A love letter and court documents found in a stolen car led police to arrest a Waupaca couple.
Miranda A. Barden, 25, and Dustin Lee Bohringer, 26, are both charged with taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent as party to a crime.
On Aug. 11, Waupaca Police Sgt. John Helgeson met with an artist for Waupaca Tattoo on North Main Street.
She reported that when she closed the shop at 8:15 p.m., she discovered her four-door, dark green Geo Prism was missing. It had still been parked on Main Street an hour earlier.
She also told Helgeson she left the car door unlocked and her key in the ignition.
Waupaca Police Officer Brent Krueger later responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked in a wooded area off of Bartlett Street near the railroad tracks. It was a dark green Geo Prism.
The license plate on the Prism did not match the one registered to it. A check of the vehicle’s identification number indicated it was the stolen car. The license plate on the car when it was found was traced back to Barden.
Officer Wesley Zube inspected the Prism and found it packed with women’s clothing, bedding and numerous personal items. He also reported finding alcohol swabs with blood on the floor and a syringe in the driver’s side door.
When the car’s owner inspected the car, she said most of the items did not belong to her. She said an after-market car stereo system had been removed.
The car was towed to the police garage, where they found Barden’s day planner, paperwork for Barden from the Department of Health and Human Services, legal documents and photos of Barden.
They also found a bank statement and a criminal complaint with Bohringer’s name. Inside an address book was written, “If found, please return to Dustin Bohringer.”
Among the items found in the car was a love letter from Bohringer to Barden.
On Aug. 19, Bohringer and Barden were taken into custody for questioning.
According to the criminal complaint, when Zube asked Barden if she ever drove the stolen vehicle, she said she did not. When asked if the needles or alcohol wipes were hers, she said they were not. When asked if she ever used heroin while in the vehicle, she said maybe.
Barden reportedly accused Bohringer of stealing the car and claimed she did not know the car was stolen until a couple of hours later.
She admitted to trading the stereo system for meth, the complaint says.
Investigators later obtained a receipt for a car radio from an Oshkosh pawn shop.
She said the license plates were from her van, which had been towed away in Milwaukee.
Barden told Zube that Bohringer parked the car in the woods because he became afraid of being caught.
When they returned to the car to retrieve their belongings, they saw the squad cars and tow truck.
She said they threw the ignition key into the river because they were afraid they would be caught with the key in their possession.
When Zube questioned Bohringer, he denied stealing the car and said Barden stole the car and he was being blamed for it, the complaint says.
Bohringer said he and Barden were sitting outside the Firehouse Apartments on North Main Street for nearly an hour while Barden contemplated stealing the car. He said Barden walked past the car twice before stealing it, according to the complaint.
Zube asked Bohringer if he ever drove the car. Bohringer replied that he had, but not until 24 to 48 hours after it was stolen.
Bohringer said they used the car to drive to Milwaukee to get Barden’s belongings. He also accused Barden of having the ignition key.
In addition to car theft, Barden also faces a felony bail jumping charge, while Bohringer is charged with misdemeanor bail jumping.
On June 7, Bohringer was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia and released on a $600 signature bond.
At the time of her most recent arrest, Barden was free on a $2,000 signature bond.
Since December 2015, she has been charged for driving with a controlled substance in her blood while having a child in her vehicle, operating while intoxicated, possession of narcotics, credit card fraud and felony theft.
Both Barden and Bohringer are now being held in custody on a $2,000 cash bond.