DA: String of Retail Thefts Uncovers Drugs, Kidnapping, Attempted Murder
By Brandi Makuski
What began as a search for stolen merchandise led officers through three trailer parks and ended with police finding a battered 16-year-old kidnapping victim hiding in a shower stall.
Dylan Sockness, 20, appeared via video in Portage Co. Circuit Court on Jan. 23, when District Attorney Louie Molepske indicated the defendant was facing charges alleging several violent crimes.
“We anticipate bringing charges of felony child abuse, false imprisonment as a form of kidnapping, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine and heroin, felony retail theft, resisting officers, felony identity theft and aggravated battery,” Molepske said on Monday.
“We’re also looking at whether or not to bring charges of attempted homicide,” he added.
According to court records, Stevens Point police on Jan. 21 were investigating a string of recent retail thefts that occurred at Mills Fleet Farm on Hwy. 10.
Police found several items matching the stolen goods’ description had been placed for sale on the “letgo” app, which allows users to sell secondhand goods online, Molepske said. The items, which included power tools, were valued at over $2500, and were listed for sale under the name of Sockness’ mother. That sales profile lead detectives to Sockness’ Facebook page.
Using information contained in Sockness’ social media profile, police found his mother’s last known address in Four Seasons Mobile Home Community — formerly known as Fairview Village — on Torun Rd., but a man living there told police she could be found at Recreacres Mobile Home Park, located several blocks away.
With Plover police now aiding in the search, a resident at the second mobile home park pointed police to yet a third trailer park — Plover Pine Village Mobile Home Park on Forest Drive in Plover. A man who answered the door at that residence said the mother did live there with him, but was not present at the time.
“When he was asked if there were any stolen items in the trailer, he put his head down and said, ‘Possibly,'” Molepske said, adding officers then searched for, and found, several of the items reported stolen.
While searching the residence, police also found a safe in Sockness’ bedroom containing narcotics, including methamphetamine, methadone, Oxycodone, Valium and THC, Molespke said. During the search, police heard noise coming from the shower, where they found a 16-year-old girl was hiding.
Molepske said the girl told police she was brought to the home against her will after participating in “a retail theft spree with the defendant” and had been threatened and struck multiple times by Sockness “to keep her submissive.”
The girl tried to leave the mobile home, Molepske said, in early January, but as soon as she pulled on her shoes, Sockness allegedly stopped her using violence.
“He grabbed her, told her he would stab and kill her, and he then proceeded to attempt to stab her in the stomach; he then stabbed her in the arm, and she was bleeding. He then grabbed on to her neck, lifted her off the ground and was strangling her,” Molepske said.
When the girl told Sockness she couldn’t breath, he placed his hands over her mouth and again threatened to kill her, Molepske said. He ultimately let the girl go, but said she did not attempt to leave again because she feared for her life if she tried.
Sockness’ mother was present, according to the girl, and witnessed the event, Molepske said. The girl said she asked Sockness’ mother to be treated in a hospital, but the mother refused and dressed the girl’s wounds herself.
Sockness appeared to disagree with the retelling of the events via video on Monday, sighing heavily and shaking his head, and interrupted the court twice with unintelligible objections to the proceedings but was not acknowledged by the judge.
Molepske initially asked for $50,000 cash bond due to Sockness’ lack of local ties and address, as well as the severity of the charges. He also pointed out Sockness has had past warrants for failing to appear, and currently had open cases in other counties.
It was not immediately clear how the 16-year-old came to live with Sockness and his mother, or if Sockness’ mother, or the man at the Plover trailer, would be charged in connection with the alleged crimes.
Judge Thomas Flugaur ordered Sockness be held on a cash bond of $25,000. Sockness returns to court Feb. 13 at 1:30 PM in Portage Co. Circuit Court Branch I.