2 Wis. inmates suspected of armed crime spree while on run, may be in Minn.

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 20, 2012 - 2:37 PM
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James C. Misleveck, left, and James R. Newman are suspected of a crime spree while on the run after leaving a Wisconsin boot camp for offenders.

Photo: Jackson County (Wis.) Sheriff's Office,

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Two inmates remained on the run Friday afternoon from a west-central Wisconsin boot camp, suspected of arming themselves with a stolen shotgun, kidnapping a casino worker and stealing vehicles while possibly making their way to Minnesota, authorities said.

James Cody Misleveck, 18, of Juneau County, and James R. Newman, 29, of Brown County, walked away from the state-operated Black River Correctional Center boot camp in Komensky Township on Tuesday and were seen that night wearing tan T-shirts and gray shorts, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Their brief time as fugitives from the unlocked minimum-security prison has been busy, with authorities suspecting them of stealing vehicles and kidnapping Deb Lozano from a casino and later robbing her of several hundred dollars.

Misleveck is described as white, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds with a shaved head or very short brown hair and brown eyes. His left ear is pierced. His criminal history includes burglary, theft and arson.

Newman is described as white, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 165 pounds, with a shaved head or very short brown hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of praying hands on his right arm. His criminal history includes a firearms violation and fourth-degree sexual assault.

Both men are believed to have been in contact with women since their escape, the Sheriff's Office said.

A national police alert has been issued and international border patrol points have been notified to be on the lookout for the fugitivies, said Jackson County Sgt. Patrick LaBarbera.

"They could be two hours from here or two days from here," LaBarbera said.

Lozano was picked at random by her captors and carjacked as she arrived for work, the sergeant said, and she came away unharmed physically because "she personalized herself. ... We think that helped in securing her safety."

LaBarbera said Lozano "talked about her grandchildren, she talked about herself. She made small talk with them. ... They explained they were escapees from the correctional center and said they were going to Minnesota."

In a statement issued through her employer, Lozano said, "I am glad that it was me and not anyone else. I hope that law enforcement catches these guys as soon as possible and that nobody gets hurt."

According to authorities:

After fleeing the boot camp on foot, the two stole a 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition from a nearby vehicle. They then walked to the Brockway Township area and stole a Ford Ranger pickup truck.

The two drove to the Majestic Pines Casino and Bingo in Black River Falls, where they kidnapped Lozano, stole her Mercury Mountaineer and abandoned the pickup. Left in the truck was Misleveck's inmate identification card.

Lozano was released at some point and told authorities that the duo pointed the shotgun at her, ordered her to the backseat and asked her how to get to the interstate because they wanted to go to Minnesota.

The two and Lozano rode 30 miles south to Tomah and started checking parked vehicles in a Walmart, then did the same at the Walmart 17 miles to the west in Sparta.

While still in Sparta, they ordered Lozano to buy them cigarettes at a KwikTrip convenience store. The two men robbed Lozano of $500 and ran from the store to nearby Northern Engraving and stole a pickup.

They were spotted driving back toward Tomah on I-90, and officers for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and the State Patrol began chasing them.

The pursuit ended in a cornfield near Tomah, where the two fled on foot and left the stolen shotgun in the truck.

Sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday, Misleveck and Newman stole a 1996 black Chrysler Concorde, Wisconsin license plate 728TDX. There have been no sightings of the fugitives since.

LaBarbera said it's been at least three of four years since anyone has walked away from the correctional center, which is in the middle of Black River State Forest in eastern Jackson County and has a capacity of 105 inmates.

"That area ... is very rural, heavily wooded," the sergeant said. "A lot of guys choose not to leave there."

Anyone with information about this case is urged to either call 911 or the Jackson County Sheriff's Office at 1-715-284-5357.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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