SHELL LAKE– "Guilty."
That was the plea Jolene Hanson, 45, of Spooner gave to a charge of party to first-degree recklessly causing great bodily harm, part of a plea agreement that included dismissing the original charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
The plea was accepted during a court appearance on Friday, Nov. 22, that originally was
scheduled to hear motions filed with the court as a prelude for an eventual trial.
Hanson and Robert "Bob" R. Meyers of Spooner were both charged in August 2018 with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly trying to kill Meyers's wife, Sharon R. Meyers, by poisoning her, first by eye drops and then by ant poison and anti-fungal foot cream placed in a drink. They also were charged with intentionally subjecting a person to abuse that is likely to cause harm.
They were arrested on August 7, 2018, and have been in the Washburn County Jail since.
As part of Hanson's amended charges, the charge of party to causing mental harm to a child was dismissed but read into the record for consideration during sentencing. That sentencing is scheduled for April 1 under Rusk County Circuit Judge Steven Anderson.
The defense and state attorneys recommended Anderson sentence Hanson to four years in prison, with credit for time already served, plus a decade of extended supervision. Anderson is not bound by the agreement. Though the attorneys did not request a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) of Hanson, the judge ordered one to be completed by the Department of Corrections. A PSI looks into a defendant's history, circumstances around the crime, and factors that could lead to reoffending.
The attempted murder charge carries the potential for 60 years in prison, while the maximum for the recklessly causing injury is 25 years.
Meyers' case is continuing, with motions reviewed in court on Friday centering around whether the police needed a search warrant for the initial entry into the building where the alleged poisoning attempts took place and a request that several items be tested by the State Crime Lab.
Judge Anderson will consider the motion to suppress evidence from the initial investigation that had been done in part to check on the welfare of Sharon Meyer. During that investigation, a witness gave the officer the packaging from the ant poison and foot cream.
As part of the plea agreement, the facts of the case as outlined in the criminal complaint were accepted.
According to the criminal complaints against Hanson and Meyers, the following actions allegedly occurred:
The attempted murder charges came about when a teen met with a Spooner Police Department officer to report that Hanson was dating Robert Meyers and wanted to marry him and so between March 1 and August 6 had been trying to kill his wife, Sharon Meyers, by poisoning her. Hanson and the Meyers were living together in a home in Minong, but when that home was in foreclosure, they moved to a garage at Bob's Auto, Spooner, a company Meyers owned.
The teen said Hanson had put eye drops in Sharon Meyers' drinks, but that did not have the desired effect of killing her, so on August 6, Hanson bought ant poison and anti-fungal foot cream, put half of them in each of two drinks, mixed with vodka and orange juice, and gave them to Meyers.
In a recording at the store leading up to the purchase, two female voices can be heard talking about whether the ant killer would be strong enough and whether it would burn Meyers' throat. Video footage from the store showed the two looking at the items and showed Hanson buying the cream but stealing the ant killer.
The teen was on hand as the drinks were given, and when told to go encourage Meyers to drink both cocktails, she instead got her phone and 15 minutes later, when Hanson went to do the laundry, called police.
The officer had the teen show him at the store what Hanson had purchased, and a call to the Poison Control center said the amounts used could cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, and deterioration of the stomach and intestines. The eye drops could be fatal in large quantities.
The officer went to Bob's Auto and found Sharon Meyers sleeping, and a grocery bag with the empty fungal cream and ant killer containers were recovered.
The teen told the officer that Hanson had admitted to poisoning Meyers because she is sick and is "just speeding up the process." The teen alleged that Meyers looked for substances that were clear and would not burn Meyers' throat or show up on a "scan."
The teen told the officer that Robert Meyers knew what was going on and has said it would be nice not to be tied down by his wife, he did not want to divorce his wife because he would feel guilty, and he and Hanson were taking measures to prepare for a move to Arizona when his wife died. Hanson reportedly said she had even considered leaving Sharon Meyers by the side of the road "for the coyotes" on their way.
The teen said Sharon Meyers has some medical issues and she was not being properly cared for by her husband and Hanson and they even ignore her when she needs something.
When questioned, Sharon Meyers told the officer that, yes, she had had a vodka and orange juice cocktail on August 6 but had not drunk much of it because it tasted odd and was strong, but "not vodka strong."
