2013 “Walk” in Green Bay, WI (I am holding the sign that reads: 18 Years of Injustice)
Subject: One Woman’s Story
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 16:15:41 -0500
One Woman’s Story—Can You Help as She Has?
by Denis Gullickson
Thanks to the response of a number of you to last week’s information release, we wanted to bring you the story of Joan Treppa who was referenced in a couple of places in that release. Joan is an example to all of us of the kind of power one impassioned person can make on behalf of a cause—in this case, the cause of justice and freedom for five innocent men who remain incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons.
Joan became involved in the effort to promote our book, The Monfils Conspiracy: The Conviction of Six Innocent Men, through her sister, Clare. Originally from the “U.P. in Michigan,” but now living in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota Joan attended some of our book events. Author John Gaie was also instrumental in providing Joan with as much information as she desired. And it was very much a case of the more she learned, the more she became incensed about this injustice.
Not content to simply fume over the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of Dale Basten, Mike Hirn, Mike Johnson, Keith Kutska, and Rey Moore, Joan, literally, took to the streets. Early on, she wrote reviews of the book and posted them on internet websites. She pushed the book at local book stores, sold books to friends and acquaintances, and spoke about the case to anyone who would listen. She scheduled the authors for a talk at her church this fall. She also called members of the local media, sent books to them, and encouraged them to interview the authors and Mike Piaskowski. Along those same lines, she put books in the hands of Twin Cities attorneys, filmmakers, and so on.
On the heels of the announcement that Wisconsin’s Early Release Commission had delayed Mike Hirn’s possible release for another year, Joan—along with Toby Resch, another diligent supporter of our efforts—called Ben Merens of Wisconsin Public Radio. Toby did a wonderful job of introducing the subject for listeners and Joan followed up with a plea on behalf of these men.
Again, you can listen to their calls by going to wpr.org and searching for an archive of Ben Meren’s programs. Then, find the 4 p.m. program for Friday, April 16. Toby and Joan’s comments can be found at the 8:20 and 10:30 marks, respectively.
But Joan wasn’t done there! Through talking about the case to anyone with an ear, Joan established a connection with a retired crime scene reconstruction expert. She made sure he had a book and she encouraged him to read it. He did—three times! And what he came away with was a profound disgust for the investigation conducted by the Green Bay Police Department and a deep bewilderment for how the case could have proceeded to trial and resulted in convictions.
Then, Joan organized a weekend of intensive informational and strategy sessions at her home between the authors, Mike Piaskowski, and the crime scene expert. Joan and husband, Mike, not only served as gracious hosts to the four men, but Joan played a key role in the sessions themselves.
As author Denis Gullickson said, “If we had one person like Joan in five or six cities—say Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, Oshkosh, Chicago, and others—we would be well on our way to getting this story to a wider audience across the Midwest and, eventually, the entire nation.”
As we told you last week, Joan’s efforts have caused significant developments to occur. She has set up three events for this fall, including a book presentation and signing at the Rosedale Mall on August 21. What will result for these five men because of her efforts remains to be seen. But every one of her steps has been a step in the right direction.
With great appreciation, we wanted to tell you about her efforts. We also know that Joan is not alone. Many of you have pushed books, talked about this story to anyone and everyone, contacted the media and the authorities, and written letters. Your efforts are making a difference. Thank you.
Finally, here’s a prayerful plea to everyone to keep this story on the front burner and do whatever you can to keep the wheels of justice turning in favor of these men. A simple, but helpful step is to post favorable reviews of our book on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. As we said last week, our immediate sights are now set firmly on Wisconsin Public Radio and on Madison, but our work hardly ends there.
This thoughtful piece still brings tears. When it was written the ending was undetermined. It still is in 2014. But I think of what has come to pass during that time. The annual Walk for Truth and Justice is in its fourth year. Collective support and donations on behalf of these five men have trickled in. And finally, the inception of legal assistance by a major Minneapolis law firm along with both WI and MN Innocence Projects, all collaborating towards a similar goal. Their final chapter is approaching. The process is slow but within reach. When that day comes for these five men, it will be a day like no other!
I recently had an inspiring conversation with my son, Jared. He said, “Mom, it is no longer acceptable for me to just sit back and watch others do great things to change the world. I must be a participant and one who is responsible for enacting that change. I no longer want people to tell me how much they admire what I’m doing but what THEY are doing to enact change”.
I cannot put into words the feelings a parent gets from hearing such compassion and commitment from one’s own child and knowing they mean it. I agree with him and I’m certain that together, we will somehow enact positive change in this world.