Public meeting Wednesday night to discuss recent violence in Kenosha

Kenosha Police Department

Kenosha Police Department

KENOSHA — Neighbors gathered in Kenosha Wednesday evening, August 22nd to discuss an uptick in violence following two homicides. Dozens gathered inside a building in Kenosha’s Lincoln Park to voice their concerns.

20-year-old Lashe Zalar’s body was found at Kenosha’s Nedweski Park after firefighters put out a grass fire there on July 9, 2012. Joshua Braithwaite has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed Zalar.

The criminal complaint against Braithwaite indicates Zalar’s body was found “nude except for a garment bundled up around her neck and a pair of burned shoes on her feet.” Investigators say she had been sexually assaulted. Her neck was bruised and her throat was slashed. An autopsy showed Zalar died in a fire set on her body with a flammable liquid. 

Officials say Braithwaite’s DNA was found on Zalar’s body. Braithwaite has been charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Zalar.

Kenosha police are also investigating the death of 26-year-old Lisa Mezera, whose body was found in a cemetery in the Town of Somers. Police are calling this case a homicide.

Officials have not named a suspect in this case. But they do have a person of interest. But the Kenosha County Sheriff says that person is already in custody for another crime that does not have anything to do with this investigation.

Officials say the Mezera homicide case and Zalar homicide case are not related.

Concerns discussed Wednesday night included quality of life issues and police response.

“Patrols go up for a week or two weeks, and I feel like it’s just to pacify us,” one neighbor said.

“There’s only so many times before you call and you just say ‘forget it,'” another neighbor said.

Law enforcement officials say they’re doing the best they can with fewer resources. They stressed the importance of neighborhood watch groups. They insist crime is down over the past five years.

“Kenosha is safe. It’s just had some bad luck lately. We need to do a good job of looking out for each other,” one law enforcement official said.

“You don’t want to see anyone around this community get murdered or hurt period,” another neighbor said.

The recent murders were not the focus of Wednesday night’s meeting — an indication that perhaps neighbors feel the murders are not representative of the usual crime trends in the area.

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