Minnesota man arrested in La Crosse double murder

Minnesota man arrested in La Crosse photo store murders

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Home of Jeffrey Lepsch in Dakota, Minn. Photo by Tim Blotz / FOX 9 News. Home of Jeffrey Lepsch in Dakota, Minn. Photo by Tim Blotz / FOX 9 News.

Police arrested and charged a Minnesota man with the murders of a father and son who were found dead at their photography store in La Crosse, Wis.

Officials say robbery appears to be the motive, as $16,000 in camera equipment was stolen.

Jeffrey Lepsch, 39, of Dakota, Minn., is charged with two counts of first-degree homicide in the deaths of 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son, A.J. Petras. Lepsch also faces one count of armed robbery and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The father and son were found shot to death on Sept. 15 in the family's downtown La Crosse photo shop.

La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tischer said surveillance video shows Lepsch entering and leaving the shop, and more than 150 surveillance cameras captured footage of a blue van with an unusual feature.

"It was a trailer hitch that was turned upside down, and it was a unique feature," said Capt. Robert Lawrence, of the La Crosse Police Department.

Investigators traced the van to Lepsch's house in Minnesota, where they recovered 14 pieces of stolen camera equipment.

An extradition hearing for Lepsch scheduled for late Thursday morning was canceled. He is currently being held in the Winona County Jail.

Lepsch has a previous felony theft conviction on his record from when he stole $60,000 in merchandise from an Ace Hardware and tried to fence it on eBay in 2003.

Friends of the victims told FOX 9 News they are relieved an arrest has been made.

A memorial fund has been established at Governmental Employee Credit Union in La Crosse, with the goal of raising enough money to honor A.J. and Paul Petras with two memorial benches at Mt. La Crosse.

225 La Crosse Street
P.O. Box 579
La Crosse, WI 54602-0579
Phone: (608) 785-7720

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