Homicide in Oconomowoc: Stanley Van Wagner's wife arrested & charged nine months later
OCONOMOWOC -- An arrest has been made, and charges have been filed in connection with the death of Stanley Van Wagner. Van Wagner was found dead in the basement of his Oconomowoc home in May 2015. Police say he was shot with a .380 caliber handgun. Investigators do not believe Stanley was killed in the basement. They believe his body was dragged there from upstairs after the shooting.
Amy Van Wagner
Amy Van Wagner, the victim's wife, was taken into custody early Wednesday morning, February 24th, 2016 by Oconomowoc police -- nine months after her husband was found dead.
Oconomowoc police raided the Van Wagner home around 5:00 a.m. -- getting help from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department's "Tactical Unit."
Amy Van Wagner was taken into custody without incident -- but police say flash bang devices were used as officers first entered the home.
"We heard two loud booms. It sounded like dynamite going off," neighbor Tom Shaw said.
The couple's 16-year-old son was in the home at the time of his mother's arrest. He was taken into protective custody. No one else was in the home.
Amy Van Wagner is now facing the following charges:
Oconomowoc police were first called out to the Van Wagner home on Sunday evening, May 17th, 2015, shortly before 7:00 p.m.
Officials said Van Wagner's wife found her husband's body in the basement and contacted a neighbor, who then notified police.
According to the criminal complaint, the neighbor told police he went over to the Van Wagner's home across the street after Amy Van Wagner came to his home asking for help, indicating that she thought she found her husband in the basement unresponsive.
The neighbor told police he observed an individual lying on the basement floor covered in a tarp.
Stanley Van Wagner
The complaint indicates responding officers found Stanley Van Wagner suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Investigators found a computer and a pillow near Van Wagner's body with bullet holes in them.
Stanley Van Wagner was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the complaint, Amy Van Wagner said she had gone down to the basement on May 17th to start a load of laundry, and she wanted to get some sewing/craft items from a room in the basement where Stanley was found. The door was closed and locked, and Amy told investigators she found that odd because the door was usually never locked. Amy said she went upstairs to get a tool to open the door, and when she came back down and opened the door, she saw Stanley in the room under the tarp. She then went to the neighbor's home.
The complaint says Amy Van Wagner told investigators she hadn't removed anything from the basement area. When investigators called Stanley Van Wagner's cell phone, it went straight to voicemail. It wasn't located at the home.
Amy Van Wagner allowed investigators to perform an initial search of the home, according to the complaint. There was no sign of forced entry to the home.
Amy Van Wagner
The next day, officials conducted a more thorough search of the Van Wagner residence. Stanley Van Wagner's missing cell phone and some missing firearms were not located.
Investigators learned Stanley Van Wagner had kept "several" handguns and rifles in the home -- secured in a gun safe, with one gun kept in a nightstand in the bedroom. Amy Van Wagner told investigators her husband owned an older .22 caliber rifle, a hunting rifle, a .223 caliber rifle, a shotgun, two .380 caliber handguns, a .45 caliber revolver and a small derringer revolver.
Amy Van Wagner indicated only Stanley knew the combination for the safe, and where the key for the safe was kept. According to the complaint, Amy Van Wagner said Stanley had accused her of taking money out of the safe without his permission, which is why only he knew how to access the safe.
According to the complaint, Amy Van Wagner indicated she hadn't seen Stanley since the Friday morning (May 15th) before he was found dead -- something she said wasn't uncommon because of their busy schedules.
The complaint indicates during a search of the home, two shell casings were located in the office upstairs, along with blood, a hole in the drywall, and an empty leather handgun holster lying on the floor near the gun safe.
Officials with the Wisconsin State Crime Lab came to the home for a search, and found two fired bullets in the office, which were identified as .380 caliber bullets, and a large blood stain under an ottoman and rug in the basement. According to the complaint, investigators noted that it "appeared someone placed the rug over the blood stain to conceal it."
Van Wagner home in Oconomowoc
Investigators noted that it "appeared Stanley Van Wagner was shot in the office (upstairs), and dragged downstairs to the basement, where his body was "found" by Amy Van Wagner.
Two days after Stanley Van Wagner's death, investigators interviewed Amy Van Wagner again. She further re-iterated that she hadn't seen Stanley since Friday, May 15th -- two days before he was found dead.
The 16-year-old son of Stanley Van Wagner and Amy Van Wagner told investigators the last time he had seen his dad was Wednesday, May 13th or Thursday, May 14th.
A friend of Stanley Van Wagner told investigators he tried calling Van Wagner on May 15th, and that Amy Van Wagner called him back and said Stanley was sick, which he said he thought was odd because Stanley "never called in sick," according to the complaint. Stanley Van Wagner's employer reported there was no record of Stanley calling in sick on May 15th. A co-worker told Van Wagner's boss he had received a text message from Stanley indicating he was "sick as a dog."
The complaint indicates investigators seized and searched Amy Van Wagner's work computer. It was noted that on May 15th, Amy Van Wagner searched for a rental carpet cleaner using an "in private" browser function that allows searching without leaving any evidence of search history.
According to the complaint, investigators learned Amy Van Wagner has a concealed carry permit and that she sometimes carried a .380 handgun.
The complaint indicates investigators learned the three recovered fired .380 caliber bullets in this case were fired from the same firearm. All of the fired bullets and shell casings had characteristics similar to a .380 handgun belonging to Amy Van Wagner.
According to the complaint, investigators also learned Stanley Van Wagner's cell phone pinged a tower near Amy Van Wagner's workplace on the morning of May 15th.
The complaint makes reference to ATM withdrawals made from Stanley Van Wagner's account between May 15th and May 18th. Amy Van Wagner was seen on video at at least one of the banks, making withdrawals.
Amy Van Wagner is currently being held in the Waukesha County Jail. She will be in court for her preliminary hearing on March 4th. Bail has been set at $100,000.
This incident was the first homicide in Oconomowoc in at least six years.
Police said their investigation into this case was hampered by uncooperative family members, including Amy Van Wagner.
Oconomowoc home on Elm Street