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Wisconsin Fugitive Hides in Bunker for 3 Years

Hunter found Jeremiah Button's hideout
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2019 2:05 AM CDT
Authorities investigate a makeshift bunker in the township of Ringle, Wis.   (WSAW-TV via AP)

(Newser) – A Wisconsin fugitive hid out for more than three years in a makeshift bunker powered by solar panels and a pedal generator before a hunter stumbled onto him last week, police said. WSAW reports that several months ago Thomas Nelson of Wausau found a bunker with a log door carved into an embankment on state land in the township of Ringle west of Wausau, about 145 miles north of Madison. He became curious and returned to the bunker on Friday morning to see what was inside. The door was unlatched so he went inside. He discovered 44-year-old Jeremiah Button, who disappeared in Feb. 2016, just weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial on child sexual assault and child pornography charges. Nelson moved away and called police, guiding them to the bunker's door.

A 20-minute stand-off ensued before Button surrendered. Marathon County Sheriff's Deputy Matt Kecker says Button seemed almost glad for human interaction. Kecker says Button told deputies that he had been building the bunker while his case was moving through court, stockpiling it with items he found in the county landfill. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Stefonek says Button set up solar panels on the bunker's roof to power LED lights, radios, cooling fans, and all manner of electronic equipment. He also had a pedal-powered generator for cloudy days. The bunker was small enough that it stayed warm in winter and cool in summer, the AP reports. "He was not only surviving, but thriving in this structure through all of the different supplies he was able to find," Stefonek says. Button is back in custody on a $100,000 cash bond.

(Read more Wisconsin stories.)

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