Old Waupaca County Murders back on the front burner

Richard Togstad remembers waving to his sister, Tanna Togstad, as she was driving her pickup truck to work on a rural Weyauwega road on a mid-March morning in 1992.

A few days later, 23-year-old Tanna Togstad was dead. She was stabbed, along with her boyfriend, Timothy Mumbrue, in her farmhouse on Butternut Ridge Road, roughly 11/2 miles from his home.

"She just bought a new truck," Richard Togstad recalled of the chance meeting on their way to work. "I remember it like it was yesterday."

The case has gone unsolved for nearly 23 years, but Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel said he is optimistic that the vicious double murder — and the 1978 slaying of Marcella Carpenter in her rural Clintonville home — will be solved in the not-too-distant-future.

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"We have made some really good headway (on the two murder investigations)," Hardel told Post-Crescent Media. "I'm excited."

It is realistic to think that both cases will be solved in the next year, he said.

That's welcome news to Richard Togstad, who wants to see his sister's killer — or killers — brought to justice.

"I want it solved," he said. "I want this guy, or guys, in prison before they die of old age."

Major break

Tanna Togstad, who worked at a cheese factory, had been dating Mumbrue for less than a year before they were killed. They were last seen alive in a Clintonville tavern between 11:30 p.m. and midnight March 20. Mumbrue, 35, was stabbed multiple times and appeared to have tried to defend himself. Togstad was stabbed twice, and her dog was killed.

[The E5674 Butternut Ridge Road Town of Royalton residence] Buy Photo

The E5674 Butternut Ridge Road Town of Royalton residence that was the scene of the March 1992 stabbing deaths of Timothy Mumbrue, 35, and Tanna Togstad, 23. Photographed Feb. 7, 2013, near Weyauwega. (Photo: Wm. Glasheen/Post-Crescent Media)

In February 2013, authorities disclosed that Glendon Gouker was a "person of interest" in the murders. That revelation came when Gouker was charged two years ago with raping a woman in Iola in 1990. Prosecutors said Gouker took the woman to a park and sexually assaulted her.

DNA testing led to a breakthrough in the rape case and linked Gouker to the Togstad-Mumbrue slayings, but police have been tight-lipped about the extent of that connection.

Gouker was convicted last year of first-degree sexual assault in the Iola case and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

He lived in Iola at the time the rape occurred and moved to Oklahoma in September 1993, according to court records. He is currently serving four consecutive life sentences in Oklahoma, where he was convicted of killing a man in 2010 and stuffing his body into a 55-gallon drum.

Hardel said the Togstad-Mumbrue slayings are being actively investigated.

[Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel displayed this copy] Buy Photo

Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel displayed this copy of a billboard during a press conference regarding the arrest of Glendon Gouker in connection to a 1990 Iola sex assualt Feb. 4, 2013, at the Waupaca County Courthouse in Waupaca. Gouker is a “person of interest” in the 1992 homicides of Tanna Togstad and Timothy Mumbrue. (Photo: Dan Powers/Post-Crescent Media)

"We've got a few things we're waiting on to come back from the (state) crime lab," he said. "But we're not definitely convinced that he's the only person (of interest). There's a good chance there is someone else besides him."

Clearing the books

Hardel also is optimistic that there will be a breakthrough in the Marcella Carpenter murder, which occurred more than 37 years ago.

The 26-year-old Carpenter was found dead after a passing motorist reported a house fire in rural Clintonville on Jan. 15, 1978. She was discovered in the living room of the burning house. She died of a single stab wound, with smoke inhalation as a contributing cause of death.

"I think there is a good possibility of solving that one," said Hardel, who declined to elaborate.

The sheriff said the renewed emphasis on the murder cases is important.

"You never want a case that's not solved or closed," Hardel said. "We only have two unsolved homicides in the county. Our goal is to solve those so we can clear the books.

"It's not only for our satisfaction but the (victims') families, too. There are families that don't have complete closure because they don't know who did it."

Richard Togstad appreciates the efforts by law enforcement to solve his sister's case.

"They'll get it solved," he said. "How soon? I don't know."

— Andy Thompson: 920-993-1000, ext. 257, or athompson@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @Thompson_AW

How to help

Anyone with information about the March 1992 murders of Timothy Mumbrue and Tanna Togstad of rural Weyauwega or the January 1978 murder of Marcella Carpenter of Clintonville is asked to call the Waupaca County Sheriff's Department at 715-258-4466.

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