Lodger Allegedly Killed 82-Year-Old Middleton Woman

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MTT News's picture
Matt Geiger

On Wednesday of last week, 82-year-old Agnes Bram was at the Middleton Senior Center, playing euchre with her friends, as she often did. It was the last time she was seen alive.

Also at the senior center that day was a man named John “Jack” Hamann, who investigators believe later murdered Bram, from whom he was renting a room.

While police say the motive was unclear, news of the alleged homicide sent shockwaves through a community that is, both in terms of perception and crime statistics, usually remarkably safe.

While the story pieced together by authorities seemed ripped from the opening pages of Crime and Punishment, those who knew the victim were quick to share fond memories about the friendly woman known to her friends simply as “Aggie.”

The woman, whose body was discovered in her garage by a family member, was remembered for being active in the community, for enjoying and telling jokes, and for caring for others.

Jodi Tomaszewski said Bram “took the time to remember everybody.”

“She made everybody feel important when she came around,” said Tomaszewski. “She could always light up a room. I thought about her frequently; how she brought so many of us together.”

“I know she’ll be sadly missed by many, including the children she cared for,” Tomaszewski continued. “My heart bleeds and goes out to her family.”

The preliminary results of a forensic autopsy “suggest that Ms. Bram’s death was the result of homicidal blunt force trauma [to] the head,” according to the medical examiner Barry Irmen.

According to police, on April 28 at 2:52 p.m., the Middleton Police Department was contacted by a male caller who stated that he had just found a family member deceased at 7113 University Avenue. He had gone to check on Bram because family members, who had not heard from her since Wednesday, had grown concerned.

Upon arrival, officers located an elderly female deceased in the garage.  Observations of the first officers on the scene indicated that the death was “of a suspicious nature,” according to a police statement.

Authorities learned that Bram lived at the residence with a boarder who rented a bedroom within the single-family home.  The boarder has been identified as 53-year-old John “Jack” Hamann.  Hamann has been a tenant of Bram’s for approximately six months. Records show Hamann lived in the area previously, both in the City of Middleton and in Cross Plains.

Upon learning of his identity, on Friday evening officers immediately began searching for Hamann “to confirm his safety and interview him.” He was found sleeping in a University of Wisconsin Hospital waiting room during the morning hours of Saturday, April 29. 

Hamann was returned to the Middleton Police Department, and a search warrant was then executed and evidence was collected from his clothing and person.

Hamann was subsequently booked into the Dane County Jail on a preliminary charge of First-degree intentional homicide. 

Upon the issuance of a search warrant for the residence, a complete search and forensic analysis of the Bram home was conducted by detectives from the Middleton Police Department and the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory on Sunday, April 30.  

During this investigation it was determined the Hamann had been observed carrying a brown satchel or bag throughout downtown Middleton on Friday. Video evidence of Hamann leaving Middleton at approximately 6 p.m. on Friday showed him without the bag. 

Using social media, police asked citizens for help finding the potential piece of evidence. Then on Monday, just as investigators were convening a press conference at the Middleton Police Station, a local woman contacted police and told them she had found the bag.

Police “gloved up” and quickly confirmed that the bag in question contained personal property belonging to Hamann.  The property was then transported to the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory for examination and analysis.

Also according to police:

Based on the complexity of the scene and seriousness of this incident, assistance with the on scene evidence collection and investigation was requested from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department. Officials from the Dane County Medical Examiner’s office also responded to the scene to help determine the cause and manner of death.

A preliminary analysis of the victim and crime scene led investigators to believe that this suspicious death was the result of a homicide.   The Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. 

The victim and suspect knew one another and as such, the Middleton Police Department does not believe that there is an imminent threat to the general public at this time.

The Middleton Police Department in continuing to investigate the incident and will provide further information as it becomes available.  

The Middleton Police Department is asking anyone who may have information or witnessed this incident to contact the police department at 608-824-7300, tipster line at 608-824-7304 or text at 608-824-7300.    




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