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Family friend offers $10K reward for tips about Hougom slaying

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Sara Rose Hougom

Sara Rose Hougom

A friend of Sara Hougom’s family is offering $10,000 for information leading to a conviction in the 20-year-old’s shooting death last week.

Sam Paglia said he never met Hougom, though he considers her father a close friend and wants to do whatever he can to help him heal.

“God’s plan is you should never outlive your children ... I can’t begin to imagine the pain Mike is feeling — especially if there are no answers,” Paglia said Monday. “(Without answers) they’ll never get to a point where they can start to heal.”

The Toronto businessman said money is the best tool he can offer to help his friend get an answer. If someone can provide information leading to a conviction, Paglia said, “I will personally hand them a check. It’s not a scam.”

Sara’s father, Mike Hougom, did not respond to an interview request but posted his appreciation on Paglia’s Facebook page “for all your hard work, thoughts and help with this unspeakable act that took the life of my daughter.”

Paglia is also accepting donations to the reward fund, which he said would be kept in an escrow account. As of Monday he’d received about $750 through a website he set up, www.sarahougomreward.com.

Anyone with tips is encouraged to call the La Crosse Police department.

Meanwhile, police have offered no new details since last week about who shot Hougom in her Division Street apartment March 26. Hougom, a part-time college student and waitress, died the same day at a local hospital.

Capt. Jason Melby said the department has worked on few cases where the family offers a reward, and that it can be helpful. CrimeStoppers offers a standard $1,000 reward with the ability for the tipster to remain anonymous.

“Having the family work with us can be vitally important to moving forward with the case,” Melby said.

Melby declined to say if the reward had generated any tips useful to the investigation.

Dozens of local and state investigators have been tracking down leads on Hougom’s death.

Police are also awaiting evidence analysis from the state crime lab to determine if Hougom’s death was connected to a shooting about 20 minutes earlier on the North Side. No one was injured in the earlier shooting, in which four bullets were fired into a home at 1519 Island St. during a birthday party for an 83-year-old woman.

Hougom’s death is the city’s second homicide this month and marks La Crosse’s most violent stretch in almost a decade.

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