Man From Winthrop Accused of Killing Another on Property in Sibley County

On Monday, March 13, authorities in Sibley County said that a 46-year-old man from Winthrop had been charged with second-degree murder in connection with a death that occurred in September. On Friday, law enforcement officials in Sibley County, Iowa, located and apprehended Travis Joel Bauer, even before he could be formally charged in court.

The death of Dennis Duane Weitzenkamp, 76, on September 20, 2022, on a farm located in rural Winthrop prompted the investigation into him. According to a press release from the Sibley County Attorney’s Office, indictments from a grand jury are required for any accusations higher than second-degree murder, which can be brought against an individual through a formal complaint.

According to the charges against Bauer, he committed the alleged crime with the deliberate intention of killing someone, but without any prior planning. According to a criminal complaint, an autopsy performed on September 21 revealed that Weitzenkamp was shot in the back of the head at an unknown distance.

Winthrop man charged with murder
Winthrop man charged with murder

According to the complaint, at approximately 2:35 p.m. on September 20th, Bauer contacted 911 and reported that Weitzenkamp was unresponsive at the property. Logan Anderson, chief of police in Winthrop, came on the scene and said he found Weitzenkamp in the machine shed, slumped over in a chair with a puddle of blood underneath him.

According to Anderson, he had a wound on the back of his head from when he was shucking corn. There was no indication of theft or burglary at the spot, and no one saves Bauer and Weitzenkamp appeared to have been at the farm that day. In the complaint, Bauer is said to have “helped (Weitzenkamp) farm his land for many years and was considered part of the family.”

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After questioning Bauer, police learned that the two had been at the property before returning home for lunch. He stated he got back to the farm around 1:30 to fix up a tractor, then departed again between 2:15 and 3:15 to stop by NAPA in Winthrop for antifreeze and other supplies.

He claimed to have spoken with Weitzenkamp as he drove south on County Road 57 on his way to NAPA from the north. He claimed that after returning from NAPA, he took the antifreeze to the machine shed, where he located Weitzenkamp and, after shouting his name to no avail, contact 911.

The two men remained at the farm until noon, and then Weitzenkamp left for Winthrop at 12:12 p.m., and Bauer left for rural Winthrop at 12:15 p.m., according to the report by law enforcement officials who used cellphone location data to corroborate the men’s whereabouts.

According to reports, Bauer returned to the property about 1:21 p.m., while Weitzenkamp set off for the farm around 2:05 p.m. and both men arrived at or before 2:16 p.m. Phone records, according to the investigation team, disprove Bauer’s story that he didn’t see Weitzenkamp at the property after they split up for lunch.

The complaint alleges that at 2:22 p.m., Bauer was spotted near his home on 521th Avenue. At 2:27 p.m., he was seen heading west on Highway 19. By 2:28 p.m., he had arrived at NAPA. Weitzenkamp was last observed by a squad camera at 2:07 p.m. After waiting for 28 minutes, Bauer finally dialed 911 for assistance.

On September 28, police re-interviewed Bauer and told him his earlier story about how he got to NAPA couldn’t be genuine based on information from his smartphone and CCTV cameras. According to the lawsuit, he admitted lying due to nervousness and allegedly confirmed he followed the mobile location data.

After questioning Bauer for the first time, authorities took his belongings into evidence. Bauer claimed in the complaint that the last time he discharged a gun was three weeks earlier, however, lab results indicated that gunshot residue was present on Bauer’s cap and slacks, and “elements indicative of” gunshot residue were present on Bauer’s shirt and belt.

According to the findings of the investigation, Bauer had a lot of debt at the time of Weitzenkamp’s death. According to the complaint, Bauer was set to “enjoy significant pecuniary gain from (Weitzenkamp’s) death” according to the trust arrangements.

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