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Tipster identified in Rock County cold case

By Theo Keith, tkeith@wisctv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:03:00 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 14 2013 02:42:49 PM CDT
janesville cold case weckler
FORT ATKINSON, Wis. -

Two of Georgia Weckler's family members say they've lost hope for a conclusion in the case, which started with her abduction in 1947.

The Rock County Sheriff's Office on Friday suspended their search at the corner of East Rotamer and Wright roads in Janesville. Investigators had dug for Weckler's remains for five days after getting what they described as a "credible" tip.

Sheriff's officials said Norman Weitzel, 82, of Edgerton, contacted authorities and said he had been at the site in May 1947 picking berries with a friend when he saw what he described as a small grave. A man screamed for them to leave, according to a search warrant used to start digging at the site.

Weitzel said he recognized the face of the man who chased them away but didn't know his name. He said he recognized him from a Janesville area church.

Weitzel said he reported his suspicions about the site to police numerous times over the years and reported it again recently when he saw that the area was slated for development.

Weitzel is not considered a suspect in the disappearance, according to deputies.

The search warrant indicates that three police cadaver dogs had a reaction in the area, backing up Weitzel's story -- although detectives didn't find any human remains during their search.

"I always feel good when they have a credible lead," said Dawn Weckler, the wife of Georgia's brother LaVerne. "But they can only go on so long."

LaVerne Weckler, who was 12 when his sister disappeared from their rural Jefferson County road, has said he didn't expect much to come of the new search.

He said he thought Rock County detectives were right to suspend the digging.

"They were at it a full week," he said. "I guess I didn't put too much thinking into (investigators finding something)."

There have been multiple leads over the 66 years since Georgia Weckler's disappearance, although no major ones for more than a decade.

The Wecklers said the Janesville search will make a new generation aware of the case.

"Actually, I think it's mostly older people who remember anything about it," LaVerne Weckler said.

The couple clipped newspaper headlines over the past week, and will now add them to their collection from previous articles over the decades.

Dawn Weckler said she'd like to drive herself and LaVerne past the Janesville dig site, just to see it. The Weckler said they still didn't know the identity of the elderly Rock County tipster.

She said she no longer expects to see a resolution to the case in the couple's lifetime.

"No, I think there are enough health issues now that I don't foresee that," she said.

Rock County detectives said that, although they had suspended the search, the case remains open.

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