WYOCENA (WKOW) -- Data from a heart monitor is helping investigators solidify their case against a man accused of killing his girlfriend last year.
Patrick Kraemer, 46, was arrested on Thursday, 17 months after Traci Rataczak was found dead in the couple's Wyocena home.
Columbia County court documents show authorities were called to the home on April 8, 2013. The 45-year-old woman was found hanging by an extension cord in the basement.
"You didn't have to be there too long before something just didn't feel right and everybody there had that feeling," Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards says about the night he and the department's investigators responded to the scene.
Kraemer told officials the last time he saw Rataczak was around 3 a.m. April 6 after the two got in a disagreement. Kraemer said she left the house and he continued watching YouTube videos and didn't think anything of it.
Kraemer said he was staying at the house the subsequent nights. Rataczak was found two days later by a friend who stopped by. Kraemer told authorities he could guarantee 100 percent that she wasn't in the basement when he was there.
"It was an open basement, stairway comes down about midway of the basement," says Richards. "I was there and there's absolutely no way you were to miss her and he admits himself of being in the basement several times doing laundry."
Officials say Rataczak was wearing a heart monitor at the time of her death because of an upcoming procedure. It keeps track of heart beats and rhythms. The rare glimpse into her heart condition leading up to her death was crucial in this case.
"This was able to tell us the exact time and date when her heart took its last beat and that's something that, unless it's a witnessed event, we try to get as close as we can," says Sheriff Richards. "It also leaves as pattern for the heartbeat and that's something that a lot of us don't have [during investigations]."
The monitor shows Rataczak's heart stopped at 2:58 a.m. on April 6, 2013 and the device was operating properly. The reading indicates Rataczak's heartbeat activity just before she died was consistent with a person who was at rest.
Phone records show Kraemer left 20 voice messages on Rataczak's phone within an hour after her death.
The criminal complaint states detectives learned through interviews with friends the couple had a volatile relationship that had been violent or abusive at times.
Kraemer was arrested by Wisconsin Department of Justice investigators in Madison on Thursday. He's expected to appear in court early next week.
Rataczak's son, Michael Griepentrog, said the loss of his mother is an empty space that can't be filled. He says he believes Kraemer is capable of killing his mother and that he believes Kraemer did it. Griepentrog also told 27 News that he'd like to see Kraemer admit to the crime, which would provide him some closure.
Sheriff Richards says as the investigation continues, he hopes anyone with information about the couple, no matter how small, will come forward. Call the Columbia County Sheriff's Office at (608) 742-4166.
WYOCENA (WKOW) -- Authorities have arrested a man after a 17-month investigation into the death of his girlfriend.
Traci Rataczak was found dead on April 8, 2013, hanging in the basement of her home. Columbia County officials say it appeared to be a staged crime scene and she was placed there after her death. Rataczak was wearing a heart monitor for an upcoming medical procedure so officials could determine the exact time of her death to be April 6, 2013 at 2:58 a.m.
Rataczak's boyfriend Patrick Kraemer was arrested Thursday. Kraemer shared the house with Rataczak and had told officials at the time of her death she committed suicide. Authorities say Kraemer never reported Rataczak missing and was still in the house until a friend discovered her body.
Kraemer is expected to appear in court next week for a bond hearing. Authorities are expected to release more information at that time.