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Wisconsin Man's Alleged Shooting Rampage May Have Been Inspired By Jayme Closs Case, Cops Say
Authorities say Ritchie German Jr. had been sexting Laile Vang, who didn't know him, before he blasted his way into her home with a shotgun, killing the 24-year-old and gravely injured her parents.
A Wisconsin man shot and killed a stranger he had been sending sexually suggestive text messages to — also shooting and injuring her parents in the family’s home — in a case that investigators say “most certainly” resembles the Jayme Closs kidnapping.
Ritchie German Jr., 33, arrived at the home of 24-year-old Laile Vang Sunday night, and blasted his way into the home with a shotgun. He then confronted and shot her parents, killed her and killed himself, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Authorities believe his plan may have been to kidnap Vang — whom he did not appear to know — because he left his car running, with handcuffs and a full handgun clip inside, The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
Just the day before the home invasion, authorities said, German shot and killed his 66-year-old mother, Bridget German, 32-year-old brother Douglas German and his brother’s son, 8-year-old Calvin Harris, at the family’s townhome, then meticulously cleaned the crime scene and arranged the bodies.
Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk said at a news conference Tuesday that German may have even slept in the townhome with his family’s dead bodies before going to the Vang household on Sunday night and causing more devastation.
Vang’s parents, 51-year-old Teng Vang and 39-year-old Mai Chang Vang, each suffered defensive wounds and were struck in their hands as they tried to fend off their attacker. The couple each had to have an arm amputated, although both are expected to survive, authorities said.
Kowalcyzk said they have not established a motive for the killings, but said the case “most certainly” has similarities to the kidnapping of Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs.
“Why is he going armed to a residence he’s never been to before? To our knowledge, it’s similar to the Closs situation,” Kowalczyk said. “I’m not saying that was the motive, but I’m saying similar circumstances that happened in Barron County happened in Chippewa County.”
In October 2018, Jake Patterson blasted his way into the Closs family home, killed Jayme's parents and kidnapped the 13-year-old. She later escaped her abductor, and Patterson was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for the crimes.
Much like in the Closs case, investigators don’t believe Vang knew German before he broke into the home. However, they have discovered text messages between the pair. Kowalcyzk said German sent texts of a sexual nature to Vang, but it did not appear that she knew him.
“Who is this? I don’t know you,” authorities said she responded.
German was described by authorities as a loner with a spotty work history.
His father, Ritchie German Sr., told The Star Tribune that his son had mental health issues and suffered from bipolar disorder.
He has also said his son lived with him from 2005 to 2014, and worked for just one year during that time at a job at Menards, according to The Wisconsin State Journal.
Authorities said that German Jr. shot his mother, brother and nephew each in the head, then posed his brother and nephew in bed with their arms stretched out to their sides.
He also cleared one of two bedrooms in the townhome of everything except a single sweatshirt, and meticulously tried to clean up blood from the crime scene. German then called his mother’s place of work to say she was sick and would not be coming in. He also told a friend of his nephew’s that came to the door, that the 8-year-old was out shopping.
German then drove to the Vang household, where they believe he may have been trying to abduct the 24-year-old. However, both Vang and German ended up dead inside the Lake Hallie home.
German’s only brush with authorities in the past occurred in 2006, when his mother reported he had threatened his two brothers with a shotgun. He was given probation for a charge of reckless endangerment.