UPDATE: Vigil honors triple-homicide victims - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Vigil honors triple-homicide victims, helps community heal


TOWN OF WIOTA (WKOW) -- A community comes together to heal after a tragedy takes the lives of three of their own.

Wiota Lutheran Church was full Wednesday night for a special service in honor of the victims of the weekend homicide in the town of Wiota.

A family member found the bodies of Gary Thoreson, 70, his wife Chloe, 66, and Gary's brother Dean Thoreson, 76, Sunday morning inside Gary and Chloe's home on Phillipine Road. Later that afternoon, authorities arrested Jaren Kuester, 31, of Waukesha, for their murders.

The church's pastor Rev. Luke Smetters told the congregation the prayer vigil was to help bring peace to a heart-broken community afflicted with violence and tragedy.

"The peace and quiet of this community has been ripped apart once again," Smetters said. "We're still trying to make sense of things that have happened in Argyle, in Boston and in our synod, and now more tragedy; more despair, more pain and sadness and human brokenness."

There were moments of silence, singing, prayer and candles were lit.

The Thoreson family did not attend the service, but Smetters said the family is thankful for support among the community.

"They know that you're here praying for them and they very much appreciate that. They've found immense comfort from your prayers the past few days and want you to know that they're thinking of and praying for you too," Smetters said.

Smetters was joined by several pastors from Southern Wisconsin to help the community heal and comfort one another.


WIOTA (WKOW) – Wiota Lutheran Church will hold a prayer vigil Wednesday night in honor of the three victims murdered in Lafayette County.

Seventy-year-old Gary Thoreson, his wife Chloe, 66, and his brother Dean Thoreson, 76,  were found murdered on Sunday morning at Gary and Dean's home in the town of Wiota.

A spokesman for the Thoreson family says the public is invited to the family's church for the prayer vigil at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  The Wiota Lutheran Church is located on Highway 78.

Reverend Luke Smetters of the Wiota Lutheran Church says, "The family wants to express their thanks for all of the support they've received from the Wiota community.  While it is hard for the family to find words to express everything that has gone through their minds, they have stated that this situation is unbelievable and surreal."

Reverend Smetters says the victims were active members of the congregation.

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