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Amy Van Wagner found GUILTY in death of husband, Stanley Van Wagner

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WAUKESHA COUNTY -- The jury on Monday, March 13th reached a verdict in the case of Amy Van Wagner, the Oconomowoc woman accused in the murder of her husband, Stanley.

Amy Van Wagner is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.

The jury found Amy Van Wagner GUILTY on both counts. She will be sentenced on May 24th.

The verdict came after nine days of testimony, three hours of closing statements and six hours of deliberations.

"Extremely difficult case all around for the family members to absorb. The loss of their father and now the conviction of their mother," Susan Opper, Waukesha County district attorney said.

Prosecutors said it was the deerskin rug that Van Wagner placed over a large stain of Stanley's blood in the early morning hours of May 15th that ultimately won the case.

"That had to be down there at 5:30 in the morning, so therefore the blood had to be there at 5:30 in the morning. I think that's probably the most compelling thing," Opper said.

Van Wagner's attorney said his client and her three children are devastated.

"They've all known she was innocent and they believe that and that's why they're sad," John Schiro, defense attorney said.

Van Wagner's attorney said he plans to appeal.

Amy Van Wagner

During closing arguments, in a final chance to prove Amy Van Wagner murdered her husband in the early morning hours of May 15, 2015, the state reminded the jury of the evidence stacked against her.

"The murder weapon is a 380 handgun. Exactly the weapon that she was seen and known to carry," said prosecutor Susan Opper.

Prosecutors say the 53-year-old woman also had a motive -- Van Wagner needed access to her husband's personal bank account so that she could reimburse friends she had borrowed money from behind Stanley Van Wagner's back.

Susan Opper, prosecutor

"People are prodding her, pushing her, you got to pay me back," Opper said.

"That's hardly a motive," said defense attorney

John Schiro, defense attorney

Stanley Van Wagner

The defense used its final time with the jury to poke holes in the state's theory -- that Amy Van Wagner shot her husband multiple times in their Oconomowoc home, wrapped his body in a tarp, and dragged him to the basement to hide the body -- all while their son was asleep upstairs.

"Not a single person heard a peep, including someone inside the house," Schiro said.

Van Wagner's attorney also said investigators did not find any evidence of blood in the house -- aside from the spot where Stanley was shot.

"You know what that suggests? If he wasn't dragged, then he was carried. And if there's anyone who thinks Amy Van Wagner did that, they have a different perspective than I do," Schiro said.

Oconomowoc police were first called out to the Van Wagner home on Sunday evening, May 17th, 2015,  shortly before 7:00 p.m.

Van Wagner home in Oconomowoc

Van Wagner home in Oconomowoc

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 was pronounced dead at the scene.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.

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.

Amy Van Wagner

Amy Van Wagner

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.

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.

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."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.

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.

Amy Van Wagner

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.

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 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.

Amy Van Wagner

Amy Van Wagner

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 least one of the banks, making withdrawals.

Amy Van Wagner is currently being held in the Waukesha County Jail. 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.

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