BURNETT COUNTY -- A criminal complaint has been filed charging a former Burnett County Medical Examiner with stealing cash from a deceased person’s wallet while performing her duties at the scene of the death.

Burnett County authorities, including Sheriff’s Deputies and Medical Examiners, responded to the scene of a death in November 2020. A Burnett County Sheriff’s Deputy’s body camera showed a wallet being removed from the deceased person’s pocket and also showed that there were multiple $100 bills located in the wallet.

Former Medical Examiner Sara Stadler is also captured on the video footage, handling the wallet and cash. Funeral home staff members who were at the scene of the death offered to take the wallet into their possession and provide it to the family of the deceased the next morning, according to the criminal complaint filed against Stadler. Stadler told them no, and stated that the Medical Examiner’s Office had a policy about taking possession of cash and bringing it to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Burnett County Sheriff’s Investigators were later advised by Human Resources that there is no such policy. The criminal complaint states that the Medical Examiner’s report did not mention recovering a wallet or billfold from the scene, or of any cash being counted, and no property report log was filled out regarding any cash.

When Stadler was asked to bring the wallet to the funeral home to give it to the family, she stated that she could not make it at that time, but that she would mail it. The criminal complaint goes on to state that approximately two weeks later, a family member of the deceased came to the funeral home to ask about the wallet as it had still not been received. Funeral home staff contacted the Medical Examiner’s office, and asked about the location of the wallet. Another Burnett County Medical Examiner checked the safe at the Medical Examiner’s office where the wallet should have been, but did not find it. Stadler was contacted about the wallet, and she advised that it was in a manila envelope in a cupboard at the office. The criminal complaint states that the wallet was found, but there was no cash inside the wallet; only an ID and a social security card.

Criminal charges were filed against Stadler in August 2021, including Class I Felony failure of a public employee to perform non-discretionary or ministerial duty; and Class G Felony theft from the person of another or from a corpse. Online circuit court records show that Stadler is scheduled to make an initial appearance on her charges in October 2021.

A Burnett County online staff directory indicates that Stadler is no longer a member of the Burnett County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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