WAUSAU PILOT AND REVIEW
A former Wisconsin dairy princess convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend’s fiancee in a case featured in a made-for-TV movie is about to be released from prison.
The Wisconsin Parole Commission has granted release for Lori Esker, who is now 50. Esker will be released Tuesday from a correctional facility in Racine County.
Esker was convicted in 1990 of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Lisa Cihaski. The 21-year-old woman was strangled with a belt in a car in a Rib Mountain motel parking lot in 1989.
Cihaski was engaged to Esker’s former boyfriend. Witnesses testified the Marathon County dairy princess was obsessive and still wanted a relationship with the man.
In his 1989 report, then-Sheriff`s Deputy Randy Hoenisch said that Esker told him she rented a car on the night of Sept. 20 and drove from the River Falls campus to see Cihaski. Esker said she confronted Cihaski in the motel parking lot as she left work. The two women sat in Cihaski`s car and talked.
According to Hoenisch`s report, the conversation became heated when Esker implied that she was pregnant by Buss. Esker told him she and Chiaski exchanged insults.
The two women struggled. Esker took a belt lying on the back seat and wrapped it around Cihaski`s neck, according to the deputy`s report.
Esker said she didn`t know if Cihaski ”was dead or just passed out,”
the report continued. She held a mirror to Cihaski`s face to see if she was breathing, the report said. She wasn`t.
”I thought, `Oh my God, I`ve killed her. I don`t know what I`m going to do. I didn`t mean to hurt her. Her parents are going to think I did it on purpose.` ” the report said.
Hoenisch stated that when he asked Esker to demonstrate what happened during the struggle, she ”was not at all shy or hesitant how she did this. As a matter of fact, she had me off my chair and up against the wall in the the interview room.”
Lori Esker, Hoenisch concluded, ”is a strong, powerful woman.”
When Esker left the car, he said, she took the belt and a ring Cihaski was wearing. She later threw the belt into the incinerator chute at her dormitory and the ring into the trash barrel at a convenience store.
In her hometown of Hatley, just east of Wausau, Esker had been regarded as an exemplary young woman, the daughter of a local farm family that traces its lineage on Wisconsin farmland back 110 years.
She was a member of the National Honor Society in high school, president of the student council, and served in leadership positions in the 4-H Club, Future Farmers of America and Future Business Leaders of America. Esker owned a dozen or so dairy cows she tended on weekends.
She was named Dairy Princess of Marathon County this summer, and made more than 100 appearances in the role.
The case was featured in the TV movie “Beauty’s Revenge” which aired on NBC and Lifetime.
The Associated Press contributed to this story