll Street and a gun was found in the car, Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said during a news conference.

MPD’s investigators determined three people were involved in their kidnapping case. Officers located the suspected killers and took them into custody. It identified the trio as:

  • Jesse Freiberg, 28
  • Laura Johnson, 38
  • Jakenya Patty, 21

They are all currently being held in the Dane Co. jail; however, their homicide allegations will be filed in Columbia Co., the Sheriff’s Office noted. Freiberg is accused of first-degree homicide, while Johnson and Patty are expected to be booked for 1st degree homicide - party to a crime.

The Sheriff’s Office indicates the killing was a targeted act and not a random act of violence. As such, and with all three suspects behind bars, investigators state there is not threat to the community. Barnes said that the suspects and victims knew each other, but officers will look into what the exact relationship was over the course of their investigation.

The investigation remains ongoing, with the Sheriff’s Office calling it “active (and) fluid.” More charges against the three of them are expected.

Barnes also commended Columbia County authorities on their investigation as they worked with impending storms Wednesday night to mark and process evidence.

“At one point I was informed that they were thinking ‘what would we do if a tornado started right now? where we put our vehicles?’ but they they stayed in there and they were able to process that information which will help bring closure,” Barnes said.

Barnes also thanked the community for coming forward and tipping them off about someone nearly being hit by the vehicle, which ultimately led officers to the suspects.

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