Wood County Sheriff Updates on 1984 Homicide
Wisconsin Rapids (OnFocus) – After nearly 36 years, developments were made today in a gruesome Central Wisconsin murder case. The Wood County Sheriffs Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced that John A. Sarver, a 57 year-old man from Port Edwards, Wis., has been arrested and charged with First Degree Murder in the death of 73 year-old Eleanore Roberts.
On November 27, 1984, Roberts was found beaten and stabbed to death in her rural Town of Saratoga home. Her son Marshall found her body in the bathroom. DNA was preserved from the crime scene, as well as DNA samples taken from a lone suspect, but no arrest was ever made in the case and no charges ever filed.
Mr. Sarver was arrested at his home today and has been booked into the Wood County Jail. As in any criminal proceeding, Mr. Sarver is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation has continued for decades at the Wood County Sheriffs Office, with assistance from the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). Also assisting is the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory. The case is being prosecuted by DOJ Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Annie Jay, with assistance from AAG Dick Dufour. The DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services is providing victim services.
In a 2016 Daily Tribune article, Pittsville resident Jerome Lippert highlights disparate stories surrounding the case, stating, “There seemed to be a consensus as to the name of the prime suspect and concerns as to why he had never been charged, along with thoughts, speculation as to motive.”
After talking to Roberts’ family, reviewing documents, and reaching out to local law enforcement and officers who had worked on the case, Lippert called for a new John Doe hearing to further investigate the circumstances of the murder and subsequent investigation
“I ask persons in positions of authority in Wisconsin to take this step to get all the facts out and to ascertain why charges haven’t been brought,” he wrote at the time. “Soon everyone connected to this brutal murder will have passed away and it will just be an unsolved ‘mystery’ for the dusty annals of local history. I firmly believe from my research that it shouldn’t, and furthermore need not, end that way.”
Lippert referenced a 2013 Daily Tribute article by reporter Karen Madden, which highlights the efforts of Wood County police investigators Bob Levendoske and Jay Shroda. In Madden’s article, Levendoske is quoted as saying about two and a half years after the crime, they identified the person who remains the prime suspect. Levendoske also indicates that authorities left work on a Friday expecting an arrest to be made on Monday, but that didn’t happen. The reason given is because the district attorney in office at that time expressed concerns about the case.
Sarver is expected to appear in Wood County Circuit Court tomorrow.
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