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'Bring closure for John’s family': Search for suspects continues in killing of Wauwatosa man at Devil's Lake

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 18:37:58-05

SAUK COUNTY — The Sauk County Sheriff's Office is pleading for help from residents to find the suspect who stabbed a Wauwatosa man to death at Devil's Lake last October.

John Craig Schmutzer, 24 of Wauwatosa, was hiking alone in Devil's Lake State Park on Oct. 14 when he was stabbed and died from his wounds.

On Wednesday, just over a month since the killing, the Sauk County Sheriff said during a press conference that they are still looking for leads to identify and find the suspect behind Schmutzer's death. Fellow hikers of Devil's Lake on the day of the killing and in the weeks preceding are likely the best source of clues, Sauk County Chip Meister explained.

Potential witnesses are being asked Wednesday to recall events they may have seen, whether that be around 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 14 at the park, or any "unusual encounters" they may have had with people at the park in the days leading up to Schmutzer's death.

View Sauk County's Wednesday press conference below:

Meister continued that the person who stabbed Schmutzer may also be a danger to himself or others. The Office went into detail regarding the suspect, who may be showing signs of instability in the days or weeks leading up to the killing, including experiencing a change in relationship, employment, schooling or another life-changing event.

"This individual is likely to become increasingly angry and abusive. He may exhibit poor ability to control his emotions and has the potential to act impulsively and disregard possible consequences," according to a statement from the Office Wednesday.

The Office adds the suspect may have hurt him or herself in the act of stabbing Schmutzer, and may have blood on his clothes or sought treatment for injuries.

"Please… help us identify this individual and bring closure for John’s family, who have lost their warm, kind, thoughtful, generous and bright son," according to the Office.

If you know someone who could fit this description and who could have been in the area of Devil’s Lake Park, you are asked to call the tip line at 1-888-847-7285. Callers can remain anonymous, and may be eligible for a reward through Sauk County Crime Stoppers, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office added in its note Wednesday that Schmutzer graduated high school from Wauwatosa West in 2014, attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018, and traveled to New York City for a year and then returned to Wauwatosa and was working in the financial field at the time of his death.

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