After years of investigative work, a break has come in a Wisconsin cold case where two men were killed in a hit-and-run.
It was announced Thursday by Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak that 32-year-old Andrew Endres of Randondolph, Minnesota was arrested earlier in the week following a tip.
"Our community and these family members can now start to heal," Sheriff Waak told reporters during a press conference Thursday. "We now know the answers to the questions we had. I want to thank the victims' family members for never losing hope, for believing in the process to get us here today."
The incident occurred around 6:30 p.m. on January 11, 2014, when Benjamin Juarez and Richard Cobenais were struck and killed by a pickup truck on County Road E near Big Round Lake, southwest of the town of Luck, Wisconsin. The driver and passenger of the pickup truck were reported to have gotten out of the truck following the collision but fled shortly thereafter.
According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement received a tip on September 28, 2020, six years after the hit-and-run, from a man (referred to as MJL) who said his estranged wife (referred to as KKL) drunkenly confessed that Endres was the driver who killed Juarez and Cobenais. MJL stated that his estranged wife was a childhood friend of Endres.
Earlier this year, investigators brought new public attention to the fatal hit-and-run through a video that featured interviews and 911 calls from that night. The suspect had reportedly seen coverage of the case on a Twin Cities TV news station and was having a hard time. KKL was reportedly helping him through it.
An investigation found that Endres owned a late 1990s Ford F-150, that matched the description of the suspect vehicle in 2014, and his parents owned a cabin around 3 miles from where the incident occurred. A further look into phone records found a number tied to Endres was recorded by a cell phone tower in the area of the crash on January 11, 2014.
On October 14th, 2020, an investigator met with Endres to discuss the incident. The suspect confirmed he had owned a Ford F-150 and that his parents owned a cabin in Polk County. However, he said he did not know anything about the case. Endres even called the tip a fabrication since his friend was going through a divorce, stating "I hate to tell you, I think you're going on a wild good chase."
Endres said that he wasn't in the area on the day of the crash since he worked Saturdays, and his truck did not match the suspect vehicle's description. He reported that the suspect vehicle was reported to have lights on top, his F-150 did not.
On Oct. 18, 2020, authorities met with an individual who was reported to have been the passenger on the night of the hit-and-run. The witness stated that he and his then-girlfriend went to stay at the cabin in Luck with Endres and a group of friends, including KKL. The group had spent the evening drinking and playing cards when the witness and Endres decided to go steal a sign around 6:00 p.m. It was reported that Endres was the driver and the witness was a front-seat passenger.
The witness recounted driving over a hill when he spotted the victims in the middle of the roadway before Endres reportedly struck them. Both Endres and the witness reportedly got out of the vehicle to check on the victims before Endres said they had to leave and fled the scene. When they returned to the cabin, Endres attempted to clean the truck off with bleach.
Endres is currently being held in a Dakota County Jail in Minnesota where he is awaiting extradition to Polk County. He has been charged with two counts of Felony Hit & Run - Resulting in Death.
It is unclear if any other charges will be brought against other individuals in the case at this time.