WAHI members John J.C. Christophersen and Tim Nichols to feature on Paula Zahn - On the Case

WAHI members John Christophersen and Tim Nichols will soon be featured on the TV series On the Case with Paula Zahn .  The show will detail the August 2nd, 2002 murder of Sandra Iverson and arrest of Dustin Harwick the then 14 year-old neighbor boy.  WAHI will post the date of airing as soon as it is available.

LaCrosse Tribune

DNA evidence that was found inside the waistband of a pair of wind pants led to the identification of a suspect in the Aug. 2, 2002, murder of Sandra A. Iverson.

That DNA was what investigators needed to match Dustin Harwick to the crime.

"It made the case," said Sheriff Richard Young.

Dustin Harwick, 15, was charged with first degree intentional homicide. Harwick was 14 and a next-door neighbor to Iverson at the time of the murder.

Young, State Investigations Bureau Director Robbie Lowery, District Attorney Anna Becker and Assistant District Attorney Marge Rewald appeared in a press conference March 6, to explain the details of the investigation and Harwick's arrest.

Young said that he couldn't discuss a possible motive at this time, but it will come out during the trial. The only possession missing from Iverson's house was her purse.

Iverson was an employee of Jubilee Foods, Black River Falls, and when she didn't show up for work on Aug. 2, 2002, a fellow employee went to her residence to check on her, according to the criminal complaint. It was uncharacteristic for Iverson not to report to work or at least call.

When the co-worker arrived at her trailer home, he found her car parked in her driveway. The employee didn't get a response from a knock on the door, but did notice what appeared to be blood smeared on the door. The Sheriff's Department was called.

A deputy arrived, also noticed the blood on the door and entered the trailer house by an unlocked window. The deputy found Iverson's body on the floor of the bedroom. She had sustained a large wound to her throat and another on the right side of her head, according to the criminal complaint.

The marks were "sharp instrument wounds," according to Young. "They were not Jack the Ripper, or Sharon Tate-type wounds," Young said.

Two neighbors reported hearing a noise at 1 a.m. in the woods on the other side of a chain-link fence that bordered the trailer park. The noise sounded like sticks breaking. The two men looked in the direction of the noise and saw a man wearing dark clothing running through the woods.

Based on that information, Deputy K-9 Morris and other deputies searched the wooded area that bordered the trailer park. Morris alerted deputies to an area near some brush. Upon further inspection, a black purse was found. The purse had black nylon clothing sticking out the top of it. When the clothing was removed, a serrated knife blade, without a handle, fell to the ground. The blade was covered with blood stains and hair.

The clothing was a pair of blood-soaked nylon wind pants. The pants were sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab for analysis.

At the laboratory, technicians found the DNA from the blood matched Iverson's DNA. Also, the lab technicians found another DNA type in the waistband of the wind pants from an unknown individual.

On Jan. 22, 2003, articles were published in local papers, requesting information from the public about the wind pants. Several readers replied by giving information that the pants were offered by the Phillip Morris Company for a certain amount of Marlboro points. They had been a promotional item in 1999. The Phillip Morris Company provided a list of about 300 individuals in Jackson County. The Harwick name appeared twice, Young said. Iverson's name didn't.

Alice Harwick, the next-door neighbor of Iverson, was questioned about the pants. She said that she and her husband each had a pair of the pants, but she no longer possessed her pair. Alice was questioned in the presence of her daughter, Cassie, and Cassie told authorities that her brother, Dustin, had a pair of the wind pants.

Later Dustin and his father, Timothy, consented to provide a DNA sample with a swab inside the mouth. The Wisconsin State Crime Lab positively matched the sample provided by Dustin to the DNA found inside the waistband of the wind pants.

Dustin was arrested March 5 at Logan High School in La Crosse, where he was a freshman after moving to live with his father in the town of Campbell in La Crosse County.

At the bond hearing held in Jackson County Circuit Court on March 6, Harwick appeared with his attorney, Bill Poss. Judge Gerald Laabs asked Assistant District Attorney Marge Rewald what she recommended for bail.

Rewald said she recommended a "substantial cash bond," but failed to provide any specific numbers.

Laabs then questioned Poss for his recommendation. Poss stated that he felt $25,000 cash bond was appropriate. Laabs looked again to Rewald and said that, considering the charges, it would be possible to hold Harwick without bail. Rewald did not reply.

Laabs set bond at $50,000 and waived the limits of the preliminary hearing. A pretrial conference is set for 9 a.m. March 18.

The Chippewa Herald

BLACK RIVER FALLS (AP) -- A 16-year-old boy has admitted he stabbed a neighbor to death and has received a mandatory life sentence.

Dustin W. Harwick pleaded guilty Friday in Jackson County Court to first-degree intentional homicide in a deal reached with prosecutors.

In exchange, the rural Black River Falls boy will be eligible for parole on March 5, 2033. The charge could have carried a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Sandra Iverson, 36, was found stabbed to death on Aug. 2, 2002, in her Town of Brockway mobile home.

Harwick, then 14, lived next door to Iverson at the time of the crime, but has since moved to the La Crosse area.

Police traced the crime back to Harwick after they found Iverson's purse, a pair of bloodstained wind pants, and a serrated knife in the woods behind the homes.

Harwick was tried as an adult, despite his attorney's efforts to move the case into juvenile court.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Gerald Laabs said the killing was a planned, brutal act, but said he wasn't sure whether Harwick was remorseful.

"I did take into consideration that he has no criminal record, he wasn't a problem with his parents or community, and that he functioned normally in school," he said.

Harwick showed little emotion in court Friday.