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2011 in Review: October

Police opened their files and told all in a revealing look at the consequences of heroin addiction and dealing.

As 2011 comes to a close, Wauwatosa Patch looks back at the top stories of the year, month by month. Here’s a recap of the news that made headlines in October.

Homicide charges filed in heroin death

When 19-year-old Alexandra Hopping was found dead of a heroin overdose on April 18 in her mother's Wauwatosa home, Tosa police went on a mission. On Oct. 11, after a six-month investigation, Daniel Lee Birtic of Waukesha and Edwin Esteves of Milwaukee were for allegedly . They are currently being held and awaiting trial.

To fully illustrate the twisting paths of the heroin subculture and the demons of addiction, Wauwatosa police offered unprecedented access to 125 pages of detailed police reports and interviews with the detectives who conducted the investigation, as well as gaining the cooperation of Hopping's family in . The result was a three-part series of stories on the case in Wauwatosa Patch.

Weapons ban in city buildings approved

On the recommendation of the city administration, the Wauwatosa Common Council approved .

For those following closely, the controversy was not just about being for or against gun rights; it was that because of the way the state's new concealed carry law was written, anyone banning weapons from their premises must assume liability for any injuries that might result from the use a weapon, while those allowing concealed weapons do not. It was a risk the city was willing to take; the measure passed 12-4, over the objections of Police Chief Barry Weber, among others.

Alterra buys long-vacant corner lot for cafe

Milwaukee coffee roaster Alterra announced it would (not counting its Mayfair kiosk) at the corner of North 68th and West Wells streets. Despite some concerns that Alterra would compete too strongly with tiny La Tarte, right across the street, it was mostly welcome news to the city.

The property, occupied by a former medical office building, had sat idle for a decade, and attempts to redevelop it with condos had drawn ire from neighbors and delay from cautious Common Council members before the housing economy sank it. The was greeted with relief.

Election season opens early with first filing

Wauwatosa got its when, on Oct. 3, political newcomer John Pokrandt announced he would run. With a background in marketing and promising to be a cheerleader for economic development, he vowed he was ready to take on Mayor Jill Didier. (He wouldn't get the chance. Two months later she would announce she was stepping down to take a job with Milwaukee County.)

Bank robber's escape plan was flawed

A combination of bad luck and bad planning led to the arrest of a 21-year-old Tosa native who , 6810 W. State St. Despite leaving behind his demand note and then shedding his outer clothing where it would be found almost instantly, he enjoyed initial success. He had asked for and received from a teller just as much money as he needed for rent, then gotten out of the bank and out of sight. But one part of his plan took far too much time. He was caught within a block and a half of the bank while standing on a side street – waiting for the taxi he had called to pick him up.

Exit-level employees

They are the kind of police reports that make you roll your eyes in disbelief. On the same day, . One was not an unusual case, just sad; a 17-year-old on his fifth day at tried to steal two music CDs for his younger brother and was caught.

The other was downright odd in its foolishness; a young man whose age was not even known was caught stealing a skateboard from Zumiez in by concealing it under the apron he was wearing. He ran and escaped, but the apron gave him away. He was on his first break during his first day of work at pizza shop in the food court. Reached by his manager at home, he admitted having done "something stupid." He was not, however, stupid enough to show up again for work.

Next time try wearing gloves

Two men were charged with burglary after their DNA was found at the scene of a break-in. They had at 10425 W. North Ave. and then into the building manager's office, where they found a heavy safe and dragged it off into a vacant room. There, they used a sledgehammer to bash the door off it, stealing cash and a handgun. Apparently to keep his fingerprints off the safe, one of the burglars had borrowed the building manager's spare shirt from his office. It was found draped on top of the safe – spotted with the suspect's blood.

Also of note...

  • A Wauwatosa artist won first prize in an international exhibition as the Philadelphia Water Color Society for her egg tempera painting.
  • hit three homes, a business, a construction site, a non-profit religious center and a county golf course clubhouse. 
  • The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church with a visit from the man who supervised its construction, former Wright apprentice John Ottenheimer – one of the few people left who worked professionally with the great architect from Wisconsin.

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