Portage Murders - Jailhouse Interview w/Candace Clark, Cult Accusation
06-24-2007 - 3:41PM - from C3K To Go - News 3 Reports - [video version] at data.c3ktogo.com on June 24, 2007 - 11 views
Abuse, Murder, Child Abductee Found in One House 6/16
Silvia Acevedo, Jenn Rourke & AP
PORTAGE - The woman, whose body was found buried in a yard after officers investigating a child abduction case went to a Portage home, appears to have been strangled. She also appeared to have sustained numerous injuries suggesting she was physically abused, the Columbia County medical examiner said Saturday.
Medical examiner Marc T. Playman commented after an autopsy by Dr. Mark Witeck, a forensic pathologist.
Police found an 11-year-old boy at the home who was malnourished and had been severely tortured.
Playman said the woman, whose body was found Friday, was believed to have been the boy's 37-year-old mother, but he was awaiting fingerprint and possibly DNA analysis to make a positive determination.
The body was found after the woman's children -- the 11-year-old boy and a 15-year-old daughter -- told police she went missing around Memorial Day. The daughter said, after lengthy questioning, that her mother might have been buried. A cadaver dog helped authorities locate the burial spot.
According to police, four adults, including the woman who died, and five children had lived at the home since February. Before that, the group lived in many states, including Florida, Tennessee, Maine and Colorado, and had stayed in motels in the Wisconsin Dells area.
Police were originally called to the home Thursday afternoon on a report from Florida that an abducted 2-year-old girl could be living there with her mother.
Authorities found six people: two women, the 15-year-old girl and three young girls. The 2-year-old abducted from Lake County, Florida, a 1-year-old and a 3-month-old girl were believed to be the daughters of one of the women.
Police Chief Ken Manthey said the women gave false information about their identities and were taken to the police department with the children.
Investigators then learned a boy was still at the residence, and officers found him locked in a closet and covered with severe burns.
Police Lt. Mark Hahn said the boy had been tortured and burned with scalding water as punishment for failing to clean, and he also appeared to have been regularly locked in a closet.
“The diagnosis is definite abuse, definite serial child torture, profound malnutrition of a child consistent with chronic medical neglect,” one investigator said.
The boy was taken to University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. He is listed in guarded condition and will likely face a long recovery. The three small girls were placed in protective custody.
Authorities said the boy had been tortured; sprayed with boiling water, whipped with electrical cords and nearly starved. His condition resembles pictures of those coming out of concentration camps at the end of World War II, Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said.
"It's horrible what we're seeing," she said.
Police arrested the two women in the house on suspicion of obstruction of justice and physical abuse of a child.
They were identified, as Candace Clark, 23, and Michaela Clerc, 20. Clark is believed to be the mother of the three small children.
Clark's daughter, Courtney Alisa Clark, 2, was reported missing in Florida last September. It was that investigation that led authorities to the home in Portage. Florida authorities believed the girl was abducted by her mother.
WESH-TV in Orlando said Candance Clark went to the home of the foster family where her daughter was living and told the family that all charges against her had been dropped. So the family gave her the child.
Michael SiskMichael Sisk, 25, escaped from the Portage residence Thursday when police wanted to question him. Sisk was arrested in Milwaukee Friday afternoon getting off a Greyhound bus. Milwaukee police said he was wanted for felony child abuse.
Manthey said 11-year-old boy's condition shocked veteran police personnel.
Pictures shown to reporters, but not for publication, showed apparent burns on top of the boy's head with blistering and mangled feet and hands.
"Lt. (Tom) Moore was at the scene and said it was the worst he'd seen in 36 years," the chief said. "It's the worst I've seen in 30."
Neighbors said they used to see the boy walking to school but hadn't seen him in awhile.
One neighbor, whose apartment window overlooks the back yard, was shocked at the discovery there. "This little boy's getting abused, and they're carrying a dead body out and burying it, and you're sleeping right there," said Michelle Nellis. "To know that you live next door to someone that got murdered, it's sickening."
Two Portage residents who don't live in the neighborhood stopped by to place flowers and a stuffed animal at the stoop, remembering "how innocent he was and how someone could treat him like that," said Ashley Leblow. "I mean, he's just an 11-year-old boy."
"I don't know how sick a human being could be to do this," said Adam Carpenter of Portage. "It's just really wrong."
The children were taken into protective custody. The three adults were in custody at the Columbia County Jail.
Playman said Saturday the death remained under investigation by local and state authorities.
Portage is in south-central Wisconsin, about 50 miles north of Madison.