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WI: Did a Newspaper Inspire a Murder Attempt?


Last July, the Hudson Star Observer in western Wisconsin wrote a story about a man moving into a building in town. His name was Brandon Langel. He was on the state’s sex offender registry for crimes he’d committed in 2008, for which he spent four years in prison. The paper ran the story because now he’d be moving into a building where three other registrants also lived.

The paper interviewed a neighbor who lived right across the street. “It’s really concerning,” said Daniel Steltz, who had a wife and child. “The fact that four convicted sex offenders all live about 25 feet from his family’s doorstep is a chilling one for Steltz,” the reporter noted. Steltz said his family hadn’t experienced any problems with them. But now Steltz said he was exploring selling their home.

Further down in the article, the writer inserted more information about Langel. He was a small man: 5-foot-5 and 152 pounds. A giant photo of him ran at the top of the story.

All of that would seem to be just reporting the facts. But the writer left out key information:

Read more


Join the discussion

  1. T

    The media is sure doing a masterful job of alerting and tripping people off for no real reason about sex offenders living nearby as being a safety issue while registrants are struggling to live their lives normal and unmolested.

  2. Staci

    The state that I live in has extreme Halloween punishment; those on the registry must be home from 5 to 10 pm, must post a sign on the door that there is no candy at that residence, leave lights off, etc. Our local news stations like to run stories about it and then encourage the public of where they can go to find where registrants live. The city that I live in was sixth on MSN’s list of most dangerous cities to live in. I sent letters to the news stations that aired that and told them that it was extremely irresponsible given the recent climate. The only reason they did it was because they needed material and in their eyes it made for a good story.

    • Dustin


      Got an idea. Next year, try to get a hold of the news directors of those same stations a week or two before Halloween to see if they’ll run the same story. Odds are they will, regardless of what you’re told. Challenge them to find one single instance of a trick-or-treating sex offense and see how they react.

    • AJ

      This has been found unconstitutional in CA for a few reasons…reasons which should hold, regardless in what State it’s challenged. 1) Being under “house arrest” is a violation of one’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of travel/movement. 2) Being forced to post a sign is violation of one’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. (In this case, your “speech” is to remain silent, and the gov’t mandating a sign is compelled speech.)

      ***Big caveats: 1) I am not an attorney and, 2) if still under supervision, it may not be wise or worth the fight to tick off one’s PO. (Then again, they *are* one’s fundamental rights.)

  3. Cool CA RC

    Can you sue the newspaper for causing a wrongful death?

    • JM of Wi.

      Sounds like an opportunity. (for an accident chasing lawyer) Problem is the newspaper’s freedom of speech, and the info on the registry.
      The registry has warnings to not be vigilantes. Could sue the idiot with the ax. Bet he’s rolling in cash. ….not

  4. Dustin

    I would say yes, the newspaper did inspire the attack. And would add they usually celebrate it.

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