Jeffrey Lepsch

Jeffrey Lepsch

A Minnesota man charged in the Sept. 15 shooting deaths of a downtown La Crosse store owner and his son stood mute to the crimes today.

Jeffrey Lepsch, 39, of Dakota is charged with killing Paul Petras, 56, and his 19-year-old son, A.J., at May’s Photo, 425 Main St.

A judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery with use of force and being a felon in possession of a firearm during his preliminary hearing today in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Authorities say they recovered 14 items stolen from the camera shop at Lepsch’s house during a search Oct. 10, according to the complaint.

Lepsch, a convicted felon and hobby photographer, denies involvement in the deaths.

Investigators found more than $16,000 worth of camera equipment missing from the store after Sherri Petras found her husband and son dead when she went to check on them.

Both victims were shot in the head, and A.J. Petras suffered blunt-force trauma to his head.

Police say surveillance video from other businesses shows Lepsch enter the business at 1:53 p.m. wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. He left more than an hour later with three bags and a full backpack, according to the criminal complaint.

He drove north in a blue Dodge Caravan with an upside down trailer hitch.

Investigators found the same van and a gray hooded sweatshirt at Lepsch’s house, according to the complaint.

Cellphone records show the victim’s phones in Onalaska the afternoon of Sept. 15 when Lepsch made a purchase at Best Buy at 3:25 p.m., the complaint states.

Lepsch remains jailed on a $2 million cash bond.

See Friday’s Tribune or for more on this story.


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