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Kenosha man prime suspect in 1990 homicide

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Todd Richmond, Associated Press | April 8, 2014

FOND DU LAC — A Kenosha man is the prime suspect in the 1990 slaying of an 18-year-old woman found dead in Fond du Lac County, authorities said Monday.

No arrests or charges are imminent, Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mylan C. Fink said at a news conference, and investigators are still looking at a number of other possible suspects. But Fink said detectives are closer to solving the homicide than they've been in years.

"I've got a problem with (the term) 'person of interest.' I would call (the man) a suspect, a prime suspect," the sheriff said.

Berit Beck of Sturtevant disappeared in July 1990 on her way to a computer seminar in Appleton. Her van was found in a Fond du Lac parking lot two days after she vanished; investigators collected more than 70 pieces of evidence from the vehicle. Beck's body was discovered in a Fond du Lac County ditch about a month later.

The case has languished for years. This past February, however, detectives received information about five pieces of evidence, according to court documents released Monday. Investigators determined one item is linked to the now 60-year-old Kenosha man. The documents did not elaborate on any of the evidence or how detectives linked the item to the man.

Multiple pieces of electronic equipment that over-the-road truckers use were missing from Beck's van and the man's ex-wife told investigators he may have been a trucker when Beck went missing, the documents said.

Last month investigators obtained a search warrant granting them permission to take photographs of the Kenosha man's hands. The photographs would help further analysis, according to court documents.

"The evidence we have shows (the Kenosha man) was intimately involved with the inside of the van," said Fink, who was a detective on the Beck case.

The warrant was returned as unexecuted on March 31, but District Attorney Eric Toney said during the news conference that investigators had nevertheless obtained the photographs of the man's hands and the state crime lab was analyzing them.

He declined to explain how investigators got the pictures or describe what evidence was in the van. He also wouldn't comment on whether investigators have obtained any DNA samples.

The man still resides in Kenosha, the sheriff said, but authorities don't plan to make an arrest or file charges in the case soon.

"There's all kinds of people we're looking at in this case," Fink said. "We're going to see if their worlds come together."

Asked whether the Kenosha man might flee, Fink said he has ties to the community but "I can't tell you what he will or won't do next."

Racine County deputies arrested a 36-year-old Illinois man on Saturday in another cold-case slaying. Sheriff Christopher Schmaling is expected to discuss developments Tuesday in the 1997 killing of 14-year-old Amber Creek, whose body was found in a Burlington marsh.

Fink said he doesn't believe the Beck and Creek homicides are related.
   



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