Eau Claire County Sheriff Cramer: “We would have like to have gotten him into custody without him harming himself, but unfortunately, he decided to take his own life.”  

     Sheriff Ron Cramer at a news conference this afternoon, talking about finding the body of kidnapping suspect Mitchell Owens.   He was found about a half mile away from the Zion Lutheran Church in Fall Creek.

     Evacuees near the search area have been allowed to return home.  The body of Mitchell Owens was found about a half mile from the staging area used by the Eau Claire Sheriffs Department at Zion Lutheran Church.

     Sheriff Cramer says the body was found this afternoon by a tactical team sweeping the blocked off area.  He says the department believes Owens took his own life around 1:30pm yesterday afternoon when a gunshot was heard near the church grounds.  The sheriff says there were no shots fired by officers.

     More than 200 officers and 30 agencies helped in finding Owens  Owens was wanted for kidnapping a Walmart employee from Muckwonago.

     Cramer says using the tactical team to sweep the area was a last resort because of how high risk entering the woods on foot would be for officers.  “Containment was key to this successful case, unfortunately I have to report to you Mitchell was found deceased this afternoon after a coordinated search by the Eau Claire Police Department’s Tactical Team and the Sheriff Department’s Regional Team.  They did a final push in a heavily wooded area and found Mitchell and the rifle suspected that he had.  We want to let citizens know that it was unfortunate that we had to evacuate the square blocks behind you, thanks to the residents for their understanding and quite frankly their support for the operation.  We received many positive comments from the citizens even though they were asked to leave there homes.”