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Sheriffs Dept. sticking with Nixle alerts
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MONROE - Public alerts from the Green County Sheriff's Department about a Monroe man who went missing Monday afternoon haven't yielded many tips on his whereabouts, according to Sheriff Jeff Skatrud.

That doesn't mean the Nixle alert system, which local authorities started using in December, isn't useful as an informational tool, he added.

"I certainly get no indication it's hurting," Skatrud said. "The eyes and ears of the community would be more important than him knowing we're after him."

Andy J. Markham, 37, left abruptly on foot from a meeting with Green County Human Services staff at their office in the Pleasant View complex off Wisconsin 81 at about 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 24.

Three alerts went out Monday via text and email updating the public on the search for Markham. As of Tuesday evening, June 25, he was still at large.

Markham is not believed to be dangerous and he isn't wanted on criminal charges, but authorities are worried about his mental health and believe it is necessary to evaluate him further.

"We really just need to find him to make sure he's OK," Skatrud said.

The best information on Markham's location has come from his friends and acquaintances, not anonymous tips, Skatrud said.

"We just haven't caught up with him yet. Maybe we're an hour or two behind," he said.

The situation is distressingly familiar - the last missing person reported via a Green County Nixle alert was Jaren Kuester, in late April.

The 31-year-old Waukesha man is charged with murdering three Wiota Township residents after he abandoned his SUV in western Green County and was reported missing.

As with Markham, there were concerns about Kuester's mental health when he went missing.

"My crystal ball didn't tell me he was a danger," Skatrud said of Kuester.

If there are lessons to learn from the Kuester tragedy, it is to report suspicious behavior sooner rather than later.

A resident saw Kuester's vehicle on a Friday but didn't report it until the next afternoon. A Nixle alert that Kuester was missing went out about nine hours after that, but yielded no tips. Kuester was arrested the next day after he arrived dazed and in a stolen pickup truck at his parents' home in Waukesha, according to court documents.

If Skatrud had to do all over again, he said he would've sent out the Nixle alert about Kuester earlier.

"That case scared a lot of people, including us. What's the safer thing to do? Notify. It's safer for us to do that than to not do that," he said.

The outcome of emergency situations are difficult to predict, he added. Deputies often deal with people suffering from a crisis or mental illness - but those people "didn't injure anybody or commit homicide."

Skatrud is encouraging his dispatchers to send out alerts whenever they think it's appropriate. This would include alerts about missing people, traffic issues and burglary suspects at large.

"You go with all the information you have," he said.