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New details revealed in last year’s Devil’s Lake homicide

John Craig Schmutzer, 24
John Craig Schmutzer, 24(Sauk Co. Sheriff's Office)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 2:35 PM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A man was running “frantically” and “out of control” through Devil’s Lake Park, falling down several times as he went, on the October day that John Schmutzer was killed, multiple witnesses have told investigators.

The witnesses claimed they were not far from South Lake Rd., near the Group Camp and CCC Trail, or along the East Bluff Trail when they saw the individual sprinting north from the group camp’s parking lot and darting in front of vehicles, according to the Sauk Co. Sheriff’s Office. Investigators assume he was headed onto or near the Grottos Trail, then planned to go north on the East Bluff trail to the north shore of the lake.

Their recollections were detailed Wednesday as the Sheriff’s Office revealed new information about its investigation. Investigators indicated the man is considered a person of interest in the case and are asking anyone with information on the killing to reach out to authorities.

The witnesses described the man as standing approximately six feet tall, with an average build, darker colored ripped pants, and a dark top that may have been a hoodie.

The Sheriff’s Office has previously stated whoever is responsible for Schmutzer’s death may be a danger to himself or others. The individual may also have been exhibiting signs of instability prior to the October 14 killing and showing signs of afterwards, even possibly becoming increasingly angry or violent.

Since then, he may have also changed his appearance or left the area completely.

As the six-month mark passes since Schmutzer’s death, the Sheriff’s Office noted that it has received hundreds of tips so far, some of which led to its identification of the person of interest. It has also conducted an even higher number of interviews and executed “many” search warrants. It described the public as being very forthcoming in their help.

Schmutzer, 24, was found on the morning of October 14 near the Grottos trail on the south side of the park, outside of Baraboo. Authorities say the victim was found bleeding on the railroad tracks in the park. An autopsy indicated he died as the result of a stabbing.

If anyone has information about who or where this person may be, they’re asked to call Sauk County Crime Stoppers at 1-888-847-7285.

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