It was a radiant October weekend in this stretch of valley in Forest County, a blue-collar logging town in northern Wisconsin, ringed thickets of yellow birch and other hardwoods that gave rise to the name.
The streets were covered in the burnt-orange foliage of fall and North Lake Avenue was filled with rah-rah decorations boasting of the clash between the Crandon Cardinals and the rival Florence Bobcats.
Jordanne Murray, 18, wanted to show off her new apartment at the aging white triplex at 201 North Hazeldell Ave. Her father, who owned the building, lived upstairs.
It was a night for celebration: Crandon won the high school football game 34-0. There’d be food, movies and beer.
Charlie Neitzel, 21, was there. So was Bradley Schultz, 20, who used to play running back and cornerback for the Cardinals. A sophomore studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he had decided at the last minute to come home for the weekend to hash out details for an upcoming trip.
Aaron Smith, Bradley’s childhood best friend, joined them. The brawny 20-year-old had just landed his dream job as a mechanic for an auto racing team.
Jordanne included friends Katrina McCorkle and LiAnna Thomas, both 17, as well as Lindsey Stahl, 14, a vegetarian who flipped burgers with Jordanne at Palubicki’s Eats ‘n’ Treats drive-in.
It was supposed to be a casual thing.
Jordanne had recently broken up with her boyfriend of four years, 20-year-old Tyler Peterson, who worked for the local police and the Forest County sheriff. (Local residents later told investigators that Peterson had a history of verbally and physically abusing Murray.)
For several days, and well into that Saturday night, Tyler had been leaving text messages and voice mails for Jordanne, telling her that he loved her and wanted to see her. She replied that she needed time.
At nearly 2:30 a.m., Tyler pounded on her front door. He stepped inside and saw Aaron sitting on the couch with Jordanne, according to Charlie, the lone survivor.
Tyler yelled at his ex-girlfriend, accusing the pair of sleeping together. Jordanne told Tyler to leave. He hit her, then left. The teens locked the door behind him.
Bradley knew he had to drive back to Milwaukee in a few hours, to cram for classes and finish up homework. It was time to leave.
Outside, Tyler walked up to his pickup and pulled out the AR-15 rifle issued to him as a member of the sheriff’s tactical team. The clip held 30 bullets.
There was extra ammunition in the truck, behind the front seat. In less than 10 minutes, the off-duty officer would return for it.
The police station was a block away.
Listen to one of the first 911 calls to report the shooting, from Donnell Dachelet at 2:49 a.m.
Paul Murray, Jordanne’s father, woke to the sound of thumping beneath his feet, and the jarring staccato of gunshots. He peered out the window to see Tyler slide behind the wheel of his truck and peel out.
The father scrambled down the stairs, his breath tearing in and out of his chest, his fingers punching 911 into the phone as he ran.
Before the operator could say hello, his voice was breaking: “Everybody’s dead!”
“Calm down and breathe for me,” the operator replied. “Now, what’s going on?”
As the operator asked questions, Jordanne’s father said, “Tyler Peterson, the cop, he just flipped out and killed everybody in my daughter’s apartment, and one guy’s still alive.”
In the kitchen, Charlie shrieked for help. He pleaded for someone, anyone, to get him out of that house.
When Tyler went to reload his gun, Charlie, bleeding, tried to get away, dragging himself toward the back door. When he heard Tyler’s returning footsteps, Charlie pretended to be dead.
Rifle casings littered the floor. Jordanne Murray was dead in the kitchen. In the bedroom, Katrina was sprawled in front of the closet, where she’d run to take cover. LiAnna was slumped inside the closet. Aaron and Bradley were both in the living room.
Lindsey was between them, crouched on the floor near the couch, her arms flung protectively over her head.
In a town this small, there are no strangers and few secrets. Word quickly spread, of a party gone horribly wrong and of a cop whose rage had snapped. Parents woke to frantic calls of other parents, begging to know the location of their missing children.
Listen to a 911 call at 5:22 a.m. from Eldred Pagel, looking for a son who was dating a victim.
As the hours passed, rumors gave way to the truth.
How Tyler had fled Jordanne’s house, shooting at another local police officer as he got away. How he had made his way out of town, hiding in a cabin owned by friends. How he handed over his assault rifle to his friends but kept a Glock .22 pistol.
How he left to secretly meet with his mother and grandmother before returning to the cabin in the woods.
Listen to a 911 call from Tyler’s friend Mike Kegley at 9:15 a.m., saying Tyler is at the Kegleys’ home in the woods outside Crandon.
Listen to a 9:30 a.m. 911 call from Tyler’s friend Mary Kegley to Crandon Police Chief John Dennee.
Listen to a 911 call from Mike Kegley at 9:34 a.m., telling Chief Dennee more about Tyler’s demeanor.
Authorities surrounded the cabin. Tyler unsuccessfully tried to cut a deal with the local county district attorney, to turn himself in the following day. The standoff ultimately crumbled when they couldn’t reach an agreement with Tyler about surrendering.
Tyler walked into the woods. A sniper shot him once, in the arm. Tyler placed the muzzle of the pistol against his head and pulled the trigger.
Listen to a 911 call at 12:45 p.m. from Special Agent Jody Wormet, requesting medical assistance for Tyler.
Listen to a 911 call at 12:46 p.m. from Wormet, canceling the request after Tyler’s death.