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Janesville police: Missing man found; search timeline expanded for suspect's activities

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Frank Schultz
May 12, 2014

JANESVILLE--The investigation into possibly undiscovered killings by Clayton J. Courtney took a new, worrisome turn Monday.

Police are now asking for the public's help to look several years into Courtney's past for clues of possible killings. Police previously had focused on the few days before the death of Britney N. Cross, 21, of Indianford.

Cross' body was found behind a vacant building on North Main Street in Janesville on May 5.

Courtney, a suspect in Cross' murder, is accused of saying that he had killed three people. He allegedly said those words while he was assaulting his roommate the night of May 4 in what police have described as a drug-fueled rage.

Courtney, 28, Janesville, is charged with attempted first-degree homicide in the stabbing of his roommate, Michael J. Clark.

Clark's initial statement to police included these words from Courtney: “I have killed three people tonight. We are all going to die.”

But in a follow-up interview with investigators, Clark said Courtney actually told him: “I have killed three people. We are all going to die tonight.”

Police Chief David Moore indicated at a news conference Monday that police now are concerned that if Courtney was telling the truth, the killings could have happened years earlier.

Police are asking anyone who knows of suspicious activities or statements by Courtney's in years past to come forward.

Moore said police also will consider any missing-person information that this new information might elicit.

Moore also revealed new information in the investigation of the death of Mary Coulthard of Janesville, whose body was found Friday in the Rock River in Janesville.

Coulthard died of drowning, but the autopsy revealed a fresh injury to her body that occurred before she died, Moore said.

Moore would not reveal the nature of the injury so as not to impede the investigation.

Moore said police don't know if the injury was incapacitating.

Courtney is not a suspect in Coulthard's death, and police have not found any evidence that their paths crossed, but Coulthard's injury could have happened in one of three ways, Moore said: an accident, suicidal behavior or a criminal act.

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News conference: Man found; suspect timeline search expanded (15:23)

Police are not yet able to prove any of those scenarios, Moore said, but it could have been from a fall, from a fall into the river, or inflicted by someone unintentionally.

Moore also announced that a Janesville man reported missing last week has been found in northern Wisconsin.

Gerald Hockensmith, 59, had been last seen at his residence, 120 N. River St., on May 1. Police learned Wednesday that he was missing.

Monday morning, detectives verified with surveillance video from a northern Wisconsin bank that Hockensmith is alive and well.

Hockensmith apparently had decided to move to up north and did not take many of his possessions with him, Moore said. He had withdrawn money from the bank.

He is alive and well, Moore said, but detectives were on their way Monday to see Hockensmith in person.

Moore agreed Courtney could have been lying when he said he had killed three, “but we have a young woman who is dead in our community,” so police have to take Courtney's words seriously.

Police have followed up on about 70 tips since the investigation began, Moore said, and many of those were helpful.

Coulthard had been missing since May 2. Her water bottle was found on the Milwaukee Street bridge, and her purse was found in the 200 block of South Jackson Street the next morning. The purse and contents will be sent to the state Crime Lab for DNA analysis, Moore said.

Some property was missing from the purse, but again, Moore said he could not reveal what it was.

Police are interested in any information about the purse's contents and about how Coulthard might have been injured, Moore said.

Coulthard's injury is “significantly different” from the blow to the head by a blunt object that caused Cross' death, Moore said.

Asked about Courtney's tattoo that includes the words “Pure hate” across his chest, and the fact that one of his favorite books listed on his Facebook page was “The Turner Diaries,” which is popular in white supremacist circles, Moore said police have made no connection to a racist motive in the case, “but anything that is out there on his Facebook page will be vetted and investigated.”

The Gazette covered the news conference live via Twitter. Read those Twitter posts below.



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