LAKE HALLIE, Wis. (WCCO) — Prosecutors say 21-year-old Colten Treu was under the influence of drugs when he killed three Girl Scouts and a mother in Wisconsin.
Authorities say 9-year-old Jayna Kelley, 10-year-old Autumn Helgeson, 10-year-old Haylee Hickle and her 32-year-old mother, Sara Jo Schneider, died after a truck hit them while they were picking up trash along a road in Lake Hallie.
Another 10-year-old Girl Scout is hospitalized in stable condition.
Treu turned himself in to police after driving away.
Treu appeared in Chippewa County Court just after 11 a.m. Monday. He’s facing multiple charges, including four counts of homicide by intoxicated use.
The court appearance lasted about six minutes, and during much of it, Treu sat quietly with his hands folded as a prosecutor detailed what happened Saturday morning. He told the court that Treu and a friend went to Walmart that morning and bought shotgun shells and a can of Air Duster.
“On the way back, they were huffing the air duster and the passenger noticed as they were coming down Highway P, that there were people on the side of the road and noticed a vehicle was veering towards that side of the road,” the prosecutor said.
The passenger told police that Treu looked like he was “out of it,” so they grabbed the steering wheel to try and bring the truck back onto the road. They said Treu then became angry, grabbed the steering wheel back, over-corrected and drove into the ditch near the Highway 29 overpass.
The truck hit and killed 9-year-old Jayna Kelley and 10-year-old Autumn Helgeson — both of Lake Hallie. Also killed were 10-year-old Haylee Hickle of Chippewa Falls and her mom, 32-year-old Sarah Jo Schneider. Police say Treu never stopped and tried to hide the truck in a garage.
“He had the truck put in the garage; had another vehicle that was behind it to hide the identity of where the truck may be. He then proceeded to go to a party with some friends,” added the prosecutor.
After a vigil for the victims on Sunday night, Jayna Kelley’s father Brian wrote on his Facebook page: “Thank you to all the friends, family, coworkers, students and complete strangers that came to the candlelight vigil tonight. I’ve never seen anything like it. If I’m honest, one of my predominant emotions has been anger. The vigil made me peaceful. I am thankful to whoever organized it.”
Treu’s attorney had asked for a $1,000 bond, but the judge set it at $250,000 — calling Treu a flight risk due to the extended jail time he faces. Another girl who was hit remains hospitalized tonight. Her condition has been upgraded from critical to stable.