Pete and Nancy Odon, celebrating their first Christmas in their new, one-story condo in December 2019.

Pete Odon, promoting a CurePSP fundraiser in 2018. Before being diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy in 2017, Pete worked for 40 years as a television news producer.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Rare Brain Disorder Turns Chicago Couple’s World Upside Down


December 2021

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story was written jointly, by Pete Odon and his wife Nancy. Married 39 years, these Chicago-area parents of three grown children were thrust into a perplexing medical nightmare about six years ago, when Pete began inexplicably struggling with walking, balance, and uncontrollable body movements. His condition was finally diagnosed in 2017 as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a rare, incurable brain disorder. 67-year-old Pete continues to fight it, but was nonetheless forced to begin hospice care this past month. The Odons are sharing their journey with The Reporters Inc. in hopes of bringing more, and much-needed attention to this relentless disease.
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Joan Treppa hugs Mike Hirn, after his release from prison in 2018. Hirn and five other men convicted of killing a co-worker in 1992 are the focus of Treppa’s book.

Reclaiming Lives, Round Two

Justice Advocate Brings New Hope to Wisconsin Men Convicted of Murder


December 2021

Editor’s Note: Joan Treppa is a mild-mannered, married, suburban Minnesota mother—someone who, at first glance, you wouldn’t mistake for a tenacious investigative reporter. Yet when Treppa learned about “an egregious miscarriage of justice” a few years ago, the case so enthralled her that she just had to get involved.

Joan’s tireless efforts to help free and exonerate six men she firmly believes have been wrongfully convicted prompted a new legal effort to help them. Joan detailed her quest to reveal the truth in her 2017 book: Reclaiming Lives: Pursuing Justice for Six Innocent Men—and she’s now revised and updated it in a just-released second edition.

The Reporters Inc. sat down with Joan for this exclusive Q&A.

 

THE REPORTERS INC.: What exactly does Reclaiming Lives: Pursuing Justice for Six Innocent Men investigate?

JOAN TREPPA: I wrote the book to bring to light a terrible injustice that occurred in 1992—one that to this day has yet to be fully corrected. My intent is also to inform readers about wrongful convictions, how they can and do occur, and to illustrate how easily any one of us can get caught up in a similar situation. However, this story is about so much more.

In November 1992, the mysterious death of a paper mill worker (Tom Monfils) in Green Bay, Wisconsin led to the wrongful convictions of six of his co-workers. There are detectives, prosecutors, lawyers and judges who—to this day—argue otherwise, but I firmly believe in the innocence of all six men.

Prior to his death, Monfils made a 911 call to report a theft by a fellow mill worker, Keith Kutska. As a result, Kutska was suspended from work and learned about the 911 call during a disciplinary hearing; he wasn’t told, however, who had made it. Afterwards, Kutska set out to discover the caller’s identity.

A Green Bay Police Department officer gave Kutska a copy of the recording despite repeated requests from Monfils asking that his identity remain private. Kutska then confronted Monfils at work with the tape the following week. Soon after, Monfils disappeared from his work station and was found the next day at the bottom of a paper pulp vat inside the mill, with a rope and weight tied around his neck.

In 1995, six of Monfils’ paper mill co-workers (Kutska, Mike Piaskowski, Mike Johnson, Mike Hirn, Dale Basten and Rey Moore), were convicted of murder, each accused of taking part in the killing of Monfils. The six were tried jointly, during a 28-day trial. Each was sentenced to life in prison. (more…)

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