The criminal complaint alleges that Hanson and her boyfriend neglected a child through their living conditions, not supplying proper care and living quarters, not providing medical care, and limiting food.
When a search was conducted at the home, numerous drug-related items were found, including what appeared to be 7.1 grams of marijuana seeds and stems in one baggie, 2.4 grams of seeds in another, a jar with 149.6 grams of marijuana, and a bag with 19.4 grams of marijuana.
The search also recovered drinking glasses, eye drops, and vodka.
According to the criminal complaint, when an Spooner Police Department officer interviewed Hanson on August 8 at the sheriff's department, Hanson said the living conditions "suck," she has worked in the health care field, and relationship-wise, Robert Meyers has said he loves Hanson but calls her his "backup plan," though he has told her he plans to marry her.
Hanson said she had been helping to take care of his wife for six months and had worked at Bob's Auto since November.
During the interview, she at first tried to put the blame for poisoning on her boyfriend.
She told the officer she did not know if Meyers would try to poison his wife, but he and Sharon Meyers had had screwdrivers and his wife said her drink tasted funny and that scared Hanson.
When the officer told Hanson the poisoning was the reason she was being questioned, Hanson became "emotional" and said a variety of chemicals were at Bob's Auto. When asked what Bob Meyer had access to, Hanson cited mouse and ant killers. Asked which could be used in a drink, Hanson said the ant killer was clear and had been "back there" since she was at the shop.
When the officer asked if Hanson had seen Meyers mix his wife's drink, she said his back had been to her.
Hanson portrayed herself to the officer as the person who mostly takes care of Sharon Meyers and her medical issues and that she encourages Sharon Meyers. She alleged that Robert Meyer is mean to his wife, hides her cane, and had been acting "weird" for the past two weeks and was "not acting how I known him for the last 20 years."
The officer asked her if she believed Meyer tried to kill his wife, and Hanson replied, "That's what I'm worried about."
Asked about the ant killer, Hanson placed the blame on Meyer, saying she thought he had bought it, but she had moved it and she also had found a foot fungus bottle so her fingerprints would be on that, too. That contradicted her comments that she had not seen the anti-fungal bottle and had used ant killer when ants came in by the dryer vent.
Hanson's story changed again when the officer said she had lied about not seeing the foot cream. She said Robert Meyers had wanted her to get it and she didn't want to but then told her boyfriend that she wanted to be there "when you do it" and she felt bad she had not told the officer that. She also said she had gotten eyedrops for her Bob Meyer.
Later in a written statement she said she told Meyers she did not want to be there when the ant killer and cream were given and she would rather his wife go to a nursing home.
Hanson told the officer she was not sure whether Meyers had put the cream and ant killer in the drinks but thought he had since his wife said the drinks tasted funny.
Hanson eventually told the officer that Meyers told her he wanted to kill his wife while she was in the hospital in March. She said the two of them had approximately 30 conversations about killing her and what could be done.
She told the officer three versions of who put what into the drinks, implicating herself, her boyfriend, and the teen.
In a second written statement, Hanson said she would not have taken part in the poisoning if Meyers had not wanted her to and he said Sharon Meyers would not feel pain and would be better off dying, and with the insurance policy the two of them could get married and not have to worry about anything again.
Hanson alleged that Meyers would say that his wife had a stroke and she would be cremated.
Hazel Nilson, a longtime summer resident of Stone Lake, died on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the age of 111. At the time of her death she was living in an assisted living facility in Sunapee, New Hampshire, where she moved in 2016 to be closer to family. Hazel gained national notoriety in recent years for her longevity. A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, she was featured on national news programs in 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series. She was believed to be the only Cubs fan who also had been alive when they won their previous world title — way back in 1908.
Hazel has been the subject of numerous stories in the Spooner Advocate and Sawyer County Record over the past 20 years, beginning on her 95th birthday, which she celebrated by going whitewater rafting. Her nickname at the time was "Hurricane Hazel" because she was so active for her age.
Hazel continued to live alone until she moved to New Hampshire in 2014 at the age of 106.
According to Wikipedia, at the time of her death she was the 82nd oldest living person in the world. She enjoyed good health and mental clarity until her death.
