NEWSFILE: Eric Koula charged with parents murder - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

NEWSFILE: Eric Koula charged with parents murder


La Crosse, WI (WXOW) - It was one of the most shocking crimes in recent memory in La Crosse county.  On May 24th the bodies of Dennis Koula and his wife Merna were found in their home in Barre Mills.

They'd been shot to death.

Thursday, ten weeks later, the Sheriffs Department announced the arrest of the Koula's 40 year old son Eric for the murders.

The evidence suggests Eric killed his parents because he was having financial problems and wanted access to the funds controlled by his parents.

Eric Koula is charged with two counts of first degree murder and forgery.

La Crosse County Sheriff Steve Helgeson says they believe Eric killed his parents between 5:30 and 6:00 pm on Friday, May 21st.

It was Eric who reported discovering the bodies three days later.

Merna was shot in the head with a .22 caliber rifle as she sat at her computer.

Authorities then say Eric waited for his father Dennis to arrive home from work and then shot him as he walked through the door.

Sheriff Steve Helgeson said, "Today, we are satisfied that we made an arrest in the case, but there's no cause for celebration. Dennis and Merna had their lives taken from them by their own son and the motive was financial gain."

According to investigators Eric shot his parents with his dad's .22 caliber and left it in an upstairs closet at the scene of the crime.


Police believe the motive was money.

According to the criminal complaint Eric Koula and his wife Christine were heavily in debt.

Police say Eric tried to blame someone else for the crime, claiming to have received a letter in the mail suggesting the murders were committed to get back at Eric.

Judge Todd Bjerke set Eric's cash bond at 1-million dollars Friday.

He is expected to appear in court next week for a mental competency hearing.

The criminal complaint shows Eric Koula had no regular source of income.  He told officers he worked as a day trader buying and selling stocks over the short term by trying to anticipate trends.

Day trading is associated with the potential for both major profits and major losses.

According to the Wisconsin Circuit Court records, Eric Koula has a history of brushes with the law.

Including convictions for driving under the influence, driving without a license and obstructing an officer.

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