La Crosse man arrested in death of woman whose body was found in Vernon County lake

La Crosse man arrested in death of woman whose body was found in Vernon County lake

From the From Tribune files: Top crime stories of 2018 series
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Erik Sackett, 38, has been arrested on suspicion of homicide in connection with the slaying of Erin Somvilai of La Crosse, whose body was found June 17 in Runge Hollow Lake in Vernon County, according to authorities.

Erik Sackett mug

Erik Sackett

Erin (Bushek) Somvilai 2018


Sackett, who is in the La Crosse County Jail in an unrelated sexual assault case, is expected to be charged with first-degree intentional homicide during his first court appearance Thursday, according to La Crosse police and the county district attorney’s office.

Sackett is a former boyfriend of Somvilai, whose family reported her missing June 4, saying she hadn’t been seen since the previous day.

Somvilai, 35, whose last name previously had been reported as Bushek, had been weighted down with concrete blocks so her body wouldn’t surface, police said. However, a fisherman found her body June 17 in the lake, which is near property Sackett’s grandfather owns.

La Crosse police and members of the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department recovered the body from the lake, according to a La Crosse police news release. La Crosse police became lead investigators on the homicide investigation, working with the Vernon Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation.

Investigators evaluated information they had compiled earlier, when Somvilai was considered a missing person. They interviewed Sackett, who made statements that they later determined to be inaccurate, police said.

Sackett, who had been sentenced to prison in April 2012, was on extended supervision for sexual assault, but he was jailed June 12 for a two-month sentence. Charges included failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements, failing to report police contact, staying overnight in places other than his approved residence, and engaging in an intimate relationship and allowing an individual to stay at his residence without agent approval, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Sackett’s previous imprisonment traces to a woman’s report to police on Oct. 1, 2011, that Sackett threatened to kill her before throwing her to a bed in a Westby house, strangling her and trying to sexually assault her before she fought him off, according to the complaint filed in Vernon County Circuit Court.

“‘(Expletive) this. I’m going to kill everybody,’” Sackett said, according to the complaint.

As the victim locked herself and her children in a bedroom and called 911, Sackett kicked in a door to a gun storage room. He told her he would kill police during a standoff.

Sackett told authorities that he did not threaten or batter the woman, according to the complaint.

A jury convicted Sackett of attempted second-degree sexual assault by use of force, battery and criminal damage to property, and a judge sentenced him in April 2012 to six years and nine months in prison.

He was released from prison Oct. 3 on extended supervision.

Sackett lives at 2744 Oak Drive with his father, Ronald Sackett Sr., who served three years’ probation for trying to make the victim in his son’s case recant, according to a complaint in that case.


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