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DNR finishes cleanup of fugitive’s bunker

in Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources this week dismantled and cleared the property where a fugitive wanted for three years on child sex charges was hiding near the Ice Age Trail in Ringle.

The makeshift bunker, discovered by a Wausau man, was occupied by 44-year-old Jeremiah Button. Police say Button disappeared in February 2016 just weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial on child sexual assault and child pornography charges.

The Marathon County Sheriff’s Office arrested the fugitive on Aug. 9 and transferred him to Portage County where he remains in jail, awaiting prosecution.

Button intended to avoid contact with authorities, who had followed up on tips, said DNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller. This level of illegal camping or stay on state property is unique and highly unusual.

“Over the past several months, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office and the DNR had received sporadic and vague information on the property,” Schaller said. “The Marathon County Sheriff’s Office and the DNR checked and monitored the area without locating anything or signs of illegal or suspicious activity. The individual was very intentional about not being detected or the bunker being visible or found.”

On Aug. 21, DNR staff removed several loads of trash and disposed of it at the Marathon County Landfill, the same location from where the material was scavenged. Staff also dismantled the bunker to eliminate any ongoing safety concerns.

Jeremiah Button booking photo, courtesy of the Portage County Sheriff’s Department

“Taking care of the environment is what the DNR does,” said Schaller, adding that the costs of removing the materials are part of the department’s budget. “And we appreciate the teamwork of Marathon County and its use of their landfills.”

Top image: In this undated image made from video provided by WSAW-TV, authorities investigate a makeshift bunker in the township of Ringle, Wis. A Wisconsin fugitive is in custody after a hunter discovered him hiding in the makeshift bunker in the woods. (WSAW-TV via AP)

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