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Prisoner Obtains Holiday Pass to Visit Beating Victim

December 5, 1993

FRANKLIN, Wis. (AP) _ A man jailed for beating and harassing a woman got a Thanksgiving Day pass after asking in writing to visit her.

Fifteen minutes after walking out the Milwaukee County House of Correction, David Schlemm was on Renae Hertlein’s porch, demanding to come in as she hid inside a locked bathroom.

″For him to be at the door was unbelievable,″ said Hertlein’s mother, Joanne Bushberger, who ran into the street in her pajamas crying for help. ″That’s like Charles Manson going to the Tates’ for Thanksgiving.″

The women are threatening to sue the county. House of Corrections officials apologized and pledged to keep a closer eye on those receiving holiday passes.

Jail security manager Jerry Weinzatl admitted a mistake was made.

″Thank God it wasn’t worse. This tells me that when Christmas comes, let’s watch these things a little closer,″ Weinzatl said. ″I don’t want to minimize this thing. It’s a damn shame it happened.″

Hertlein, 31, says she met Schlemm in the summer of 1992, dated him once and couldn’t get rid of him. Court records say Schlemm forced himself into her life and her home.

Schlemm, 24, was sentenced in May to nine months in jail for battering Hertlein and violating a court order to stay away from her. He had work- release privileges at the suburban jail, but never used them because he had no job.

For decades, holiday passes have been given on Thanksgiving and Christmas to prisoners who are eligible for work release, Weinzatl said.

On Schlemm’s Thanksgiving pass application, he wrote that he wanted to visit Hertlein, calling her his fiancee and spelling both her names wrong. He listed an address where she’d moved with help from a battered women’s shelter.

A list of inmates considered for passes is sent to judges and the district attorney’s office, Weinzatl said. The list didn’t say where Schlemm was planning to go, so no judge or prosecutor objected.

Schlemm was back in jail, charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing for his visit to Hertlein. If convicted as a habitual offender, Schlemm faces up to seven years in state prison.

A hearing was expected to be scheduled this week on whether to revoke his work-release privileges.

Weinzatl conceded Schlemm’s history of violence toward Hertlein should have precluded any holiday pass. Schlemm also had a history of misusing jail passes.

Six weeks after he was jailed, Schlemm got a six-hour pass to see a dentist. He never showed up for his dental appointment and nearly three weeks passed before police found him. He received 45 more days in jail for escape.

Hertlein’s mother said her daughter has endured death threats, chipped teeth, black eyes, and property damage, so the holiday pass was particularly galling.

″This girl has been running for her life for a year and a half,″ Bushberger said. ″Now I’m involved, and I will do whatever it takes to stop this maniac and the system from letting people like this out.″

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