Murder victim was ‘cheerful, outgoing’
March 15, 2006
TAHOE CITY – Julie Lacke was described by her friends as bubbly, energetic and funny. Her family back in Wisconsin are hard-working, public-serving people – her father Jerry Lacke is a retired sheriff of Dane County and former highway patrolman. Her mother is a retired nurse and those who know her, call her St. Mary.
Julie Lacke was found dead in her house behind the Tahoe City Golf Course of blunt force trauma and strangulation last weekend, according to a Placer County Sheriff press release and information related to the family by the sheriff’s office. The victim of what authorities are calling a murder-suicide.
Authorities believe the 41-year-old Tahoe City woman was beaten to death inside the home she shared with her boyfriend, who then killed himself a mile away by using gasoline to set fire to her white Ford Explorer while he was inside. The boyfriend’s identity has not been confirmed.
“We can’t make positive identification because there is not enough of the man left to make a positive identification,” Placer County Sheriff’s Lt. John Addoms said earlier this week. “Therefore we can’t release his name until he’s positively identified through DNA.”
She was known by her nicknames of Jules and Yippy-Skippy – a name she earned while cocktail waitressing at the River Ranch and, according to her family, she was an outgoing and a cheerful person.
“When she was at the River Ranch,” said John L. Weed, Lacke’s former supervisor, “she had a big personality – a hard-working, energetic girl.”
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Lacke’s body was discovered inside the home after authorities traced the plates of the burned SUV to her residence. Authorities said Lacke was found inside the bedroom of the home she shared with her boyfriend of two years and a roommate. The couple had been leasing the home for about 10 months. Lacke had no children, nor were there children who lived at the home.
Lacke moved to Tahoe in 1987, after meeting her former boyfriend of 10 years, New Yorker Jonathan Hartnett, in Colorado. According to Hartnett, Lacke “loved the (Green Bay) Packers,” was a cross country runner in high school, had earned a psychology degree from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and loved to take her dog for walks.
But in the past couple of years, friends of hers say they fell out of touch with Lacke. Former co-worker, friend and current manager of River Ranch Jessica Eisenberg-Slusser recounted memories of having a great and “dynamic working relationship – all she wanted to do was make everyone happy.”
The roommate who shared the residence with Lacke and her boyfriend contacted authorities Monday and told them he had learned of the event earlier in the morning. He told authorities that he has been out of the state for about two weeks on vacation. The roommate is not considered a suspect, authorities said.
According to Lacke’s family, her boyfriend, who rented the downstairs portion of the residence with Lacke, was in and out of work and Lacke had not worked in a couple of years. The Lacke family said they knew their daughter had struggled with alcohol in the past and had sought help, but they expressed that only recently had they learned that Lacke’s boyfriend was a “heavy drinker.”
“We want people to know it was domestic abuse,” stated the father, Jerry Lacke. “I don’t know when the beating started.”
Lacke’s father also related that Julie Lacke’s boyfriend had a previous battery charge against him and had a court date around 10 days earlier. Deputies have declined to comment on any previous records on Julie Lacke’s boyfriend.
Those who deal with and counsel victims of domestic violence see patterns in relationships similar to Lacke and her boyfriend.
“Usually the frequencies between the violence gets more and more frequent,” stated Tahoe Women’s Services Executive Director Karen Edwards, describing the nature of an abusive relationship. “Generally speaking, it is a progressive thing. Most often the perpetrator/batterer is very controlling – makes you think you can’t take care of yourself and it feels pretty hopeless. A lot of the controlling behavior makes it so you can’t be with your friends anymore – you don’t have a support system.”
The funeral service for Julie Lacke will take place in Madison, Wis., at the St. Thomas Aquinas church, at 11 a.m. on March 25. Donations can be made to the local Human Society of Truckee, reached at (530) 587-5948.