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Conservation Warden Wall of Honor

Einar P. Johnson

Neil L. LaFave

Researched by Judith Borke,
Wisconsin Conservation Warden Museum

Neil L. LaFave was a game technician with special conservation warden credentials when he was shot and killed by a violator in the Sensiba Wildlife Area in Brown County on September 24, 1971. The nine-year Department veteran had gone to the game preserve to post signs that afternoon but failed to return home in the evening, his 32nd birthday. His shot and decapitated body was found the next day, partially buried in a swampy area. A three-month investigation followed, and through questioning of all LaFave's acquaintances and hunters he had arrested for game violations, authorities became suspicious of one young hunter. The first-time use of Wisconsin's new Electronic Surveillance Law for a murder case helped convict a 21-year-old that LaFave had cited for hunting pheasants out of season earlier that fall in the Sensiba area. (After ten years in prison, the assailant escaped and was shot to death by a posse attempting to recapture him.) LaFave was survived by his wife Peggy and children, Nicole, 2 and Lonny, 4.

A large boulder cenotaph with an inscription was placed at the entrance to the Sensiba Wildlife Area in 1972 as a memorial to Neil LaFave. His name is engraved on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial on the State Capitol grounds in Madison.

(Sources: "Case of the Butchered Game Warden," by Eddie Krell, unknown magazine and date; warden memorial reporting form at Conservation Warden Museum, Poynette.)

Last revised: Wednesday March 28 2012