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JEALOUSY, OBSESSION & MURDER
Lisa Chiaski, Bill Buss, and Lori Esker all attended Wirtenberg - Birnamwood
Lisa Chiaski. an Assistant Sales and Catering Manager (at a motel near
Wausau) has a dream of becoming a travel agent. But her heart is tied up
with Bill Buss, a young farmer who's cows have won top state honors for
milk productivity. Lisa isn't much into the farming aspect of her boyfriend.
Jennifer Van Order (Lisa's friend) "Lisa never wanted to be a farmer."
They've been dating for 6 years and the only source of contention
between them seems to be her desire to be a travel agent.
Although they still care about each other, Lisa thinks a bit of space
is called for. Bill reluctantly agrees.
Bill Buss dates Lori Esker (20), (majoring in agriculture and journalism
at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls), off and on for about a year
and a half.
Bill and Lori have a business arrangement as well. Bill keeps 17 head
of Lori's cows on his farm. When she is home from college she tends
to them. Lori begins to view this arrangement as a prelude to their
1989 - January - Bill, on his part, is feeling the souring of the dating
relationship he has had with Lori. He is unaware of
the depth of her obsession with him.
Bill and Lisa get back in touch and speak often on
While at college Lori speaks constantly of Bill, saying they are engaged,
but never shows her friends a ring. She window shops for wedding
dresses. Friends notice Lori is obsessed with Bill.
1989 - June - Bill Buss takes Lori Esker to a street dance, and while there,
tells her it's over between them. Lori is devastated.
Tammy Zack (Friend of Lori) "She just didn't want to break up.
Sometimes she cried."
Lori isn't about to give up. She doesn't like "losing," at anything.
Both Lisa and Lori are at Bill's farm on the same day and
a loud, shouting argument breaks out between them.
1989 - June 23 - Lori Esker (20) is crowned Dairy Princess of Marathon County.
Twice Lori waylays Bill Buss in his home late at night after
milking chores are done. Dressed in a skimpy nightgown
she climbs into his bed. Bill rebuffs her.
She phones him frequently and begs Alan Andrus (friend of Bill's)
to intercede for her. She desperately wants to get back toghether
Lori calls one of Bill's friend's home and catches Bill there.
She sobs "How could you do this to me?" Bill hangs up on
Lori is heard to say "I could just kill her! Just kill her!"
At college Lori's obsession deepens, her only focus in life is how
to get Bill back.
Bill decides he's going to ask Lisa to marry him on her birthday, October 25th.
1989 - September - 18 - Someone gossips to Lori that "Lisa is pregnant."
Lori is horrified. If Lisa is pregnant, it was only by
Bill, thus putting him out of her reach.
She phones Bill to confront him but he denies that
rumor is true. Lori doesn't believe Bill.
Lori goes to the Buss farm and Lori lies to Bill
saying "I just want you to know that I have
accepted the fact that you and Lisa are back to-
gether, and I am going to leave you alone now.
Lori Esker has no intention of leaving Bill Buss alone...ever.
Lori Esker phones Lisa Chiaski's place of work to find out
her work schedule.
1989 - September 20 - Lori leaves a message on a friend's answering
machine "Hi. This is Lori, I am going to the library,
maybe I will talk to you later."
Lori Esker has no intention of going to the library. She
points her vehicle towards Wausau, where Lisa works
at the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge in Rib Mountain.
She hadn't been able to rent a car in someone else's
name so she used her own car to drive to Wausau.
She waits in her car until Lisa leaves work and
enters the parking lot. The two get into Lisa's
car to talk.
However, when the Lori brings up whether Lisa is
pregnant, the two begin to argue heatedly. While
arguing Lori sees a belt lying on the back seat.
She grabs it and swiftly wraps it around Lisa's
neck pulling it tight.
Lori thinks Lisa has passed out, but Lisa Chiaski
is dead. She lets go of the belt.
Grabbing a mirror, Lori holds it to Lisa's face to see
if she's breathing. "Oh my God, I killed her!" Lori
takes a ring off of Lisa's finger, exits Lisa's car and
gets into her own and speeds away. She throws
Lisa's ring into a dumpster.
1989 - September 21 - Lisa Chiaski's mother Shirley is worried. Lisa's
missing and no one has heard from her. She
drives over to where Lisa works and discovers
her daughter's dead body slumped inside her
Investigators question family and friends of Lisa Chiaski, including Bill Buss.
It doesn't take them long to hone in on a suspect.
1989 - September 28 - Police arrest Lori Esker.
Lori tells detectives that she'd gone to speak with
Lisa to "straighten things out" and that when the
argument became heated, she feared for her life.
She hadn't intended to hurt "her friend."
Lori Esker "I thought she was going to kill me or really hurt me."
I pushed on her, I don't know if it was the belt, or my
Police don't buy the self defense story.
Lori takes a lie detector test and fails.
