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Retired Wisconsin Judge Murdered By Felon He Sentenced To Prison Years Ago, Police Say

New Lisbon, WI – A retired Juneau County judge was found zip-tied to a chair and shot to death in his Wisconsin home on Friday night, according to police.

Juneau County Judge John Roemer, 68, was first elected to the bench in 2004, the Associated Press reported.

He was reelected in 2010 and 2016 and retired in 2017.

Prior to his time on the bench, the U.S. Army Reserves lieutenant colonel spent time working as an assistant state public defender, and assistant Juneau County district attorney, and in private practice, the Associated Press reported.

According to the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) received a report of gunfire at a New Lisbon home at approximately 6:30 a.m. on June 3.

The caller, who escaped the house and called from a neighbor’s residence, told the sheriff’s office there were at least two rounds fired.

The suspect, later identified as 56-year-old convicted felon Douglas Uhde, was still inside the retired judge’s home when deputies arrived, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Negotiators attempted to speak with him, but those attempts “failed,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ).

Police forced entry into Roemer’s house at approximately 10:17 a.m. and found the retired judge’s body zip-tied to a chair, the Associated Press reported.

He had been fatally shot.

Investigators discovered Uhde in Roemer’s basement suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Uhde was rushed to a local hospital, where he remained in critical condition on Saturday.

Police said that in 2005, Roemer sentenced Uhde to six years in prison, followed by nine years of extended supervision, due to charges of burglary, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, carrying a concealed weapon, and felon in possession of a firearm, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Uhde escaped from prison for three weeks in 2006 after he walked off while painting the inside of a house located on the grounds of the Baraboo Circus World Museum.

After he was recaptured, Uhde was shipped off to the Stanley Correctional Institution until his release from prison in April of 2020, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Investigators said they found a list of prominent government officials inside Uhde’s vehicle, to include Roemer, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, according to the Associated Press.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said Roemer’s murder appeared to be a “targeted attack,” and that Uhde’s list was comprised of individuals who are “part of the judicial system,” the Associated Press reported.

“The information that’s been gathered indicated that it was a targeted act and that the targeting was based on some sort of court case or court cases,” Kaul said.

Kaul said investigators do not believe there is “any active threat” to anyone else named on Uhde’s list, The Washington Post reported.

“Those who may have been other targets have been notified of that, but we are not aware of any active threat to individuals,” he said. “If we become aware of any specific ongoing threat, we will certainly notify people when we are aware of that.”

The Wisconsin DCI is handling the investigation into Roemer’s murder with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and multiple other state and federal agencies, according to The Washington Post.

“The state’s judicial family is shocked and saddened by this tragedy,” Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler said in a statement. “Judge Roemer dedicated much of his career to public service in the law. … His work made a tremendous difference in the lives of many people in Juneau County and elsewhere in the state.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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