Authorities ask for help locating suspect after man fatally stabbed at Devil’s Lake State Park

Local News

BARABOO, Wis. (WFRV) – Authorities continue to search for more information after a man was fatally stabbed at Devil’s Lake State Park in October.

The Sauk County Sheriff’s Office says 24-year-old John Craig Schmutzer of Wauwatosa was hiking alone through Devil’s Lake State Park on Oct. 14 when he was stabbed and ultimately died of his wounds.

Authorities say that while some circumstances surrounding Schmutzer’s death remain unknown, visitor’s to Devil’s Lake State Park are being asked to recall events they might have witnessed on Oct. 14 at around 11:30 a.m. and any unusual encounters they may have had with individuals at the park in the days leading up to Schmutzer’s death.

The Sheriff’s Office says there’s almost no evidence to show the suspect and Schmutzer knew each other.

“While we wish to understand the events leading to John’s death, we are also concerned that the person who stabbed him may be a danger to himself or others,” the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office says. “He may be exhibiting signs of instability as a result of a stressful life event in the days or weeks prior to October 14, 2020, which could include a change in relationship, employment, schooling, health, or other life status.”

“The impact of this stressful event may have been additionally complicated by underlying mental health challenges, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or some combination thereof. Friends and family of this individual may be aware that he carries a knife with him and may have observed changes in his behavior that they consider worrisome. This individual may now be suffering stress and anxiety caused by John’s death, which will likely get worse as time passes. This individual is likely to become increasingly angry and abusive. He may exhibit poor ability to control his emotions and has the potential to act impulsively and disregard possible consequences. In the days following this event, he may have exhibited a sharp increase in alcohol or drug use. He may have shown increased attention to the news surrounding this case. He may have changed his appearance, changed his vehicle, or left the area entirely without offering explanation. He may have missed work, missed family events, or withdrawn from other normal activities. Additionally, it is possible that this person hurt himself in the act of stabbing John. People may have observed blood on his clothing. It’s possible he sought treatment for injuries. If he was injured, it is likely that he would tell medical professionals, friends, or family that he was the victim of a crime or suffered a serious accident. We wish to identify this person before he harms himself or others. If you know someone who could fit this description and who could have been in the area of Devil’s Lake Park, please call the tip line at 1-888-847-7285Callers can remain anonymous, and may be eligible for a reward through Sauk County Crime Stoppers.This case continues to be pursued by the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources. Please… help us identify this individual and bring closure for John’s family, who have lost their warm, kind, thoughtful, generous and bright son.”

Lt. Chris Zunker with the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office tells affiliate WISC, “We still have a lot of resources being thrown at this case, and we will continue to do so. We are not going to give up on this case. We feel the information we’ve given you today is going to reinvigorate our tips and produce hopefully very beneficial tips.”

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