UPDATE Posted Wednesday September 16, 2009 -- 5:13pm
By Zac Schultz
Fitchburg: Investigators say the DNA from a local man could prove he killed Amos Mortier.
Amos Mortier disappeared in November of 2004. Friends went to his Fitchburg home and found a half-smoked joint in the ashtray and his turntables still running.
His body has never been found, and police believe Mortier was killed over drug debts.
According to a search warrant filed in Dane County Court, Mortier was a high level drug dealer. Each month he received about 80 pounds of marijuana from the east coast and sold it to local dealers.
Police say it was 30 pounds of missing dope that led to Mortier's death.
Fitchburg investigators recently collected the DNA of Jacob Stadfeld, one of those local dealers and a friend of Mortier's. "He is a person of interest. Potentially could be a suspect," says Fitchburg Lt. Todd Stetzer. He says they are checking Stadfeld's DNA against a few pieces of evidence that may lead to murder charges. "There's some specific items that we're looking at."
According to the search warrant, late in 2003, Mortier gave Stadfeld 30 pounds of marijuana to hide, worth $80,000. It was later stolen, and Mortier blamed Stadfeld.
Mortier started demanding his money, and phone records show Stadfeld started calling gunshops and another local dealer, Jacob Falkner.
Investigators say after Mortier disappeared they searched Falkner's trunk and found rope, a shovel covered in dirt, and "plastic sheeting cut into body size pieces"
A cadaver dog hit on Mortier's backyard, indicating a dead body had been there.
The warrant also quotes Falkner as saying, "when you find a body I will tell you everything I know."
Stadfeld's cell phone records also show he was at Mortier's home the day he disappeared and the day after and the warrant says he doesn't have an alibi for a few hours each day.
As to why it took this long to request the DNA, police say it's taken this long for some people to come forward with information.
A number of dealers connected to Mortier have been dealing with federal drug charges and most have now been convicted or cleared.
"Once they know what's going to happen to them related to the activities they were involved in they may be more willing to engage in conversations they previously were not willing to speak about," says Lt. Stetzer.
Stadfeld himself is waiting to hear if he has immunity from federal charges. If not, he could go to trial next year.
Fitchburg Police say it could take a couple months for the crime lab to determine if Stadfeld's DNA is on any of the key evidence.
NBC 15 News spoke with Ernesto Chavez, Stadfeld's lawyer. He says his client has been cooperating with law enforcement, and says the DNA testing could actually help fully exonerate his client.
UPDATED Thursday, February 12, 2009 --- 8:15 a.m.
Press Release from the Isthmus:
An article in the Feb. 13 edition of Isthmus, published today, contains new revelations about the disappearance and presumed murder of Amos Mortier.
The report by freelance writer Nathan Comp, based on exclusively obtained grand jury testimony and other documents, shows that a witness told a federal grand jury about a man who allegedly confessed to killing Mortier.
Mortier, 27, disappeared suddenly from his Fitchburg home on Nov. 8, 2004. Police believed he was murdered, likely in connection with his involvement in a marijuana sales ring. His body was never found.
The Isthmus article reports that, in September 2006, one witness told a grand jury looking into the marijuana ring that an associate of Mortier's admitted to stabbing him following an argument. Then he allegedly dumped the body on a hog farm, to be consumed by the animals.
Police interviewed this suspect on several occasions but no charges were ever brought against him. The suspect told Isthmus that police never asked him for an alibi or searched his home or vehicle. He denies any role in Mortier's disappearance.
To read the full story, visit http://www.thedailypage.com.
Comp is a former Madison freelance writer who now lives in Philadelphia. He is working on a book about the case.
In an interview on Isthmus' website, TheDailyPage.com, Comp says he's shocked that this lead was not pursued more aggressively. "Investigators seem to have taken denial... at face value. He never felt the kind of pressure lesser suspects have endured."
Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders hopes the article will jar more information into the public domain. "For all we know, this wasn't the only person the suspect confessed to," he says. "Police have known about this alleged admission for more than three years, and the secrecy they've embraced has not led to any breakthroughs. Perhaps our story will."
Posted April 30, 2005 --- 4:45 p.m.
Amos Mortier has been missing for more than five months and Wednesday police released some troubling information on the case.
"Based upon information that we have received, this may be a homicide investigation and we'll be speaking in greater detail in court," said Chief Tom Blatter of the Fitchburg Police Department.
Few other details were released at today's press conference, but police say the investigation has identified several “person's of interest” both in and outside of Dane County.
They also say that Amos' disappearance is related to his involvement in illegal drug activity.
Chief Blatter says the investigation is a top priority.
Amos' family is offering a $10,000 reward to help with the case.