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Fugitive Hid in Makeshift Bunker for 3 Years To Avoid Child Sexual Assault and Pornography Charges

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In Feb. 2016, 44-year-old Jeremiah Button, who had been released on a $25,000 cash bond, was scheduled to appear in a Portage County, Wisconsin, court for charges of first-degree child sexual assault and possession of child pornography, but weeks before his court date he vanished.

Button eluded authorities for three years until a hunter stumbled upon his secret bunker in the woods in the neighboring county, Marathon. When the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene, they said that Button was willing to share information about himself and almost seemed happy for the human interaction.

Thomas Nelson has hunted near his Wausau, Wisconsin, home for his entire life, but a few months ago brush marks led him to a mysterious door. A little spooked, he quickly left the area but his curiosity continued to grow. When he returned on Friday, Aug. 9, the door was unlocked.

“I pushed the door open, and I look inside and I can see canned foods, there’s little storage boxes, and I’m like … I gotta go in,” Nelson told WSAW-TV. “I come around the corner a bit and there he is, laying in his bed.”

“I mean, I was shaking when I went in, I was shaking when I went out.”

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The local hunter then called MCSO, who eventually convinced Button to surrender after a 20-minute standoff.

Button openly shared how he had built the bunker from materials from a nearby landfill and equipped it with solar panels that powered a television, various lights and a radio. He even had a bike-power generator so he could still have power on cloudy days.

The bunker was filled with canned foods and various items from the nearby landfill that only added to the less than pleasing aroma of the small space.

“He was not only surviving, but thriving in this structure through all of the different supplies he was able to find,” Detective Lt. Jeff Stefonek said.

The structure was small enough to keep warm in the harsh, Wisconsin winters and cool in the humid summers.

It took Button a year and a half to build the initial version of the bunker — the amount of time between when he got out of bail and when he vanished in 2016.

He told deputies that he was mostly isolated from human contact, despite the occasional hiker. Lt. Stefonek said that isolation was the most surprising part of Button’s chosen lifestyle.

“Given the chance, I think the majority of the U.S. population would choose prison over this type of isolation from human contact,” Lt. Stefonek said.

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According to NBC, Button is currently in custody on a $100,000 cash bond. He is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 16, 2019.

The Department of Natural Resources will also take over the area and dismantle Button’s hideout.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
Birthplace
Tennessee
Honors/Awards
Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts
Location
Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
News, Crime, Lifestyle & Human Interest




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