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Police, friends seek answers in man's death

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:41:48 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 24 2013 03:07:14 PM CST
Aryle Dahlke
MADISON, Wis. -

A Good Samaritan first saw 66-year-old Aryle Dahlke lying injured in the road on Madison's east side Sunday night.

She did CPR, but Dahlke later died at a hospital.

The Madison Police Department said it still isn't sure what happened in the 2300 block of Portage Road, where Dahlke was found with massive head and neck injuries.

While Dahlke's injuries suggest he may have been hit by a car, officers don't know if Dahlke was already lying down. Police said they have ruled out a fight as the cause of Dahlke's injuries.

At a memorial Wednesday for Dahlke, employees at Murphy's Tavern told stories about Dahlke. The east side bar was like home to Dahlke, and its employees and patrons were like his family, since the man who raced stock cars and loved "Wheel of Fortune" didn't have any of his own family in Wisconsin.

"The only time he might not have been here is if it was foul weather or if he had a cold,” said longtime bartender and friend Frank Duane. "He's the kind of person who would greet you with welcome arms."

After the nightly news, the tavern was teeming with concern about what happened to Dahlke. Police said he still had his bag of fast food and belongings when the driver found him in the road a block from home.

His head injuries were too severe to survive. Investigators said they are lacking leads as to what caused the injuries.

"I'm speculating it was a mugging of sorts," said Duane.

But police said they have no evidence that Dahlke was mugged. Police said Dahlke had personal property on him, including money.

Along with questions, glasses were raised for Dahlke, who was described as a good man with an infectious smile.

"He was a gentle soul and well-liked by everyone, and they would do anything for him and he would do anything for them," said Duane.

Dahlke's only brother lives in California and plans to host a private cremation ceremony there. But Murphy's Tavern will hold a public benefit for him Sunday at 2 p.m.

The donations collected will go to his brother, who wants to build a memorial garden near their favorite fishing spot in northern California.

Madison police are asking for the public's help in this case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 608-266-6014.

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