Man arrested for attempted murder in Howard

The woman said it's a miracle she survived and she's afraid if he posts bond and gets out of jail
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 12:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 10:11 PM CDT
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HOWARD, Wis. (WBAY) - A 36-year-old Howard man is jailed on a charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Investigators say he shot a woman in the head, but she survived and appeared in court Monday to speak out.

Joseph Vandertie was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide by use of a dangerous weapon, first-degree reckless injury by use of a dangerous weapon, and battery and disorderly conduct with domestic abuse assessments.

According to the criminal complaint filed Monday, a man called emergency dispatchers, yelling hysterically that his girlfriend had been shot on Alta St. in the village of Howard Saturday. Deputies found the woman in a hallway in a pool of blood from a gunshot wound to the head. They began first aid until EMS arrived. She was taken to a hospital.

A woman in a car parked in front of the home told deputies her husband, Joseph Vandertie, shot the woman in the house. She gave deputies a description and said he had a .22 caliber revolver.

While deputies swept the house, a deputy found a number of firearms, knives and swords in a bedroom, and what appeared to be a .22 caliber revolver in an open, wall-mounted safe.

The man who called 911 told deputies he and his girlfriend came over because Vandertie’s wife said Vandertie was acting erratically and she needed help. The man tried to speak with Vandertie. The victim and Vandertie’s wife went into the house to retrieve the wife’s dog, and that’s when Vandertie shot the woman.

The shooting victim was put in intensive care but was able to talk with investigators. The complaint described she was shot on the right side of the head near her temple and had an exit wound above her ear.

The woman said she was friends with Vandertie’s wife for 3 or 4 months. She and her boyfriend came over because the wife asked for help and said her husband was repeatedly hitting her in the head. The victim said Vandertie appeared to be high on “something worse than weed.” He could barely get off the couch, then he wrestled with the dog and appeared to be hurting it. He eventually began walking toward the bedrooms.

The wife asked the woman to see if Vandertie went to lie down. When the woman went around the corner, she was shot. Her statement in the complaint reads, “He didn’t even have to move the gun. It was evident that he was pointing it in the direction of anyone who was going to walk into the hallway. Joe fired the gun as soon as he saw me.”

The wife told investigators her husband used cocaine “only once every couple months” and was never abusive to her before now. She said after the shooting she got into the man’s truck and locked the doors. She saw her dog run out of the house and pulled it into the truck with her. Then she saw her husband chasing the man with a machete. Her husband then ran off.

Officers from multiple agencies searching for Vandertie found him about a half-hour later, less than a mile from the house. He was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation and then booked into the Brown County jail.

Vandertie told investigators he uses cocaine and Percocet, but that night he started feeling funny. He knew in his heart that the people in his house were trying to kill him. He wanted his wife to stay away from the heroin. He described feeling scared and angry and like a caged animal. He went into a room, got a gun, and shot the first person he saw. He said he dropped the gun and ran and eventually laid down to rest in some tall grass.

Investigators asked if he remembered if something like a knife was involved. Vandertie said he remembered using a machete to stab a man’s car as a warning to stay away.

The woman who was shot spoke at Vandertie’s court appearance Monday. She told the court, “He looked me at my eyes and shot me point blank. What if I would’ve died? He shot me right at my temple. Like it’s a miracle that I’m even alive right now. I’m scared if he were to make bond.”

“I have three daughters -- 16, 13, and 11 years old. They almost lost their mom last night for going to help out my friend,” she added.

Vandertie’s wife told the court her husband is not a dangerous man.

“This isn’t him. He’s never laid a hand on me in 13 years. We’ve been together since 2009. He’s never been violent with me, nothing. He’s been using guns since he could walk,” his wife said.

Prosecutors asked for bond of a quarter-million dollars.

“I will acknowledge the defendant doesn’t have a record, but these are extremely serious charges and there’s a very dangerous conduct alleged in the complaint,” Ryan Spaude with the Brown County District Attorney’s Office argued.

Court Commissioner Paul Burke set Vandertie’s bond at $100,000 cash. “The state has a strong case, it appears. State of mind may be the issue and the only issue, but factually he shot someone in the head at very close short range.”

If Vandertie posts bail, he’ll be on GPS monitoring and can’t leave the county. He can’t have possession of any dangerous weapons, must maintain absolute sobriety, and can’t have any contact with the people involved in the incident.

The penalty for attempted murder is life in prison if convicted.

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