Rhinelander Police clear investigation into Hodag statue and theft
Two men referred to Oneida County DA
By Eileen Persike, Editor
Less than one week after the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce staff reported vandalism to the Hodag statue outside their building, the Rhinelander Police Department’s investigation is complete.
According to a press release issued Dec. 22 by Police Chief Michael Steffes, two men, 27-year old Jordan G. Henk of Rhinelander and 31-year old Evan R. Christiansen of Madison, will be referred to the Oneida County District Attorney’s office for theft and criminal damage to property. Henk sent an emailed letter of apology to the Star Journal Dec. 21, and had admitted his involvement in the crime on his own facebook page .
Four claws were noticed missing from the statue Dec. 16. According to police, during the course of the investigation, Rhinelander Police Detective Brian Zohimsky received a tip from someone in the community, and was eventually able to identify a residence where a possible suspect was known to live.
Det. Zohimsky reportedly arrived at the residence and knocked on the door, which opened on its own, revealing in plain sight what Det. Zohimsky believed was a claw from the Hodag statue. The door was closed , a tenant arrived, the claw was retrieved and more information gathered.
According to the report, once Jodan Henk learned that police knew his identity and that he could face charges, he contacted Det. Zohimsky.
Henk admitted to using marijuana, drinking alcohol and the subsequent damage to the statue and theft of the claws with Evan Christiansen, who also admitted to using marijuana and alcohol and damage to the statue and theft of the claws.
The Police Department will refer the men to the DA to face possibly charges of theft and criminal damage to property.
Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Director, Bill Clow, said all four claws have been returned to him. At this time he’s unsure whether they can be reattached. Clow also said he is appreciative of the police pursuing the investigation. The chamber, he added, will be looking for ways to avoid this sort of vandalism in the future.