FOND DU LAC — Family and friends of Sturtevant teen Berit Beck were able to move one step closer to closure Friday after 64-year-old Dennis Brantner pleaded to a second-degree reckless homicide charge in the 1990 death of Beck.
Branter entered an "Alford plea," meaning he is not admitting guilt, but acknowledges he could be found guilty through evidence.
The last time family and friends saw Beck alive was on July 17, 1990, when Beck left home to go to a computer seminar in Appleton. She was 18 at the time and just graduated from Case High School.
Beck was last seen about 9 a.m. that day leaving a construction site at J.I. Case headquarters, 700 State St. She performed clerical work at a trailer there for Oscar J. Boldt construction, general contractor on the Case expansion project.
She left in her dad's gray, two-tone GMC van for Boldt's Appleton headquarters, where she was scheduled to take a four-day computer class, her father, Dave Beck said.
But she never made it there. Beck was abducted and killed somewhere near Fond du Lac while en route to Appleton. Her last known stop, authorities would later learn, was at a Walgreens in Fond du Lac.
The search for a missing Sturtevant woman focused on Fond du Lac Thursday, after the van she was driving turned up in a K mart parking lot there.
A massive search effort was launched in the days that followed, with the teen’s face posted on countless flyers and even on the side of a semitrailer. Beck’s skeletal remains were discovered about five weeks after her disappearance in a ditch about 5 miles west of Waupun.
In 2014, investigators identified nine fingerprints in the van Berit was driving as belonging to Dennis Brantner, which prosecutors said pointed to Brantner as the killer.
FOND DU LAC — A 61-year-old Kenosha man has been arrested in connection with the nearly 25-year-old slaying of a Sturtevant woman whose body was found in a ditch weeks after she disappeared.
And in March 2015 — nearly 25 years after Beck's death — Branter, of Kenosha, was charged with first-degree homicide.
Brantner was tried during summer 2016, but a mistrial was declared after the jury could not reach a verdict.
FOND DU LAC — The homicide trial of Dennis J. Brantner, the 62-year-old Kenosha man accused of killing Berit Beck in 1990, ended in a mistrial Wednesday, shaking the family of the slain Sturtevant teen and leaving attorneys on both sides of the case in a quandary.
Brantner’s defense attorney argued the prints could only show Brantner was in the van and were not proof he played a role in her death.
But it didn't end there. A Fond du Lac County judge in early 2017 denied a motion to throw out the case and granted prosecutors’ request to have another trial, ruling that enough evidence exists for a retrial.
That new trial at one point was tentatively set for later this month. But instead of going to trial, Brantner submitted a plea.
Brantner's sentencing is set for 9 a.m. March 1 in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court. He is currently serving time behind bars for an unrelated case and could face up to another 10 years for the homicide.