MARINETTE - A $1 million cash bond has been set for a man accused of killing his girlfriend, who was an advocate for domestic violence victims.
Brent Kaempf, 48, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his girlfriend, 45-year-old Trish Waschbisch, both of Peshtigo.
The charge was filed Wednesday afternoon - more than two days after Kaempf, 48, was found sleeping in his car by a Wauwatosa officer early Monday morning. Kaempf was a person of interest in Waschbisch's death after her body was found Sunday by her daughter in the Peshtigo home the couple shared. Court documents say she was stabbed to death.
State: Kaempf a flight risk
"This is the most extraordinarily serious offense for which anybody can be charged and I believe the state's request for bail of $1 million is completely appropriate," said Judge James Morrison Thursday.
Kaempf appeared before Judge James Morrison by video from the Marinette County Jail.
Kaempf said little, by way of short responses to questions by Morrison.
"Have you had an opportunity to review the complaint?" asked Morrison.
"Yes, your honor," replied Kaempf.
The state argued for the high bond, not just because of the seriousness of the charge.
"The defendant told police officers he was trying to go to Illinois," said Marinette County Assistant District Attorney Kent Hoffman to the court, referencing where he ended up being found.
Waschbisch "a friend, a sister"
Outside of Rainbow House early Thursday morning, a sunlight-drenched purple ribbon danced in the wind where Waschbisch once worked as the interim director and longtime legal advocate.
While at the domestic violence shelter, she lent a listening ear to domestic violence victims; even becoming friends with some, like Carmen Hashimoto of Peshtigo.
"It's a nightmare that I think I'm going to wake out of, that I can call her and talk like I always did," said Hashimoto after the court hearing Thursday.
Hashimoto says she met Waschbisch about ten years ago when Hashimoto was a client of Rainbow House. She says the two become fast friends.
Hashimoto says she has known Kaempf for about the same amount of time.
"Does any of this seem out of character for everything that's coming out of what happened that night?" I asked Hashimoto.
"This is out..." said Hashimoto, stopping herself, "unbelievable for me, for this to happen. I mean, I knew that there was some problems [between Kaempf and Waschbisch], but I never knew that it would go to this extreme, never to this point."
Waschbisch's son declined to talk to FOX 11 following Thursday's hearing.
Rainbow House also released a statement Thursday about Waschbisch's death, it reads in part:
"Domestic violence can happen to anyone. We should never think someone is immune. Although it is understandable, we should not be shocked that domestic violence is perpetrated against an advocate or a police officer or a community leader. We should not be shocked because domestic violence is not something the victim controls."
A visitation for Waschbisch is scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday at Rhodes-Charapata Funeral Home in Coleman; with her funeral and burial with military honors following.
Her son says a candlelight vigil will be held in Peshtigo Saturday evening.
Kaempf is due back in court May 10.
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