Police: Teen Caught Own Killing on Tape
- Police: Teen Caught Own Killing on Tape
By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press Writer
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Seth Hammes was filming in the
woods when his camcorder recorded the crack of
gunshots, the 17-year-old's screams and the voice of
the alleged shooter, promising help that never came.
Authorities say they might never have learned what
happened to Hammes, who later died in the woods.
"But right next to him was the videotape," Monroe
County Sheriff Pete Quirin said Thursday. "That's when
we knew we had a homicide on our hands."
After viewing and listening to the tape, police
tracked down 24-year-old Russell Schroeder, who now
faces charges of reckless homicide and reckless
injury. Schroeder was being held on $250,000 bond. If
convicted, he faces up to 85 years in prison.
Family members said Hammes and two of his friends had
gone bow-hunting Saturday morning in the woods near
Little Falls, about 35 miles northeast of La Crosse.
Hammes put down his bow and picked up his camcorder
According to the criminal complaint, he was shot in
the pelvis and then the heart. His camcorder fell to
the ground but caught the sound of the shots and his
The tape shows a person Quirin identified as Schroeder
in a nearby field, telling Hammes he would call for
help on his cell phone. He then said he couldn't find
a signal but promised to go get help.
Instead, authorities say, Schroeder went to a birthday
party, home to play video games and then to his job as
a custodian at the Army's Fort McCoy near Sparta.
Schroeder didn't call anyone because he was scared he
would get in trouble, the complaint said. He told
police he thought he was shooting at a squirrel until
he heard Hammes scream.
After family and friends reported Hammes missing,
police used bloodhounds to find his body in the woods
Investigators initially believed he had just died in
the woods - there was no blood to indicate foul play,
and he had been shot with a .22-caliber rifle, which
left only small wounds, Quirin said. Then authorities
saw the camcorder tape.
Hammes' family gathered at his grandparents' home in
La Crosse after Hammes' funeral on Thursday.
Ed Hammes said his nephew loved to tinker with the
family's lawn mowers and research pyrotechnics. He
hung out with the La Crosse Skyrockers fireworks club,
which produces the city's New Year's Eve fireworks.
"He was shy for the most part, but he'd go out of his
way to help you," Ed Hammes said.
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