A two week trial is scheduled to begin in August for the 59-year-old suspect in the homicide of an elderly man. Lee Franck is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend’s father, Lyle Leith, 77.
Franck is charged with first degree intentional homicide.
Leith’s body was discovered the morning of Feb. 20, 2018, in his garage on Kickbusch street in Wausau. Investigators say Leith’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head; likely caused by an object shaped like a tire iron or crowbar.
Court documents indicate police found a metal pipe, fitting that description, burned in a fire pit on Franck’s property.
The metal pipe also matched an imprint found on Leith’s property, made in the snow.
Police at the scene said they noticed a smell of chlorine or bleach coming from Leith’s body. They also noticed staining in his clothes, consistent with it being bleached.
Police say Franck’s vehicle was equipped with a dash camera. That video showed the night Leith was murdered, Franck drove to Walmart in Iron Mountain, Mich. Store surveillance and a receipt in Franck’s wallet showed he purchased two bottles of bleach.
The Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory also processed Franck’s vehicle for evidence and got a positive result for blood on the driver’s door handle. That blood revealed a mix of DNA from Leith and Franck.
Franck was arrested Feb. 21, 2018, in Florence County and charged with disorderly conduct, accused of getting into a fight with Leith days before his death.
Court documents state Franck had been dating Leith’s daughter and became upset with Leith when he tired to intervene during an argument.
Leith’s daughter told police on Feb. 17 she and Franck had a disagreement about the care of one of Leith’s family members. The woman said her father attempted to calm the situation and that’s when Franck told him to leave. The woman said in defense of her father she told Franck he needed to leave.
Court documents say the daughter told police she last saw her father alive Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m., when he left her home. She told officers that her father always came to her house at 8 a.m. and stayed until 7:30 p.m. to help care for a sick relative. Leith’s daughter first became concerned about her father’s safety after he didn’t show up at her home the morning of Feb. 20. That’s when she went to her father’s home and found him deceased.
Police reported that when they went to Franck’s home to take him into custody, he resisted arrest. Court documents say it took hours of negotiations, the use of an armored Bearcat vehicle, gas and non-lethal rounds of ammunition before Franck eventually walked out of his home. Officers at the scene say he continued to resist arrest even as officers handcuffed him.
Franck is in custody on a $750,000 cash bond.