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WONDER LAKE – First-degree murder charges were filed Monday in a 30-year-old cold case that led investigators to exhume the body of a Wonder Lake woman.
Arizona police arrested Mark Bringe, 70, in connection with the 1988 death of his wife, Lorelei "Lori" Bringe, on Monday.
The 34-year-old's death previously was thought to be a suicide, but the Columbia County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin reopened the case as a homicide investigation in 2014, according to a news release.
Bringe's body had been cleaned and embalmed before an autopsy was performed, making it harder for the medical examiner to determine a manner of death, according to a criminal complaint filed in Columbia County court.
In more recent years, investigators were able to rely on DNA evidence to cast a new light on circumstances surrounding Lori Bringe's death.
Lori Bringe, formerly of Wonder Lake, was buried in September 1988 in Greenwood Cemetery in Woodstock, according to her obituary. In 2017, her body was exhumed and re-examined by a forensic pathologist, according to the complaint.
"Investigators spent thousands of hours needling through the case filed, reviewing and testing evidence, interviewing witnesses, exhuming Lori's body and investigating this death," Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards said in the release.
In August 1988, Lori Bringe was found shot dead with a gunshot wound to the left side of her head. Her body was discovered in a wooded area just west of Poynette, Wisconsin, the release stated.
At the time, her husband, Mark Bringe, had reported to police that the death was a suicide. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office investigated the situation, but the case eventually went cold before investigators re-examined evidence in 2014.
On Aug. 19, 1988, Mark Bringe told police he had picked up his wife from work because her father was planning to visit for the weekend, according to the complaint.
The couple had stopped at the liquor store to pick up beer for the visit and arrived home about
4:20 p.m., according to the complaint. Mark Bringe told police that he heard a gunshot about 10 minutes later.
When investigators interviewed Mark Bringe in February 2017, however, he told police he had "no friggen clue" that his father-in-law was planning to stay with them that weekend, the complaint stated.
Police later learned that Mark Bringe received a $32,000 life insurance policy after Lori's death, in addition to a mortgage insurance policy that paid off his home, according to the complaint.
Mark Bringe is awaiting extradition to Wisconsin.