A neighbor close to a volatile incident in Columbus on Sunday confirmed the identity of the man authorities found dead in the house at 505 S. Birdsey St.
The body of David J. Heth, 51, was found by authorities in the home after a lengthy standoff with police. The state Department of Criminal Investigation has not released the cause of death or said whether any other people were in the home during the standoff. The Columbia County Medical Examiner, who is assisting with the investigation, declined to comment Tuesday.
Lt. Dennis Weiner from the Columbus Police Department released a brief press release Sunday morning stating law enforcement was investigating a “critical situation” along the 500 block of South Birdsey Street. The standoff did not end until later that afternoon.
On Tuesday, Weiner said the investigation is being handled by DCI.
“There is not much we can say on our end as the case had been turned over to DCI,” Weiner said. “They typically do not comment on ongoing investigations they are involved in. I wouldn’t want to say something and possibly jeopardize the investigation.”
Neighbor Paul Genco said he did not know Heth well, but was surprised by what transpired Sunday.
“They just moved in during the winter and no one was seen outside much until this spring,” Genco said.
According to Columbia County tax records, Heth purchased the home where the standoff took place in November 2017.
Police blocked off several streets near the residence and cordoned off a section near the home with police tape. Heth allegedly barricaded himself inside the home following a domestic dispute. His girlfriend ran to a neighbor’s home to call authorities for help.
Weiner said he was not aware of any prior incidents at Heth’s residence before Sunday’s standoff. Based on court records, Heth pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges – battery/domestic abuse and criminal damage to property/domestic abuse in 2013. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct in a 2014 case and pleaded no contest to another disorderly conduct charge in 2017. Each case was in Dane County.
Despite the tense scene Sunday, Genco said he believed police had the situation under control. Residents were told to avoid the area and neighbors were encouraged to stay inside their homes.
“I never felt like we were in any danger,” Genco said. “We stayed inside our house until we were told it was OK to go back outside. The police really did an excellent job.”
Genco said it is “back to normal” in a section of Columbus which is typically quiet and peaceful.