Bill Buss encourages her to "tell the truth."
Lori Esker confesses to murdering Lisa Chiaski
Sheriff's Deputy Randall Hoenisch asks Lori to demonstrate how Lisa was
Deputy Randall Hoenisch "I was surprised at her strength. She was not
shy, nor hesitant how she did this. In fact,
Esker became quite aggressive when applying
pressure to my throat with her forearm, lifting
me up off my chair and pushing me against a
wall in the interview room. She quickly took my
belt in a split second and she had it wrapped
around my neck and once again applied a
good amount of pressure. She had a very
intent look on her face, and at no time did
Stephen Glynn (attorney for Lori Esker) would claim her confession was coerced.
1989 - October 2 - Marathon County Circuit Court - Lori Esker is in court on
the charge of intentional first degree homicide.
Counselors are brought into the college to deal with shocked reactions from
students who are having trouble dealing with the fact that the Lori they knew
would do such a thing.
MURDER TRIAL TO BEGIN Newspaper Article & Photo of Lori Esker
District Attorney Greg Gau "Witnesses will estify Esker was all
but obsessed with Bill Buss, a farmer from
nearby Eland, who intended to marry Lisa
Chiaski, and that she took revenge by
"Buss will testify that the last time he saw Esker
before Chiaski's death was on September 18,
when she came to the Buss farm to tell him
she decided to leave them alone."
"In the days that followed Esker had embarked
upon a mission of secrecy that ended in a
friend's death. Evidence will show that Lori
called Lisa's place of work to learn her schedule,
and tried to rent a car in someone else's name.
to drive to Wausau. She also wanted her friends
to believe she was studying in the UW - River Falls
library the night Chiaski was strangled."
Stephen Glynn (Lori Esker's attorney)
"Strangulation is not something "that a jury can easily
accept as unintentional."
"Lori Esker wasn't bent on murder when she confronted
Lisa Chiaski. She had no weapon with her. You'll have
no trouble establishing that Lori Esker killed Lisa Chiaski.
However, you'll see no evidence she intended
to kill Chiaski."
"When considering the intent necessary for a conviction,
focus on the time, place and manner of the crime. What
Lisa Chiaski was the belt of Lisa Chiaski's. You're not
going to hear any evidence whatsoever that anyone
observed any weapon, or the results of any weapon,
except the weapon, which tragically, Lisa had brought
into her automobile."
"The evidence is going to show that this 17 year old girl
is pursued and romanced by this 23 year old man,
and suddenly that relationship ends. And that is where
some of the hostility occurs among the triangle of
Lisa, Lori and Bill."
The jury is shown enlarged evidence photos of Lisa Chiaski's body, with red
bruises visible about the neck.
Tammy Zack (Lori Esker's former roommate at College) testifies to Lori's
upset over losing Bill Buss. Then she testifies about two phone
calls that Lori made to her after Lisa Chiaski's death.
"Esker said that the two began talking and then fighting over
Buss, but when Lisa pulled her hair, she had grabbed a belt,
put it around Chiaski and Chiaski fainted. Esker never told
her that she intended to kill Chiaski, or that she was glad
she was dead."
Witnesses testify that Esker called Cihaski a ''bitch'' and a ''slut. That "Lisa
only wanted Buss for his money and his farm."
Bill Buss testifies: "Lori twice tried to seduce me by sneaking
into my bedroom after midnight and disrobing
in front of me. One night she wore a ''red teddy''
and the next time ''blue teddy." I made her
leave each time."
1990 - June 15 - After 7 hours, jurors deliver a verdict - GUILTY.
The Chiaski family is in court and are elated
with the verdict. Outside the courthouse they
hug and exclaim "Yes! Yes!"
Vilas Chiaski (Lisa's father) "She (Lori) always had to be number
one, and she got number one."
Bill Buss "My life will never return to normal because Lisa will never
Defense says Intent was missing from events tied to strangulation.
Lori Esker pleads for leniency and apologizes.
Lori Esker "I am so sorry for all the pain and suffering I have caused."
If I could trade places with Lisa, I would in a minute. I ask
for a chance to begin paying back all the people I hurt so
bad. I will be punishing myself as long as I live. There isn't
a day that goes by that I don't think about what happened."
Shirley Chiaski "Lori Esker took something very precious from me. She
took something and destroyed it and it can never be
SENTENCE - Judge Michael Hoover sentences Lori to Life Imprisonment
but he made her eligible for parole in 13 years & 9 months
instead of 20 years.
Parole Eligibility: 2003
Judge Hoover "It's as much a tragedy that has befallen the defendant's family
as the Chiaski family. No one expects the Chiaski family to
understand that, at least not today. I know this sentence leaves
them wholly unsatisifed and perhaps that much farther away
1993 - Bill Buss announces his engagement to Linda Gritzmacher (legal secretary)
who has a five year old son.
Bill Buss "It's not totally behind me. Perhaps it never will."