According to family friend Gerald Cooper, Hazel died peacefully after a short hospitalization.
"It was only a few weeks ago," Cooper said in an email, "that I watched her leaving the church with her walker, a slight bounce to her step, singing some cheerful ditty as she went down the hall."
Life well lived
Hazel was born on August 21, 1908, in Chicago, where her parents owned a bakery. Both of Hazel's parents had emigrated as teens, her father from Germany and her mother from Sweden. They met at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and were married in 1896.
Hazel graduated from high school at 16. She wanted to be a teacher, so she went on to a normal college in Indianapolis. At the age of 20 she accepted a position in Buffalo, New York, and began her career at Public School 82, a grade school.
Hazel loved teaching physical education. She coached the girls in tumbling and acrobatics, and track and field.
In 1932 Hazel married Herbert "Swede" Nilson, who was also a physical education teacher. They eventually taught at the same school, Kensington High School in Buffalo, but they rarely saw one another during the day. Girls and boys phy ed were separate, and both had different coaching responsibilities at the school day's end.
They had two sons: Bob, born in 1936, and Dick, born in 1942.
In 1948 Hazel's brother Fred purchased a log cabin on Stone Lake. Hazel, Swede, and their sons began to spend portions of their summers there.
"We loved it so much," Hazel said. Across the road from Fred's cabin there was a point that jutted out into the lake. Hazel said that she and Swede talked about how they would love to build on it; when it went on the market years later, they snatched it up.
In 1964 they built a house on the property, a cozy two-bedroom, two-bath ranch with a stunning view of the lake. In 1965 they retired and made it their home. Hazel's mother lived with them the first year until her death at 94.
In 1966, Hazel and Swede began spending winters in Florida. They enjoyed a long retirement together and were married nearly 60 years when Swede died in 1992.
Hazel continued to be active, living alone on Stone Lake during the summer, and sharing a series of homes and apartments with a friend in Florida in the winter.
At the age of 104, Hazel gave up her driver's license. She had no fear of driving, she said, but she knew that if she were in an accident, she would be blamed because of her age.
In 2016 she moved to New Hampshire to be near her son, Bob, and daughter-in-law, Nancy. Bob died in 2018, shortly after Hazel's 110th birthday.
On the occasion of that birthday, Hazel told the Record there was no secret to her longevity, although she felt she had a natural immunity. In all her years of teaching, she said, she was never ill.
"I've had a good life," Hazel said. "My dad always said, 'Live while you live, then die and be done with it.' I think that's some of the best advice I've ever gotten.
"Enjoy every day. And when the day comes around when I'm not around to enjoy it, I've had my fun. And that's good."
In addition to her husband, Hazel was preceded in death by her sons, Dick and Robert.
She is survived by her daughters-in-law, Jackie and Nancy; numerous grandchildren and greatgrandchildren; and a multitude of friends.
Services had not been announced as of press time.
RICE LAKE– The apparent failure to stop at a stop sign seriously injured a Springbrook resident and set up a domino of crashes into other vehicles and a restaurant in rural Rice Lake on Saturday night, Nov. 23.
The initial investigation by the Barron County Sheriff's Department shows Brent Burns of Rice Lake was traveling east on Hwy. B in a Chevy Suburban and failed to stop at the stop sign at Cty. Hwy. SS. He hit a Chevy Equinox heading south on Hwy. SS driven by Dillen Metheny of Springbrook.
The collision sent both cars into the Country Inn Restaurant parking lot, where they collided with five parked vehicles and the building. Burns' vehicle hit the rear end of one vehicle, sending debris onto another, causing minor damage there. The back corner of
Metheny's vehicle hit the passenger side a vehicle with four people in it while the front hit another parked car, pushing it into the building, which caused minor injuries to a person inside the restaurant, and then into another vehicle.
Both drivers were taken to hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, but a passenger in Metheny's Equinox, Justin Metheny, was extricated and flown to St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth with serious injuries.
The four people in the parked car were checked at the scene and required no medical attention, the sheriff's department said.
The Wisconsin State Patrol, Rice Lake Fire Department, Bear Lake Haugen Fire Department, Lakeview Medical Center-Chetek and Cumberland ambulances, and Life Link and North Memorial helicopters assisted.