A 30-year-old La Crosse man with 14 open cases in three counties is being held in the La Crosse County Jail after allegedly killing a two-month old kitten.
Kenneth L. Becker was charged in La Crosse County Circuit Court with felony mistreatment of animals and four counts of felony bail jumping.
According to the criminal complaint, police went to an Avon Street residence in La Crosse after a Northside Elementary School student disclosed that Becker had killed the family’s cat. Police interviewed a woman at the residence who said Becker had brought the kitten to the residence a month earlier.
The woman told police that on May 21, she heard Becker yell in pain followed by a thud and a loud meow. She said Becker told family members the kitten had scratched him and he threw it across the room. She checked the kitten for signs of life and said it died in her hands.
The family buried the kitten in the backyard. Police exhumed the kitten and turned it over to the Coulee Region Humane Society before it was transported to the State Crime Lab in Madison.
Becker wasn’t at the residence when police interviewed the family. An arrest warrant was issued June 9, and he was taken into custody June 24.
Judge Elliott Levine ordered that Becker be held on a $21,000 cash bond to cover all his open cases. They include three felony drug possession cases and causing injury while driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
Becker has a preliminary hearing set for July 5.
Throwback from Tribune files: Life in the La Crosse area in the 1970s
1970: Washburn Elementary School
This 1970 La Crosse scene shows students from the old Washburn Elementary School (background) gathered around the fountain in front of the La Crosse Public Library at Eighth and Main streets. Washburn School was completed in 1922 and was used for classroom purposes until 1974. The building was razed in 1985 and the site is now occupied by Washburn on the Park Apartments. Anyone having additional information about this photo or wishing to donate other pictures of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
1970: Johnson's Junior Miss Shop
Owner Marian Johnson is shown in 1970 inside Johnson's Junior Miss Shop. The store, located at 2311 State Road, is now home to Java Vino.
1971: Behind the Brewery Gallery
Betty and Dale Kendrick prepare to open their Behind the Brewery Gallery in June 1971. The Kendricks operated the gallery, located at 1026 S. Front St., for more than 40 years. James Cherf purchased the building and reopened it as an art gallery in 2012.
The building was torn down in 2018.
1971: Kewpee Lunch
Owner Arthur Grathen is shown here in 1971 shortly before his restaurant, Kewpee Lunch, closed. It was best known for its hamburgers. Grathen opened the restaurant at 314 S. Fourth St. in 1938 with his brother-in-law Harry Vokel, when burgers sold for 5 cents. The price gradually increased over the years before peaking at 20 cents. Today, the storefront is occupied by Designing Jewelers.
1971: Bridgeview Plaza Shopping Center
A groundbreaking was held in October 1971 for Bridgeview Plaza Shopping Center on the city's far North Side. The $2.5 million development opened with a SuperValu Supermarket, which later closed, and a Shopko discount store, which closed in in 2019.
1972: King Cinema
People fill the lobby for the opening of King Cinema in 1972. The movie theater, located at 222 S. Seventh St., showed "The Biscuit Eater" on both of its screens on its first night. The facility, which later added a third screen, showed its final film, "Wimbledon," before closing in 2004. Today, the site is home to a two-story building that houses Social Security offices.
1972: The Stereo Shop
J. Randall Charles, left, and John Tompkins are shown in The Stereo Shop shortly after it opened in 1972. The business, located at 316 S. Fourth St., sold 18 brands of stereos and related equipment. Today that location is home to River City Gold & Silver Exchange.
1972: Viking Heritage
Kathy Brudos, standing, and her sister Jamie, point out Norwegian clothing to their friends Ellen Scheffner, left, and Linda Larson. The Brudos' mother, Jan, is proprietor of Viking Heritage, a store that opened in 1972 at 2903 Losey Blvd. S. Jack and Carol Bohlig took over the store in 1976 and ran it until 2001. Today, the location is home to Advantage Accounting.
1972: Hoffman House Restaurant
Charles Hoffman, president of Hoffman House Restaurants, and Mary Lou Mason are served coffee in the new Hoffman House Restaurant, which opened inside the Midway Motor Lodge, 1835 Rose St., in 1972. In 1983, Ken and Jay Proksch began leasing the restaurant and renamed it Moxie's. It changed names again, in 1999, to River Jack's, and later to Black River Bar & Grill. Today it has the Moxie's name once again.
1972: Louie Bantle's Restaurant
Louis and Lialys Bantle raise their glasses in a toast to the new owner of Louie Bantle's Restaurant, Max Kottmer, right. Louis started his restaurant career in 1944 when he became part owner of Fifth Avenue Buffet. Then, in 1947, he purchased La Conga at 312 S. Third St. and renamed it Louie Bantle's Restaurant. Today, the La Crosse Professional Plaza is located at that site.
