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Rochester man pleads “not guilty” in death of western Wisconsin woman

Brad Williams

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A Rochester man accused of killing and burying a Buffalo County woman about three years ago pleads ‘not guilty’ to homicide and hiding a corpse. 

Randall Merrick appeared in an Alma courtroom on Friday. 

Police believe Merrick killed 50-year-old Beth Johnson of Nelson, sometime during a three-month period starting on Christmas Day of 2016.  

Johnson’s remains were found buried in Blaine, Minnesota near the Twin Cities less than a month ago, shortly after Merrick was arrested for her death. 

Merrick remains jailed under a $1 million cash bond. 

His next hearing in the case is set for September 28th.  

Johnson and Merrick were roommates at the time Johnson disappeared.

Johnson acted as a caregiver for Merrick.

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.

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