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Police: Teen Caught Own Killing on Tape

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  • Pat Scala
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2005
      Police: Teen Caught Own Killing on Tape

      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
      that afternoon.

      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
      own screams.

      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
      that night.

      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.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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