Argument over money could be what led to Eau Claire murder - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Argument over money could be what led to Eau Claire murder

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Frederick Brian Harvey Frederick Brian Harvey
Larry Fernandez Larry Fernandez

Eau Claire (WQOW) - First degree murder charges were filed against Larry Fernandez on Tuesday.  He's the Ladysmith man accused of killing Brian Harvey.

Harvey, from Eau Claire, went missing on August 13th.  That's the same day that another man, Christopher Vinge, says he witnessed Fernandez killing Harvey.

According to court documents Harvey had bought a mobile home from Fernandez in July and was behind on payments, which apparently triggered the argument the night Harvey was killed.

"Vinge explained that Harvey and Fernandez had been arguing over money and that Fernandez strangled Mr. Harvey with a belt, causing his death," said Jerry Matysik, the Chief of Police in Eau Claire. "Vinge also stated that he observed Fernandez conceal Mr. Harvey's body, and was present during the transport of the body into Rusk County."

Vinge told police that all three of them had been drinking heavily and that Harvey and Fernandez had taken Oxycontin. Detectives say Vinge told them that Fernandez was screaming in Harvey's face about the money Harvey owed him. 

According to the criminal complaint, Vinge said when he came out of the bathroom Harvey was on the floor and Fernandez was straddling him with a belt criss-crossed over Harvey's throat. Investigators say Vinge told them that Fernandez went outside and returned with a body bag and put Harvey's body in it.  The next day the two men allegedly drove to Rusk County to bury the body.  But Vinge told police he eventually gave up because of difficulty digging a grave due to tree roots.

Investigators used Vinge's comments to get a search warrant for Fernandez' home and van.  After questioning Fernandez he was arrested.  Police say the next day he asked to speak to a detective.

Chief Matysik said, "On October 12th 2012 Larry Fernandez admitted to involvement in this crime and told officers exactly where Mr. Harvey's remains were located in Rusk County."

But police say Fernandez claimed Vinge was the killer and that Fernandez took control of disposing of the body.  They say after the first attempt at digging a grave failed Fernandez told them he drank for four days, as Harvey's body laid in his van.  They say he admitted then driving the body to a friend's property in Rusk County, where he and another friend dug a grave and Fernandez dumped bleach on the body before burying it.

"Other people were aware of and involved in this crime by assisting Fernandez in both concealing the body and helping to bury the body," continued Chief Matysik. "This part of the investigation is still on-going."

Police say Fernandez led them to the grave site, which was excavated Monday.  The body found there has been identified as that of Harvey.

Fernandez is behind held on $1 million bond.

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Investigators are releasing more details in the disappearance of an Eau Claire man. 

Larry Fernandez was arrested on Thursday in the disappearance of Frederick Brian Harvey.  Harvey was last seen in Eau Claire on August 13th.  

Police say they got a tip from Christopher Vinge, who says he saw Fernandez strangle Harvey at Harvey's home on Seymour Road using a belt.   Vinge told police the incident was the result of an argument over money.

According to court documents, Harvey bought a trailer from Fernandez in July.  The two had a written agreement that Harvey would pay Fernandez $9,100 for the trailer, with a down payment of $1,475.  Harvey also agreed to pay $600 a month.

Vinge told police he helped Fernandez transport Harvey's body to Rusk County.  

Police say the day after his arrest, Fernandez admitted his involvement and told police where to find the body.  A search of the site turned up Harvey's remains.

Police are still investigating the case and say they believe others were aware of the death and helped Fernandez get rid of Harvey's body.

Fernandez is being held on a charge of 1st degree intentional homicide.  Fernandez is scheduled to be in court at 3:00 PM on Tuesday.  WQOW News 18 has a reporter in court and will have more information when it becomes available.

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Eau Claire Police Department (Press Release) - The Eau Claire Police Department would like to express sincere condolences to the family and friends of Frederick Brian Harvey for their loss.

On October 11, 2012 Eau Claire Police Department detectives arrested Larry Fernandez for the murder of Mr. Harvey.

