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Police find Woodbury man's bloody machete at Wisconsin campsite

HUDSON, WIS. — When a woman arrived at Baldwin Area Medical Center with a deep cut in her arm, the suspect, her husband, couldn’t explain the source of the injury.

But he knew it happened while he was holding an axe, a machete and a rifle, according to court documents.

St. Croix County prosecutors said it was likely the machete and charged him with substantial battery and causing injury by negligent use of a dangerous weapon — both felonies — along with two misdemeanors: negligent handling of a weapon and domestic disorderly conduct. 

The suspect, Joseph J. Lagrander of Woodbury, appeared in court Aug. 19, where St. Croix Circuit Court Judge Eric Lundell determined there was enough evidence to bind the case over for trial.

According to a criminal complaint, Lagrander took the woman’s child camping on Aug. 14 near 50th Avenue and 315th Street in the town of Cady, Wis. The woman said phone calls and texts throughout the day from the 31-year-old suggested he had been drinking — an activity from which he was prohibited, as part of probationary terms of a 2013 DWI conviction in Minnesota.

Concerned about the behavior, the woman drove to the campsite, where she allegedly found Lagrander drunk with empty beer cans in the area, the complaint states. 

She told him she was going to take her child home with her and tried convincing him to come with them, since he had an interlock device on his vehicle.

According to the complaint, Lagrander opted to stay at the campsite and continued contacting the woman after she left. She told authorities his behavior became strange — at one point he allegedly texted her the phone number for an escort service.

The woman unsuccessfully tried contacting Lagrander the next morning, so she drove back out to the campground with another of her children to check on him.

According to the complaint, the two began to argue once she got there. The woman told authorities she took Lagrander’s phone and saw his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page live on his screen.

She backed away from him and turned away, then felt something strike the back of her arm, the complaint states. 

She turned and saw an open flesh wound, but didn’t know what caused the injury. The complaint states the woman first thought she had been shot because she saw a gun on the ground.

Lagrander drove the woman to the hospital, dropped her off, left, and later returned.

St. Croix County sheriff’s deputies were called at 10:22 a.m. Aug. 15 to the Baldwin hospital, where the  woman was being treated for a deep wound to the back of her arm. 

She sustained a 6-inch-long wound on the back of her arm that cut to the bone, the complaint states.

The woman told authorities she didn’t know if Lagrander intended to injure her.

An investigation of the scene allegedly turned up ammunition, knives and an empty vodka bottle near Lagrander’s truck parked near the campsite.

The actual campsite contained a sword-like knife found stuck into a tree stump, according to the complaint, which goes on to state that Lagrander’s tent contained two long guns. Two other knives and more ammunition were found outside the tent.

Also found outside the tent was an axe and a machete, which appeared to have blood on the blade, the complaint states.

Deputies interviewed Lagrander, who first denied drinking — saying he only finished the remainder of a beer he had used to make beer brats — before admitting to drinking vodka. 

Lagrander said he thought that his wife and her other child were “sneaking around and spying on him” the morning of the incident, the complaint states. 

He denied knowing how the woman got cut and what might have inflicted the injury. He told deputies he was holding his axe and machete at his side during the argument about his phone.

“Lagrander eventually stated that he ‘may’ have tried to reach over (the woman’s) shoulder with his right hand to get his phone back,” the complaint states.

Lagrander was also charged with six counts of misdemeanor contact after a domestic abuse arrest for phone calls he made Aug. 18 from the St. Croix County jail to the victim.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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