Wisconsin criminals might be on the loose in Minnesota

If you see James C. Misleveck or James R. Newman, call the cops
If you see James C. Misleveck or James R. Newman, call the cops

Two criminals who allegedly led authorities on a high-speed chase after escaping a correctional facility in Wisconsin and kidnapping an elderly woman are still on the loose, and they could be in Minnesota.

The escaped inmates are James Cody Misleveck, 18, and James R. Newman, 29, and they have extensive criminal histories: Misleveck has been busted for burglary, theft and arson, while Newman has been in trouble for sexual assault as well as a weapons violation. Jackson County Sgt. Patrick LaBarbera tells us they escaped a state correctional facility in rural Black River Falls late Wednesday night.

Around 5 A.M. Thursday morning, they stole a shotgun out of a skeet shooter's car and then took a neighboring vehicle. The escaped inmates drove to the Ho-Chunk Casino and kidnapped an elderly woman who was just arriving for work, according to LaBarbera.

One of the two approached her and asked for a cigarette. The other pointed the gun at her and ordered her into the car.

They took off east on I-94, toward Madison, and stopped at a Walmart in Tomah, Wisconsin, where they tried to find another victim to carjack, according to the cops.

Unsuccessful, they took their victim back at gunpoint and drove to Sparta, Wisconsin, where they searched another Walmart parking lot and found nothing.

Down the road, they stopped at a store, Northern Engraving, and found a car with the keys still in it. There they released the kidnapping victim and took off.

"It's a godsend that this poor woman, who was an older lady, wasn't harmed," Sgt. LaBarbera says. "We give a lot of credit to her in that she basically personalized herself to these two individuals, [told them] that she was a grandparent, talking about her grandchildren, her work."

A Monroe County squad car tried to pull them over but the felons took off and escaped into the woods southeast of Tomah, where they ditched their vehicle and left the weapon behind.

Cops searched all day yesterday and into the evening but couldn't find them. Then this morning, a man who lived "within a mile" of the woods found that his car had been stolen out of his garage. That's when the cops lost them.

"Where they went from there is anyone's guess," says LaBarbera.

During the kidnapping, the alleged car thieves reportedly asked the woman for instructions on how to reach Minnesota, but where they are now is unknown.

If you see them, call the cops.

LaBarbera suggested on the phone that this was more of a spur-of-the-moment decision by the inmates and not a well-conceived plan. If they'd just waited a little while longer, they wouldn't have even needed to run away from the jail.

"They didn't have much time on their sentences," LaBarbera says.

Which means they're not just scumbags: they're idiots, too.

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