The following information is a summary of the investigation to date:

  • On August 28, 2012, the Eau Claire Police Department received a report from the family of Frederick Brian Harvey that they had not seen nor heard from him since August 7, 2012. The case was assigned to the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division for follow-up investigation.
  • Detectives conducted numerous interviews and obtained telephone and other records in an attempt to locate Mr. Harvey. Through this investigation it was determined that the last confirmed public sighting of Mr. Harvey was at a local convenience store on August 13, 2012.
  • The Eau Claire Police Department Crime Scene Unit also conducted a search of Mr. Harvey's residence and collected physical evidence for forensic examination. Additional searches have also been performed.
  • On October 10, 2012, an Eau Claire Police Department detective interviewed Christopher Vinge who revealed that he witnessed the homicide of Mr. Harvey. The homicide occurred on August 13, 2012 at Mr. Harvey's home, 3626 Seymour Road, Lot 71. Vinge explained that Harvey and Fernandez had been arguing over money and that Fernandez strangled Mr. Harvey with a belt, causing his death. Vinge also stated that he observed Fernandez conceal Mr. Harvey's body and was present during the transport of the body into Rusk County. Vinge pointed out a site where Fernandez initially planned to bury the body. Fernandez selected a grave site and although this sight was not ultimately used as the burial site, when police processed the site we located evidence which corroborated Vinge's story and linked Fernandez to the location.
  • On October 11, 2012, the Eau Claire Police Department, along with assistance from Barron County Sheriff's Office, Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office, Ladysmith Police Department, and Rusk County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at the residence of Larry Fernandez in Ladysmith, WI. Larry Fernandez was questioned and later arrested for the death of Frederick Brian Harvey.
  • At about the same time the search warrant was being executed at the Fernandez residence, Eau Claire Police (with assistance of the Rusk County Sheriff's Office and the West Central Drug Task Force) executed search warrants in Rusk County looking for Mr. Harvey's remains. We obtained assistance in our attempt to locate Mr. Harvey's remains from a Madison Police Department cadaver dog handler.
  • On October 12, 2012, Larry Fernandez admitted to involvement in this crime and told officers exactly where Mr. Harvey's remains were located in Rusk County. Eau Claire Police requested assistance from the State Crime Lab to help excavate the burial site.
  • On October 15, 2012, Eau Claire Police personnel and Wisconsin Department of Justice State Crime Lab personnel excavated the site and located human remains believed to be those of Frederick Brian Harvey. An autopsy was recently conducted and the remains have been positively identified as Frederick Brian Harvey.
  • Other people were aware of and involved in this crime by assisting Fernandez in both concealing the body and helping to bury the body. This part of the investigation is still ongoing.

The Eau Claire Police Department would like to thank the following people and organizations for their assistance with this investigation:
• Ladysmith Police Department
• Rusk County Sheriff's Office
• Barron County Sheriff's Office
• Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office
• Chippewa County Sheriff's Office
• West Central Drug Task Force
• Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
• Wisconsin Department of Justice State Crime Lab
• Eau Claire County District Attorney's Office.
• Officer Carren Corcoran, cadaver dog handler (Madison Police Department)

And finally, I want to thank the men and women of the Eau Claire Police Department. As I am sure you are aware this has been a difficult past two weeks, with our department being involved in several major investigations at the same time. I am very proud of the competence, professionalism and dedication of the members of this police department. They are exceptional public servants who care deeply about the citizens in this community and who work tirelessly to keep our community safe

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The search for a missing man in Eau Claire takes a new twist as a man is arrested for his murder.

Frederick Brian Harvey was last seen on August 13th and his family has said all along that his disappearance was uncharacteristic. On Friday, WQOW News 18 learned that a man is now in custody for murdering Harvey.

A bond hearing was held in Eau Claire County Court Friday for Larry Fernandez of Ladysmith. Fernandez is being held on a charge of first degree intentional homicide after the judge set bond at $1 million.

A person familiar with the investigation tells News 18 that police have a witness who says Fernandez strangled Harvey with a belt. That witness also indicated Fernandez was under the influence of Oxycontin at the time. We were also told that Harvey's body has not been found.

WQOW News 18 reached out to Harvey's family Friday and they declined to answer questions and requested privacy at this time. Fernandez will return to court on Tuesday.

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Press Release (Eau Claire Police Department) - On August 28, 2012, the Eau Claire Police Department received a report that Frederick Brian Harvey had not had contact with his family since August 7, 2012. This report was assigned to the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division for investigation as an active Missing Person case.

Since the original report, the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division received numerous leads that were actively investigated regarding this matter. Through this investigation, it was determined that the last confirmed public sighting of Mr. Harvey was at a local convenience store on August 13, 2012.

Subsequently, the Eau Claire Police Department's investigation revealed that this case involved the homicide of Mr. Harvey. A suspect in this case has been arrested for the death of Frederick Brian Harvey. The suspect has been identified as:

Larry Fernandez
DOB: 02/03/1967
400 W. 4th Street – N.
Ladysmith, WI 54848

This case remains under investigation and additional details cannot be released at this time. The Eau Claire Police Department is requesting anyone with information about this case please contact Detective Sergeant Mark Pieper at 715-839-6217.

 

 

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