BURNETT COUNTY -- A man is facing criminal charges in Burnett County following a recent house fire at a residence on Main Street in the Town of Swiss.
Geoffrey Wegleitner is charged with Class C Felony Arson of Building, Class E Felony Armed Burglary, Class I Felony Mistreatment of Animals-resulting in the animal’s death, and Misdemeanor Theft.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Wegleitner, on December 5, 2018, at around 4p, a residential structure fire was discovered on Main Street in the Town of Swiss. The fire was initially spotted by a neighbor, who also saw a silver SUV leaving the residence, being driven by a white male in his 20’s. The homeowner also arrived home from work at that time and saw the same vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed down the driveway.
The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office and the Danbury Fire Department responded to the fire, and Special Agents of the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation assisted with the investigation of the fire.
It was determined that there were multiple areas of origin within the fire scene and the fire was classified as incendiary. Details as to the total damage to the residence are not known to DrydenWire.com at the time of this post.
Investigators also located a small dog deceased inside the residence. The homeowner confirmed that the dog was her pet and that the dog had been alive and well when she had left for work morning. The homeowner stated to investigators that her garage had been broken into a couple weeks prior to this incident.
The following day, December 6, 2018, investigators spoke with a manager at Wayne’s Food and Log Cabin Store in Danbury who advised that a male subject had been in the store begging for money for fuel. When investigators reviewed surveillance footage, they could see a male subject inside the store, as well as footage of a silver SUV that matched the description of the vehicle leaving the scene of the residence fire being pushed to the fuel pumps.
The criminal complaint goes on to state that on December 6, 2018, a Pine County Deputy advised the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office that Wegleitner had been placed under arrest following an incident during which he became disorderly. Burnett County Investigators were also advised that Wegleitner was stating that he had burglarized a residence, set it on fire, and stolen a vehicle and that he wanted to talk to an investigator.
When Wegleitner was placed under arrest in Pine County, he was found to be in possession of a wallet and credit cards, along with wedding rings, and a .38 handgun; the homeowner of the residence where the fire occurred identified the items as belonging to her and went on to state that the wallet and credit cards belonged to her late husband and that those items had been in the residence prior to the fire.
When Burnett County Investigators interviewed Wegleitner he allegedly admitted to burglarizing the residence, removing multiple items from the residence, and setting it on fire. Wegleitner went on to describe where he had hidden numerous valuable items in the woods and behind neighboring residences on Main Street. When investigators conducted a search of the area around the residence, they found several suitcases and duffel bags containing property related to the residence where the fire had occurred.
Also on December 6, 2018, the homeowner was advised by her bank that multiple fraudulent charges had been made on a debit card that had belonged to her late husband.
If convicted as charged, Wegleitner faces a maximum penalty of 40 years confinement in state prison for the charge of Class C Felony Arson of Building, 15 years incarceration for the charge of Class E Felony Armed Burglary, 3 years and 6 months confinement for the charge of Class I Felony Mistreatment of Animals-resulting in the animal’s death, and 9 months confinement for the charge of Misdemeanor Theft.
According to online circuit court records, a warrant for Wegleitner’s arrest was filed with the criminal complaint filed against him. The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed to DrydenWire.com that Wegleitner remains in the custody of the Pine County Sheriff’s Department, awaiting extradition to Wisconsin.
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.