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Woman's Body Found In Freezer

A 15-hour standoff with a man suspected of shooting his neighbor turned into a homicide investigation after authorities found a body believed to be the man's mother stashed in his freezer.

Philip Schuth, 52, surrendered to authorities on Saturday morning after a standoff that lasted through the night. At some point during the standoff, Schuth told authorities his mother's body was in his freezer.

Authorities inspected a basement freezer, chipped away ice and eventually discovered what was believed to be Schuth's mother.

Police suspect that Schuth may have been collecting his mother's Social Security benefits during that time, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports.

The body appears to have been in the freezer for one or two years, or longer, La Crosse County District Attorney Scott Horne told the La Crosse Tribune.

He said officials "are examining different financial motives, to determine whether there may have been any benefit to concealing the body."

Depending on the autopsy, Schuth could face charges of concealing a corpse.

Officials believe Schuth has not had a job for 20 years, and he does not have any other local family members.

Police picked through the ice just enough to confirm a body was inside before leaving the scene for the Wisconsin State Crime Lab from Madison to investigate further, said La Crosse County Sheriff Mike Weissenberger. It may be a week before the identity of the body is confirmed, he said.

The incident began on Friday afternoon when an 8-year-old boy told his parents that Schuth had struck him in the head and taken his bicycle while riding near the man's home.

The parents and boy went to the home and confronted Schuth about 4 p.m., demanding to know if he had hit their child. Schuth then pulled out a small-caliber handgun and opened fire, said Campbell Police Chief Ron Latva.

The father, identified as Randy Russell Jr., 32, was struck twice in the right shoulder and grazed on the cheek by another bullet. His wife and child were not injured. Russell was treated at a local hospital and released Friday evening.

When authorities arrived, Schuth took refuge in his two-story home. Law enforcement officials from several local agencies surrounded the home through the night.

Negotiators spent 50 minutes of each hour on the phone with Schuth before the situation ended peacefully, Weissenberger said. During the standoff, authorities stopped traffic in some parts of the neighborhood and evacuated some nearby homes.

Schuth has been charged with three counts of attempted homicide, reckless endangerment, concealing a corpse and theft by fraud, the Star Tribune reports.

At a nearby bar, several patrons told The La Crosse Tribune they knew Philip Schuth as a gentle man and often saw him walking around in large rubber boots.

Neighbor Patty Crawford told the Star Tribune she said she had never seen a woman enter or leave the house in the 12 years that she and her husband have lived in Campbell Township.

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