Vandalism suspects appear in court
15 are charged with damage at Wilmot Primary school
By Jason Arndt
Nearly two years after a group of young adults allegedly vandalized the former Wilmot Primary Center School, a dozen people accused in the crime made their first appearances last week in Kenosha County Intake Court.
Six of the defendants received $15,000 signature bonds.
Meanwhile, three other defendants had their initial appearance either postponed or delayed, according to online court records.
Of the 15 defendants, eight have been charged with a collective total of 17 felonies, including criminal damage to property and burglary, court records state.
Additionally, three have misdemeanor charges of theft while all have at least one count of entry into a building without an owner’s consent, their criminal complaints contend.
Total damage, according to one criminal complaint, is estimated at $236,225.
The complaint reports that on April 21, 2015, when the facility was slated for sale, a staff member from Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated School discovered the damage and reported it to Kenosha County authorities.
School Board President Tom Steiner of the Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated School District remembered the incident left residents stunned, especially since the accused are from the area, most notably Trevor.
“I think everyone was shocked that this had happened in our community,” Steiner said. “Also, our community had to deal with the fact that this crime was likely committed by area residents. This was a bitter pill to swallow.”
Upon further inspection of damages, a school district staff member found a water fountain off the base of the wall, sawdust on the floor and broken windows in some of the classrooms.
Furthermore, a criminal complaint reported, antifreeze was poured along stairwells, and that someone used the gym to play basketball and other activities during the alleged crimes.
The complaint contends the offenders entered through a window above an air conditioning unit.
Damages to the school were extensive, Steiner said, noting the proposed sale to a buyer looking to use it as a private school for special needs children withdrew an offer to purchase.
Since then, according to multiple news sources, the prospective buyer found a property in the Village of Pleasant Prairie.
“We were hoping to repurpose the building in another educational role and it appeared we had done just that with the pending sale,” said Steiner. “Some of those most in need of social services were about to get an incredible resource in Western Kenosha County.”
“The timeline for remediation of the damage was a major factor in the sale falling through costing our community a wonderful new neighbor and a much-needed resource,” Steiner added.
Those charged with felonies who appeared in court last week are: Zachary Jones, 21, Trevor; Christopher Kirwan, 18, Trevor; Jessica M. Matthews, 21, now of Chicago; Casey Hamm, 21, Trevor; Steven N. Perez, 21, Trevor and Raymond L. Ewert, 21, Genoa City.
Also, two people charged with felonies have not made their initial appearances, including David A. May Jr., 21, Trevor; Aaron M. Working, 21, Kenosha.
The other six who made their first appearances on misdemeanor charges entered not guilty pleas and received $10,000 signature bonds. They are:
Jessica Velez, 21, Trevor; Jose Angel Delgado-Cordova, 20, Round Lake, Ill.; Kyle Samples, 21, Wilmot; Jacob M. Madriaga, 21, Wilmot; Collin R. Robinson, 19, Genoa City; Adam M. Sanchez, 17, Trevor.
MacKenzie J. Neuroth, 25, Trevor, has not made an initial appearance.
Building vacated in 2011
With limited space, among other concerns, Steiner said students moved out of the building and into Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated School by the 2011-12 school year.
Wilmot Primary Center, which housed students in kindergarten through second grade, received modular classrooms to meet student needs.
“We did use all the space and the temporary modular classrooms as well,” Steiner said. “That was a big reason why we moved out of the building. It was not very effective as a school building and hindered the academic growth of the students.”
Steiner, however, credited voters for passing a referendum, which led to a better building on Highway C, where students have reportedly excelled.
“We asked the voters to approve a referendum to replace the structure and they approved,” he said. “We now have a much more efficient building and has, in my opinion, helped increase the academic success of our students.”
Since students left, Wilmot Primary Center has been used for community events on occasion.