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Yesterday in La Crosse

A shooting uncovers a strange criminal case on French Island, 14 years ago

Brad Williams



The situation started on a Friday afternoon in April of 2005.  A young kid on French Island told his parents that a neighborhood man had hit him and grabbed his bicycle, for riding too close to the man’s house.  The parents went to talk to the neighbor, who ended up shooting the dad in the shoulder.  That brought police to Philip Schuth’s house, where they stayed all night, 15 hours, before Schuth gave up.  During the standoff, police learned that Schuth had explosives throughout the house, in case someone tried to intrude.  Plus, they learned that his mother Edith had died five years earlier, and she was still in the house…covered with ice, inside a freezer.  Philip didn’t have a job.  He had been cashing his mother’s Social Security checks while concealing the fact that she was dead.  Schuth was afraid people would think he murdered her, but experts determined the woman died of natural causes.  Philip was convicted in federal court for spending all of those government checks, and he was sent to state prison for wounding his neighbor.  He was released in 2012.  The Schuth case led to the local sale of refrigerator magnets in the shape of a freezer…bearing the question ‘What’s in your freezer?’ in 2005, yesterday in La Crosse. 

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.