Murder charge: Man shot wife, captured in western Wisconsin with his 2 kids as he reached for rifle

A man suspected of fatally shooting his wife evaded capture with his two children along until police arrested him outside a western Wisconsin gas station just as he was reaching for a gun in his pickup truck, according to charges.

Jared Danger Ler'che, 41, of rural Osceola, Wis., was charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the shooting of 34-year-old Margaret Ler'che on Monday just over the border with Minnesota in the southwest corner of Polk County.

Ler'che appeared in Circuit Court on Wednesday and remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail. He's due back in court on Tuesday. Court records indicate that Ler'che does not yet have an attorney.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Monday, the father of Margaret Ler'che called the Sheriff's Office asking for a deputy to check on his daughter at her home near Osecola. He said she was supposed to pack up her belongings and arrive at his home in Iowa, where she and the children had been living in recent months because of marital problems.

Shortly after 8:50 p.m. that same day, St. Paul police alerted Polk County law enforcement that Jared Ler'che called a Minnesota crisis center and said he was driving around with his two children and having thoughts of suicide. St. Paul police tracked his phone to south of the Twin Cities in Cannon Falls.

About 45 minutes later, deputies arived at the Ler'che home on 240th Street south of Osceola and knocked on the door. Jared Ler'che replied through a doorbell app even though he was not inside. Ler'che and one of the deputies connected by phone and said he didn't know Margaret Ler'che's whereabouts. The call ended after Jared Ler'che had nothing more to say.

Around 11:25 p.m., a deputy connected again with Jared Ler'che through the doorbell app, and he repeated that he knew nothing about where Margaret Ler'che might be. He declined to say where he was, other than to say in Minnesota.

He did offer that he "was not feeling good about this" and had an idea about why the deputies were in touch with him, but he said nothing more. Jared Ler'che eventually agreed to meet law enforcement at a KwikTrip in Osceola.

About the same time, deputies went to the home, entered and spotted dried blood on a basement stairwell wall. They went down and saw Margaret Ler'che's body beneath a blanket, with a charging cord wrapped around her neck. A gunshot wound to the back of her head was visible. A rifle was on the floor next to her.

Investigators arrived at the KwikTrip and parked next to Ler'che's pickup truck. His children were in car seats behind him. He explained that he believed his wife was having multiple affairs and involved in illegal sexual enterprises. He gave vague answers about his where his wife was and kept trying to change the subject.

Ler'che balked at going back to his home with law enforcement, at times reaching for something near the floor and soon had "a state of panic" on his face as he locked the door to his vehicle.

Eventually, investigators got the pickup unlocked as Ler'che was again reaching for something near his feet. Once Ler'che was in handcuffs, an investigator saw a shotgun on the floor. Seized from Ler'che were footwear and clothing with blood spatter.