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Kathleen Dressler stands by husband
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Kathleen Dressler stands by husband

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Says she still loves him, knew about pornography collection

photo by Mark T. Osler

cutline:Kathleen Dressler, in court Monday, looks at copies of photosof mutilated bodies allegedly owned by her husband. She is shwon the photos by District Attorney Lennie Weber.

by gary metro

Kathleen Dressler is married to a man accused of a sexually-motivated dismemberment murder, and she still loves her husband.

"Sure do," she said Monday.

Kathleen Dressler also said she knew her husband, Joachim Dressler, kept videotapes of homosexual relations, pictures of

mutilated bodies and was interested in death investigations and autopsy procedures.

Those interests, according to Racine County District Attorney Lennie Weber, motivated Dressler to kill James M. Madden, 24, of Whitefish Bay.

The murder trial of Dressler, 43, formerly of 11739 5 Mile Road in Raymond, moved into its second week Monday before Racine County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Ptacek.

Kathleen Dressler was called as a prosecution witness.

She immediately admitted to knowing about her husband's collection of pornography, pictures of bodies and interest in autopsies, and the briefcase that held the collection.

"We had it in our bedroom, and once we had our nephew move in with us I had Joe hide it," Kathleen Dressler testified.

"There were books, pictures and pamphlets in there," she said. "There were slides and negatives in there, but I can't even recall looking to see what the negatives were."

The negatives, according to Weber, were from a textbook on death investigations and refer to the types of dismemberment and organ removal inflicted on Madden.

Videotapes depicting actual killings were kept in the den of their home, according to Kathleen Dressler. That also was where videotapes about homosexuality were stored, she said.

"Then we moved them into our bedroom," Kathleen Dressler testified.

Deputies investigating the June 27, 1990, death of Madden initially focused on the yellow plastic garbage bags used to wrap the victim's body parts. The bags were found in a Norway farm field June 29, 1990.

Madden disappeared while collecting donations in Raymond for Citizens for a Better Environment, a grassroots organizations based in Milwaukee.

Kathleen Dressler testified that she told sheriff's deputies July 5, 1990, that yellow plastic garbage bags had been in their home. But the bags were gone when deputies visited, she said, and her husband explained he had used them all.

She said Dressler had used one of the plastic bags to fashion a tail for a kite used by one of their two children, Joann, 8, and Ricky, 6.

Although Kathleen Dressler testified as a prosecution witness, most of her testimony painted a favorable portrait of Dressler.

When courtroom proceedings ended for the day, the pair smiled, hugged warmly and kissed on the lips.

Kathleen Dressler said she met her future husband in 1976. She said they met through mutual friends and went to a tavern and restaurant on their first date, after she attended a professional wrestling match in Milwaukee.

Kathleen Dressler said she began living with the defendant in May 1976 at Dressler's West Allis duplex. They married later in the year, she said.

Dressler, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, worked as an elevator repairman throughout their marriage, according to Kathleen Dressler. She said they built their Raymond home in 1979.

Alcoholism caused Dressler to suffer serious medical problems twice during their marriage, according to Kathleen Dressler.

"He was drinking quite heavily for quite a while. There were two times he was taken to the hospital - once with bacterial pneumonia and once with seizures," she said.

In June and July 1990, when Kathleen Dressler was hospitalized for serious intestinal problems, she said her husband visited her daily, including the day Madden disappeared.

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