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A new detective takes over the John Zera homicide investigation and discovers a serial killer with Wisconsin ties.
By 2009, Detective Kent Schoonover fears the chance to solve John Zera's murder has slipped away, in part because the eccentric medical examiner who did the autopsy made a mess of it.
Two years after John Zera was murdered, an anonymous tip about a Franklin High substitute teacher with an unusual interest in boys' feet would generate a new prime suspect.
The day after John Zera's body was found, Daniel Acker was found standing over the crime scene in Whitnall Park. His alibi for the day of John's death was shaky, but police dismissed him. Acker would strike up a correspondence with the Zera family and start his own investigation into the case, pointing the finger at a mental patient at the facility where he worked.
In 2009, police investigating the 1976 homicide of John Zera catch a break when a swim coach is arrested for child molesting. A search of the man's condo reveals clues about John's case.
Before John Zera, Hales Corners Detective Howard Hingiss had only handled one murder case. While he narrowed down the suspect list, with the help of the F.B.I. and other departments, he would never discover the identity of the murderer. Twenty-five years after his retirement, and almost 40 years after the crime, the question of who killed John remains unsolved.
On Feb. 20, 1976, freshman John Zera disappeared from a high school in suburban Milwaukee. In the early days, John's family hoped for his safe return. Later, they prayed whoever was responsible for his disappearance would be brought to justice. Finally, they clung to hope that advances in technology or someone with a guilty conscience would someday offer an explanation of what happened to their Johnny. And why. In this episode, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Gina Barton looks at how the case began and what drew her to it.
Comments (29)

ID17993474

This story could be told in one sitting. The podcasts are half ads, 40% recap, and 10% story.

Mar 12th
Reply

ID17993474

This story could be told in one sitting. The podcasts are half ads, 40% recap, and 10% story.

Mar 12th
Reply

Judi Carolina

most excellent story. I don't listen to crime series. I prefer one story per episode. I'm glad I listened to all of your story. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sep 4th
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Judi Carolina

if you wanna get away with any crime at all...do it in Wisconsin ‼️

Sep 3rd
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Judi Carolina

the police sure missed something... EVERY THING,‼️‼️🤬

Sep 3rd
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Judi Carolina

SH##‼️‼️‼️

Sep 3rd
Reply

Judi Carolina

det quarmie?? I've got some quarmes there. what a sh## investigation!

Sep 3rd
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Judi Carolina

very sad for mum 😢

Sep 3rd
Reply

Judi Carolina

Bloody hell ‼️ even Quincy was smarter than her and that show was in the 70s‼️😱

Sep 3rd
Reply

Heather Hanna

did they ever investigate Joe? he probably took michelle and used Terry to get her

Feb 29th
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Megan Langreck

This dude was a POS, a rapist, abuser etc. Glad he was investigated thoroughly.

Nov 21st
Reply (1)

Megan Langreck

This is why he was killed. Not for giving masses in Latin or anything like that. And the sexual "misconduct" type stuff goes back to the beginnings of the Church itself, it didn't start because of the '60's or whatever Catholics think.

Nov 21st
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Megan Langreck

I would hate to be this senior gentleman now, defending the utterly sh$%%y decision to classify this as an "accident". The one DA is just being common decent and ethical like we all should be, all the time, but right now he is looking like a mighty superhero in my eyes. Just for having common sense and decency and not wanting to be lazy about this child's death.

Nov 21st
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Megan Langreck

Abusers and baby killers can sure LOVE a SIDS diagnosis can't they? A lot of baby killers have gotten away with it because of a jumpy to the conclusion of SIDS, and lazy coroners are their accomplices. Joe is a POS. Why are there so many POS's in this "safe" little community? Why do half the local cops love these POS's so much?

Nov 21st
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Megan Langreck

I would like to remind the old lady that they do not convict people for no reason, for things like rape and child molestation and child abuse. The Courts in fact have a very weak will for getting justice in those kinds of crimes. So if this guy got any time at all, for these crimes, he did something to deserve it. Even with Courts that bend over backwards to see that guys like this never see any consequences for their actions, this guy did time -- and it wasn't his Lawyer's fault. He is a lying manipulative POS, too, and why not. People will believe any POS who claims he didn't do it.

Nov 21st
Reply

Megan Langreck

Really difficult to listen to the old lady being an apologist for a convicted child molester.

Nov 21st
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Megan Langreck

I am appalled by the failures and the indifference of the Police involved here. They allowed petty interpersonal dislikes and departmental p@$$ing contest type stuff sabotage finding out what happened to this little girl. The fact that there was a local convicted child molester who resembled the sketch - that the detective they thought was a "nuisance" pushed to have released - is infuriating now. They were determined to rewrite the truth so that this little girl "ran away from home and fell in the river", and that scenario just isn't possible.

Nov 21st
Reply (2)

Megan Langreck

I regret but it needs saying: the father Mike was a DICK. Such a DICK. The Mom sure took a lot of Sh$& before she finally broke. Of course he finally "upgraded" to a "better" (likely much younger) wife.

Nov 21st
Reply

alli lent

if she did call Joe first I think that makes total sense.. she falls asleep with a friend over waiting for her husband to pick her up.. she wakes up to find her friend and daughter both gone.. it totally makes sense to call just to make sure her daughter didn't go with him for whatever reason

Oct 22nd
Reply (1)

alli lent

why would it be weird for a woman who wants kids to want to see pictures of a new friend's kids? that's not suspicious at all.. I love seeing pictures of people's kids, doesn't mean I'm gonna kidnap one

Oct 22nd
Reply (1)
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