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UW thefts suspect sex offender, released from jail days before campus crimes

tyler nathaniel mills
Picture courtesy of WKOW

MADISON (WKOW) -- A suspect in recent trespassing and thefts on the UW-Madison campus is a registered sex offender who was released from a Wisconsin jail days before the alleged campus crimes.

UW Police said Tyler Nathaniel Mills, 41, was arrested April 29 after officers received a campus tip Mills was "piggybacking" into secure buildings behind people with authorized access. Police said Mills is also a suspect in a number of potential thefts at the university.

Eau Claire County Court records show Mills faces a felony stalking charge and in a separate case, felony bomb threat charges.

A criminal complaint states Mills plotted to bomb the home or car of a probation agent and her husband, a correctional officer, or bomb the agent's office, in 2017. "Defendant has been searching the internet for information on how to make a bomb," the complaint says of information provided to law enforcement by one of Mills' fellow inmates in the Eau Claire County jail. The complaint states Mills' plot was to be carried out after his jail release.

A separate complaint says a woman told authorities in 2019 Mills was a former co-worker who showed up at her home uninvited long after their employment together, frightening her. The complaint states Mills had contacted the woman's mother to learn of the daughter's whereabouts. "She was also concerned for the safety of her two daughters," the complaint says, noting the woman was aware Mills was a registered sex offender.

Wisconsin's sex offender registry shows Mills committed sex crimes in both Wisconsin and another state, to include child enticement. Records say Mills' most recent sex crime conviction was in 2008. Mills served seven years in prison as a the result of sex crimes convictions.

In October, Mills posted $1,000 bail in connection with his bomb scare and stalking cases, but remained in the Eau Claire County Jail due to a hold placed on him by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. "He was held for violating terms of supervision by accessing the internet without permission and contacting minors without permission," says DOC Spokesperson John Beard. "He was served notice of (probation) revocation but was ultimately approved to participate in an alternative."

Jail Release and Move to Madison

Eau Claire County Sheriff's Captain Dave Riewestahl says on April 22, Mills was released from the jail by order of the DOC and placed in a half way house. His release came two weeks after Mills refused to appear from jail for court hearings in both of his pending, felony cases.

"He was able to secure residence in Dane County," Beard says of the jail release of Mills.

Beard says the release had been planned for months. "Madison Police Department was originally notified in January of Mr. Mills residence request," Beard says. "MPD was updated once his residence was confirmed in April."

Law enforcement agencies at times make community notifications of the coming arrival of sex offenders. There's no indication such a notification was issued in the case of Mills, who also still faced trial in the felony stalking and bomb scare cases.

During a previous supervised release, Mills wore an electronic monitoring bracelet. Beard offers no specifics on the supervision of Mills in what amounted to just a few days in Madison before his arrest.

"This is an open investigation." Beard says. "He is currently in custody on a DOC hold for violation of rules of supervision, including leaving residence without permission," he says.

UW Police officials continue to ask anyone who may have been victimized by Mills to contact authorities. A representative of the Dane County District Attorney's office says Mills will appear for a court hearing May 14 on charges related to campus crimes.

Ben Zitouni

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