On The Case With Paula Zahn is investigating the murder of Jody Ricard, who was bashed to death by Michael LaGrew in Bayfield County, Wisconsin, in 2003.
LaGrew was the tribal Vice Chairman of the Red Cliff Reservation, and Ricard was working as an administrator for a family literacy program when the two began arguing over her work.
The conflict culminated in Ricard’s murder, and it would take nearly two decades before LaGrew would finally see the inside of a courtroom.
On June 27, 2003, Ricard called her husband to say she was meeting LaGrew and that she didn’t trust him. Ricard’s instincts were tragically correct.
LaGrew drove Ricard out to a secluded area near the town of Russell, WI, where the pair argued about Ricard’s work. LaGrew would later claim that he wanted to fire her. But at some point, he grabbed a trailer jack from the back of his truck and bashed her in the head.
The killer then hid Ricard’s body under a discarded Christmas tree and some branches.
An extensive search for Ricard ended eleven days later when her body was discovered. She had been 50 years old.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
Michael LaGrew avoided capture for 17 years
At the time, the police interviewed LaGrew, and he even testified at a judicial proceeding in 2005, but the police could not pin the murder on him.
It took until March 2020 before LaGrew was finally arrested and charged with murder. On his arrest, he told officers, “Yeah, you got me,” and “I did it.”
In February 2022, at 57 years old, LaGrew was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Judge Kelly McKnight rejected a petition for parole after 20 years because of the seriousness of the crime and the length it took to bring the killer to justice.
Judge denied Michael LaGrew parole for Jody Ricard killing
Judge McKnight said, “He’s already had 17 years of freedom, which, frankly, I think he should be thankful for because the family of the victim didn’t get to experience that.”
At the sentencing, Ricard’s son, David Niesel, said, “We are wounded. Some people talk about closure. People who have not lived through what we have cannot comprehend what we live with every day. There really is no such thing as closure. We’ll never be whole again.”
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.