Two decades after high-profile murder trial, questions remain in the prosecution of Ken Hudson

The Circus

Kenneth Hudson sitting in court
Kenneth Hudson, shown at a motion hearing Feb. 27, 2001 in Outagamie County Circuit Court, was on trial on charges that he fatally stabbed Shanna Van Dyn Hoven, 19, Kaukauna, in June 2000. Hudson was convicted, but in several appeals has raised numerous questions about the actions of the police and District Attorney Vince Biskupic. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Episode 5 Transcript

Editor’s note: Some images in this story may be disturbing to viewers.

In the summer of 2000, 19-year-old Shanna Van Dyn Hoven had just finished her first year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She was back home in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. And one Sunday afternoon, she went for a jog on a route she often followed. Van Dyn Hoven reached the last leg, a stretch of hill between woods and a quarry.

That’s when a neighbor, David Carnot, the son of a recently retired police officer, heard her screaming. He stopped his yard work and ran through the copse of trees between his house and the road. He later told his story to local news reporters.[[{“fid”:”1704461″,”view_mode”:”embed_landscape”,”fields”:{“format”:”embed_landscape”,”alignment”:”right”,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3EShanna%20Van%20Dyn%20Hoven%2C%2019%2C%20was%20stabbed%20to%20death%20on%20June%2025%2C%202000%2C%20in%20Kaukauna%2C%20Wis.%20Van%20Dyn%20Hoven%20had%20returned%20home%20for%20the%20summer%20after%20finishing%20her%20first%20year%20at%20University%20of%20Wisconsin-Madison.%20Ken%20Hudson%20is%20serving%20a%20life%20term%20for%20the%20murder.%20Hudson%20has%20maintained%20his%20innocence.%20%3Cem%3EOutagamie%20County%20Circuit%20Court%20file%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Shanna Van Dyn Hoven”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Open and Shut episode 5″},”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“1”:{“format”:”embed_landscape”,”alignment”:”right”,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3EShanna%20Van%20Dyn%20Hoven%2C%2019%2C%20was%20stabbed%20to%20death%20on%20June%2025%2C%202000%2C%20in%20Kaukauna%2C%20Wis.%20Van%20Dyn%20Hoven%20had%20returned%20home%20for%20the%20summer%20after%20finishing%20her%20first%20year%20at%20University%20of%20Wisconsin-Madison.%20Ken%20Hudson%20is%20serving%20a%20life%20term%20for%20the%20murder.%20Hudson%20has%20maintained%20his%20innocence.%20%3Cem%3EOutagamie%20County%20Circuit%20Court%20file%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Shanna Van Dyn Hoven”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Open and Shut episode 5″}},”link_text”:false,”attributes”:{“alt”:”Shanna Van Dyn Hoven”,”title”:”Open and Shut episode 5″,”class”:”media-element file-embed-landscape media-wysiwyg-align-right”,”data-delta”:”1″}}]]

“You could hear the fear in her voice, that she feared dying,” Carnot said. “You could tell that something was drastically bad. … I started hollering, ‘Somebody dial 9-1-1.’ But nobody was here — nobody heard me.”

Carnot says he found Van Dyn Hoven lying on the ground, bleeding. Above her stood a man who seemed to have gotten out of a pickup truck.

“The minute I said something, he just looks at me, and then (got) into the truck and drive right for me.”

Carnot says he ran towards a fence at the quarry’s entrance. As he started to climb over it, the truck rammed the fence and struck him in the leg. The driver then fled the scene. A fishing boat on a trailer bounced behind the truck.

Soon after, police were flying down the road in another part of Kaukauna in hot pursuit of that Chevy pickup. Police had seen it driving erratically through the city on three tires. When the truck finally went into the ditch, officers approached it, guns drawn.

The driver, shirtless, was wearing jean shorts and sandals. Police said he appeared to have dried blood on his arms, chest, stomach, legs and feet.

On his upper arm, he had a tattoo that read “KEN.” Police identified him as Ken Hudson.

Investigators say they found a bloody knife on the driver’s side floor and Van Dyn Hoven’s blood on the passenger seat. And the case against Ken Hudson seemed open and shut.

But a Wisconsin Watch and WPR investigation found a litany of holes in this apparently rock-solid case that suggest the prosecution by Outagamie County District Attorney Vince Biskupic was anything but open and shut.

Certified letters asking detailed questions about the Hudson case, emails and phone calls to Biskupic and his attorney were not returned.

Girlfriend targeted

One curious aspect of the case involves Biskupic’s prosecution of Hudson’s then-girlfriend Danita Scharenbroch, who has since married and uses the last name of Metko.

At the time of the murder, Metko and Hudson had been dating for about a year. They lived together with her two boys at a mobile home park in a village near Kaukauna. The morning of the murder, they’d all been up north together, camping and fishing.

Metko received the news of Hudson’s arrest with disbelief, shock.

“I didn’t think Ken was capable of that. I mean, he was a bumbling, stumbling fool half the time,” Metko says. “I always said he was an accident waiting to happen, but not a murderer.”[[{“fid”:”1706241″,”view_mode”:”embed_portrait”,”fields”:{“format”:”embed_portrait”,”alignment”:”right”,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3EDanita%20(Scharenbroch)%20Metko%20financed%20the%20latest%20DNA%20testing%20and%20appeal%20for%20Ken%20Hudson%2C%20her%20former%20boyfriend.%20She%20was%20photographed%20in%20her%20home%20in%202016%20in%20Borth%2C%20Wis.%20%3Cem%3EDee%20J.%20Hall%2FWisconsin%20Watch%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Danita (Scharenbroch) Metko sits at her kitchen table”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Open and Shut episode 5″},”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“9”:{“format”:”embed_portrait”,”alignment”:”right”,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3EDanita%20(Scharenbroch)%20Metko%20financed%20the%20latest%20DNA%20testing%20and%20appeal%20for%20Ken%20Hudson%2C%20her%20former%20boyfriend.%20She%20was%20photographed%20in%20her%20home%20in%202016%20in%20Borth%2C%20Wis.%20%3Cem%3EDee%20J.%20Hall%2FWisconsin%20Watch%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Danita (Scharenbroch) Metko sits at her kitchen table”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Open and Shut episode 5″}},”link_text”:false,”attributes”:{“alt”:”Danita (Scharenbroch) Metko sits at her kitchen table”,”title”:”Open and Shut episode 5″,”class”:”media-element file-embed-portrait media-wysiwyg-align-right”,”data-delta”:”9″}}]]