Infamous murder site burns
by Greg Marsten
Leader staff writer
TOWN OF BONE LAKE – Firefighters from both the Luck and Milltown fire departments were called to a blaze on Monday, May 13, at the site of the gruesome 2009 murder of Stephen Dahlstrom in rural Luck. The home at 895 250th Ave. is believed to still be owned by convicted murderer Wayne Rouillard, 65, who is incarcerated at a maximum-security state mental facility for the 2009 murder of his "best friend," Stephen Dahlstrom, 61.
Rouillard is currently serving a 40-year sentence for Dahlstrom's murder after being convicted in 2011 of second-degree intentional homicide, but also being ruled mentally incompetent for his actions. He had not lived at the home since Nov. 28, 2009 -- the night of the murder in the garage -- which is also where the fire originated.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Department, the fire was called in by a passerby at 3:48 p.m. on Monday, and authorities hinted they believe the cause may be suspicious.
"We are involved in the investigation and have requested assistance of the state fire marshal," stated Polk County Sheriff Peter Johnson. "I believe that the house still belongs to (Wayne) Rouillard, although I don't know who is taking care of it while he's gone."
The garage was fully engulfed within moments of the call, and firefighters tried to keep the adjacent home from also being consumed, but smoke could be seen coming from the attic vents and windows of the home.
The garage was a total loss, and is where Rouillard admitted to killing Dahlstrom that night in 2009 after a night of drinking led to the gruesome murder.
Rouillard was initially charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the stabbing murder of Dahlstrom. In court proceedings on the murder, it was revealed that the two friends drank a large amount of vodka before arguing over unspecified issues. Rouillard reportedly brutalized Dahlstrom with as many as six different instruments during the crime, including a Phillips screwdriver, pry bar, hammer, splitting maul, carpet knife and a military knife.
He was later found guilty of second-degree intentional homicide, but claimed not to be legally responsible for his actions under a so-called NGI plea, where he can be convicted of the crime but found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, under state statutes.
After an extensive series of hearings and mental health evaluations, Polk County Circuit Court Judge Molly GaleWyrick ruled in June 2011 that Rouillard was indeed not guilty under the NGI plea. However, with his intrinsic guilt of committing the homicide, he is being held for up to 40 years in a maximum-security mental institution.
According to the state of Wisconsin, an NGI conviction is dramatically different than just serving a prison sentence: "The legal effect of a finding of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect is that the court must commit the defendant to the custody of the Department of Health and Family Services," the state court system reminds.
The current status of his home is unclear, although it did show up on the Multiple Listing Service as being for sale at one time. Rouillard had a number of vehicles and recreational items including a large boat and camper that have since been sold, possibly to cover his legal costs or possible restitution.
The Leader will continue to follow the investigation into the cause of the blaze and any subsequent results.
Firefighters from the Luck and Milltown fire departments responded to a blaze at the former home of Wayne Rouillard, the convicted killer of Stephen Dahlstrom in 2009. Dahlstrom was brutally murdered in this garage, which caught fire and burned under suspicious circumstances on Monday, May 13 in the Town of Bone Lake. - Photo by Greg Marsten