(Ashippun) A rural Ashippun woman was sentenced to 10 months in jail with work release privileges Thursday for helping cover-up the murder of a Beaver Dam man. In October, Dakota Schlesner entered a no contest plea to a felony count of Harboring A Felon. In addition to jail, Schlesner was placed on probation for two years.
Earlier this month, Nigel Schultz of Portage was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the death of Bradlee Gerke. The 21-year-old Schultz confessed to shooting the victim with a 38-Derringer and a .22-rifle a total of sixteen times. Rebecca Wolc of Beaver Dam was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of extended supervision for harboring Schultz while he was sought by police.
On October 28 of 2018, Schultz contacted Schlesner – his ex-girlfriend – and instructed her to come to her parent’s Ashippun farm, where he showed her the body. Schultz admitted to Schlesner that he killed Gerke and warned her not to tell anybody, noting what he is capable of. Schlesner helped move and bury Gerke.
The murder was reported on Halloween, when her father – Timothy Schlesner – discovered the grave. Gerke’s body was located in a shallow grave in a nearby tree line covered in gasoline. Schultz initially tried to place Gerke’s body into a 50-gallon burn barrel.
Schlesner admitted to covering the burial site with sticks, grass and dirt. She told investigators that she was (quote) “very scared” of Schultz after seeing the body and believed he would do the same to her if she said anything. After his arrest, Schultz told his mother during a recorded jail call that Schlesner and her family were going to die for reporting the crime.
At sentencing Timothy Schlesner, who discovered the body, spoke on behalf of his daughter. He said Dakota has no criminal past and he does not know how she got involved with Nigel Schultz. Timothy said Schultz knew he was not allowed at his property and he took advantage of the fact that no one was going to be at the residence due to a funeral. He added that Dakota is also a victim and said he was sorry for Gerke’s family and anyone who was close to him.
Gerke’s mother, Debra Hardy, gave a tearful thank you to Timothy for notifying police of her son’s death.
District Attorney Kurt Klomberg said Schultz coerced Dakota into helping him cover up the crime. He added that she is not responsible for the homicide but in the days after, engaged in acts that aided Schultz. Klomberg said while he can appreciate that Dakota was scared and confronted with a situation that would terrify any person, she owed a duty to the victim, the victim’s family and society.
Klomberg recommended that Dakota only serve a six month jail sentence but Judge Brian Pfitzinger ruled that she be behind bars for ten months.