1973: Schaak Electronics
William Soller, manager of the Twin Cities-based Schaak Electronics, is shown next to his store's stereo displays in 1973. Today, the space at 407 Main St. is occupied by State Bank Financial.
1973: Newburg's Menswear
William O. Newburg, left, and William E. Newburg show off their newly remodeled menswear store at 322 Pearl St. in this 1973 photo. The family opened a second location in the Village Shopping Center in 1978. That location closed in 1982. A third location at Valley View Mall also closed in 1982. Newburg's Menswear celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1986, the same year its original, and final, location closed downtown. The locatio, later home the Scientific College of Beauty and Barbering, today is vacant.
1973: Book Exchange
Georgann Bohlig, then a sophomore art student at Viterbo University, worked as a manager at The Book Exchange, located at 306 State St. in this 1973 photo. The store later moved to the city's North Side. The former downtown location is now part of The State Room bar.
1973: Union Prescription Center
Wayne Loveland was a pharmacist at Union Prescription Center in La Crosse, a national chain endorsed by labor unions. The store at 1907 West Ave. S. opened in 1973 and remains in business today under the name The Prescription Center.
1974: Caravel TV Sales
Richard G. Hansen of Onalaska checks the color on a television in the showroom of Caravel TV Sales, which opened in 1974 at 1730 George St.
1975: Bodega Lunch Club
The Bodega Lunch Club, pictured in 1975, was a downtown La Crosse landmark for generations. The restaurant opened in 1897 at 122 S. Fourth St. and closed for good in 1989 after a brief closure in 1984. Jeff Hotson and Michael Breckel purchased the building in 1994 and created the Bodega Brew Pub, which still anchors the corner of Fourth and Pearl streets.
1975: Yellow Checker of La Crosse
A La Crosse Tribune story in 1975 featured — from left, Sharon Moore, La Verda Johnson, Barbara Hovell and Judy McGuire — the four female cab drivers of Yellow Checker of La Crosse. The company was unable to steer through some financial problems and closed in 1982.
1975: Patrick Zielke running for mayor
Pat Zielke eats breakfast with his wife, Bea, before heading out to campaign during his first mayoral election in the spring of 1975. Zielke defeated incumbent W. Peter Gilbertson the next month.
1976: New Villa
Betty Volkman, a server at the New Villa, looks over a replica of the U.S. flag in this 1976 photo. The restaurant closed in May 1999, and the building was razed in 2003 to provide parking for the nearby Marcus Cinema Theater. According to the La Crosse Public Library Archives, the restaurant dated to 1937 when George Dialler purchased Rich Newburgs Nite Club and renamed it the New Villa. Dialler selected a rooster as the restaurants logo to pay tribute to the location once having been a poultry farm. In conjunction with the rooster, the New Villa's slogan was "food and cocktails to crow about." It was widely known for its chicken dumpling soup, Hershey almond pie and Friday fish fry dinners.
1977: Bert's Magic and Fun Shop
Bert Forsythe, shown here in this 1977 photo, owned Bert's Magic and Fun Shop with his wife, Emma. The shop, which was located at 4329 Mormon Coulee Road, is now home to Mirage Sports Bar.
1978: Soell's King of Low Prices
Art Soell Sr., owner of Soell's King of Low Prices liquor and wine store, is shown here in 1978. His father, Otto Soell, opened Soell Drug Store at 509 Main St. and became the second retailer in the city to receive a liquor license when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Art Soell Sr. converted the business to a full-service liquor store in 1965; it closed in 1997. The downtown location currently is home to Monet Flower & Gifts. A second Soell's liquor store operated at 3815 Mormon Coulee Road from 1971 to 2004. In later years, the store was managed by Art Soell Jr. After the retailer closed, the space was turned into Collins Professional Building.
In this 1978 photo, 17-month-old Tracy Wolter joins the many shoppers at the opening of the Shopko discount store in Shelby Mall. The city's first Shopko, at 2500 Rose St., opened in 1972. A third Shopko opened in Onalaska in 1989. All three stores closed in 2019.
1978: La Crosse Answering Service
Roberta Fischer, owner of the La Crosse Answering Service, is shown here shortly after her business opened in 1978. The business, located at 217 S. Seventh St., had previously been named Madonna's Answering Service. In 2007, the business was purchased by Bruce and Laurie Torvik. It has since closed.
1978: Lenny's Shoe Repair
Lenny Matiak is shown inside his store, Lenny's Shoe Repair, in this 1978 photo. Matiak, who told the Tribune he he has been in the shoe business since he began shining shoes at age 15, continues to operate his business at 721 Clinton St.
1979: Carriage House of Fashion
Carriage House of Fashion employees Heidi Hensel, left, and Sue Sobkowiak, steam off paint during a remodel of the 415 Jay St. store. The Carriage House was owned by Cindy Gerke, and today that location is an office for Cindy Gerke and Associates, a local real estate company.