Crime & Courts

McHenry man third person charged in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, homicide

Left to right: Joshua Grimaldi, Joey L. Miracle and Thomas R. Wilton

A McHenry man is the third person to be charged in the homicide of a 60-year-old man found shot to death in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, the Twin Lakes Police Department said.

Joshua C. Grimaldi, 18, formerly of Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, was arrested Tuesday by Twin Lakes police in connection with the Oct. 14 death of Kenneth Thoma, according to a news release issued Thursday by the department.

He is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a body, both as parties to a crime, Wisconsin court records show.

Also charged in the homicide are Joey L. Miracle, 18, of Twin Lakes and Thomas R. Wilton, 20, of Trevor, Wisconsin.

All three men are charged with the same offenses and being held in the Kenosha County Jail on $1 million bond, according to Wisconsin circuit court filings.

Thoma’s body was found Nov. 6 buried in a wooded area behind the Tan Oak Apartments in Twin Lakes, where Thoma lived, according to the criminal complaints and a news release from the Twins Lakes Police Department issued at the time of Miracle and Wilton’s arrests in December.

Kenneth Thoma

Thoma was reported missing Oct. 19, according to a news release from when his body was identified in November. Family members told police they last saw him at his apartment the evening of Oct. 14.

His body was found by a man working on a bike track that ran through the wooded area behind Thoma’s apartment complex, according to the release.

The man who discovered Thoma’s body said he had removed about three wheelbarrows full of dirt when he came to a piece of plywood, according to criminal complaints filed in Kenosha County. He then removed the plywood and dug out about two more wheelbarrows full of dirt. As he continued to dig further, the man said, his shovel hit what he thought was a rock, but it didn’t sound like a rock.

“[The man] dug out more and saw gray hair, eyes, a nose and ears,” according to the criminal complaint. “[The man] stated that he covered it back up because he was scared” then reported it to police.

Thoma’s remains were identified through dental records. The Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy, and the preliminary findings indicated that Thoma had been shot in the back of the head, according to the complaint.

On Dec. 12, a Twin Lakes police sergeant received a phone call from an officer at the Wellington Police Department in Ohio. A relative of Miracle’s said Miracle told another family member he killed someone with his gun, according to the complaint.

The family member said he heard two other family members discussing that Miracle “did something bad with his gun, and he had to get rid of it,” according to the complaint.

Miracle had stayed at the Tan Oaks Apartments in October and November last year, Twin Lakes police Capt. Katie Hall verified in the complaint.

On the night of Oct. 14, the last time Thoma was seen alive by a family member and the last date for which his cellphone reported any activity, Miracle told police he had gone to Thoma’s apartment. He told Hall that Thoma offered him a Monster drink and “crack” but “that was not his thing,” and the two walked out of his apartment and into the parking lot and went separate ways.

In another statement to Hall by one of Miracle’s family members, Miracle allegedly said he had done something bad and told the family member “[there] was this guy raping girls, and I had to take care of him,” according to the complaint.

However, Hall said in the criminal complaint that the Twin Lakes Police Department has no record of Thoma being reported for a sexual assault. She also said that during the investigation no one interviewed has said anything of a sexual assault in which Thoma was a suspect.

When asked directly during a second police interview if he killed Thoma, Miracle did not deny it and said he was tired and wanted to leave, at which point he was arrested, according to the complaint.

The next day, a friend of Wilton’s told police that Wilton told him through texting and Snapchat messages that he was with Miracle when Miracle “shot a guy and that he helped … Miracle bury the guy in the woods,” according to the complaint. Wilton also told one other friend, according to the complaint.

However, Wilton later denied to police that he was present for the shooting and said Miracle told him he had “shot Thoma once in the back of the head,” according to the complaint. Wilton also told police that Miracle told him about a week before the homicide that he wanted to shoot Thoma. To this, Wilton said he replied that was a bad idea. Wilton also said he helped get rid of the gun by giving it to a friend, according to the complaint.

Grimaldi was arrested after police and partner agencies conducted a “comprehensive investigation” including “numerous interviews, reviewing hundreds of hours of digital evidence and serving several search warrants,” according to a Twin Lakes Police Department news release on Tuesday.

“Through the investigation, significant evidence was gathered and led investigators to identify Grimaldi as the third person connected to this horrific tragedy,” according to the release.

Grimaldi was interviewed Tuesday by detectives and said he also lived in the Tan Oak Apartments with Miracle and another friend in October, according to the criminal complaint. Grimaldi said he did not know Thoma “personally” but had seen him around the apartment complex.

From news reports, Grimaldi said he knew something happened to Thoma but did not know anything else, according to the complaint. Grimaldi said he was close with both Wilton and Miracle, but they never mentioned anything to him about Thoma. He said the pair “seemed to be going down a bad road” that he did not want to go down “otherwise he would be in their shoes,” according to the complaint.

Grimaldi told authorities that Miracle said he wanted to kill Thoma because he believed him to be a “pedophile crackhead,” according to the complaint.

During an interview with detectives, Grimaldi at first denied being at the apartment complex during the time Thoma was killed. He eventually admitted to going with Miracle to be a lookout while Miracle shot Thoma in the woods, according to the complaint.

After about five minutes, he heard a single gunshot, Grimaldi said. Miracle then called Wilton, and Grimaldi said he spoke to him as if Wilton already knew the plan to kill Thoma, according to the complaint. Wilton arrived, and the three drove to a fire pit, where they burned their clothes. Wilton supplied Grimaldi and Miracle with a change of clothes.

The three then returned to the site of Thoma’s body, and Miracle “dragged Thoma into a hole.” Grimaldi held the flashlight while Miracle covered the grave with dirt, according to the complaint. Grimaldi described the gravesite the way the man who found his body described it to police.

Grimaldi is due back in court Thursday, and both Wilton and Miracle are due back in court March 30. If convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, each faces life in prison.

Attempts to reach Thoma’s family and attorneys for the defendants were not returned.