Lantern Project: Since October 2013, Hope House has joined with other domestic violence programs around the state by implementing the Lantern Project. For our part in this statewide project, we added to the lamppost in front of Hope House a purple wreath. We will turn on the light for a week every time there is a death related to domestic violence in Wisconsin. We will post information online about the person(s) that was killed. If you drive by our building and see our lamppost on, please reflect on the deadly impact that domestic violence has on our communities. We know the list of stories we post here is incomplete. We strive to learn about and share these stories but know that there are some that we and the media miss. If you see a news story of a death in WI related to domestic violence and don't see it posted here, please feel free to let us know about it here. Thank you.
February 20th, 2018 Lyle Leith, Age 77, Wausau
WAUSAU - A man facing disorderly conduct charges reportedly threatened the 77-year-old Wausau man who was found dead earlier this week, telling the victim's daughter "You will all pay."
Lee A. Franck, 56, of Niagara in Florence County, appeared in court Thursday on two counts of disorderly conduct as a repeat domestic abuser. A judge set a $750,000 cash bond.
Lyle Leith was found dead in his garage along Kickbusch Street by his daughter on Tuesday morning. Police have been investigating the incident as a homicide but have not released a cause of death.
Wausau police announced Wednesday night that they searched a home in Florence County and arrested a man in the home on suspicion of felony domestic violence. They did not elaborate on his connection to Leith's death.
According to the criminal complaint:
Franck had been in a relationship with Leith's daughter, who is not named, and lived with her off and on in Wausau. Most recently, he lived with her from mid-January to Feb. 17.
On Feb. 17, Franck and the woman argued at home about their relationship and the care of her mother, who is bedridden with a terminal condition. Leith was also present and tried to de-escalate the situation, but Franck told him to leave and mind his own business. In defending her father, Leith, the woman asked Franck to leave. Franck told Leith and the woman, "You will all pay," and said God is the only one who could judge him.
Franck slowly gathered his belongings and took them to his car, then sat in the vehicle outside the woman's home until 11:30 p.m. before leaving. The woman believed he had been drinking and using prescription medications at the time.
The next day, the woman had several conversations with Franck via the mobile phone app FaceTime. Franck was screaming at her and said she and her family were killing her mother. Franck repeatedly threatened her, including comments that she was “f---ing with the wrong person” and that he would “hurt you to the point you can’t return from it.” He insulted her family and called Leith “worthless” and “useless,” accusing him of wanting his ex-wife dead. He said he hoped his former girlfriend and her family would die. He also said to the woman, “Maybe it will all come true for you.”
The woman also received disturbing text messages from Franck on Feb. 18, including one that states, in part, "You better be prepared before I come and kick your butt.” He also reiterated via text that she “f---ed with the wrong person.” The woman responded to Franck with a text message saying she was afraid of him.
The woman informed police that she would seek a restraining order against Franck with Leith's help.
Franck was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2008 and placed on three years of probation and ordered to undergo counseling, according to online Marathon County court records. In 2013, he was sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $200 after he was accused of getting in a fight with his brother-in-law while armed with a knife.
He is scheduled to appear in court next for a review hearing on Feb. 28.