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Thread: WI - Unknown victim of Joe Clark, Baraboo

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    WI - Unknown victim of Joe Clark, Baraboo

    I just spent a horrific hour watching Escaped on the ID network. They highlighted this story which I have heard and read about before-but before my leg was shattered. The case was of 13 year old HERO Thad Phillips withstanding 42 hours of torture at the hands of 17 year old Joe Clark. The show flashed pictures of Thad's legs prior to surgery after he was rescued. I have an incredibly strong stomach but I had to put my head between my knees to keep from passing out. The boy's knee caps were behind his legs. Completely.

    http://investigation.discovery.com/t...d/escaped.html

    Joe Clark received 100 years for what he did to Thad. Joe then received Life in Prison for murdering Chris Steiner one year prior to his kidnapping of Thad.

    Is anyone interested in trying to figure out who the third victim of Joe's might have been? Beyond this, does anyone know how Thad is really doing? I would love to know if there has been lifelong support offered to this very very special man.

    Here are some links:
    http://bbs.historytravel.com/tv/show...pdf/CCch01.pdf
    http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/c...ensics/11.html
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    I am wondering if it was a child/brother/sister in his family. I mean what is Joe's history? He did not spring from the earth with a desire to break bones and then throw someone away....I bet there is an infant somewhere in his world with a few or more twisting/spiral fractures.
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    Hey, I don't know if anyone reads this thread anymore but I wanted to know if Joe Clark is still in jail? I read the above article and it mentioned that there were 2 other boys who watched Joe drown his first victim. What happened to those boys? Are they still in Baraboo? There is a case of an Illinois boy being abducted and his car ended up in a Baraboo , near a river. Any ideas?

    http://*************.net/index.php?topic=2275.0

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    Thanks, Cherish-I am trying to figure out why Lee looks so familiar...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherish View Post
    I'm confused. What does this have to do with Joe Clark's crimes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherish View Post
    Hey, I don't know if anyone reads this thread anymore but I wanted to know if Joe Clark is still in jail? I read the above article and it mentioned that there were 2 other boys who watched Joe drown his first victim. What happened to those boys? Are they still in Baraboo? There is a case of an Illinois boy being abducted and his car ended up in a Baraboo , near a river. Any ideas?

    http://*************.net/index.php?topic=2275.0
    Joe Clark is still in jail. He is serving a life sentence. I'm not sure which article you are referring to that mentioned two other boys who watched him drown his first victim (Christian Steiner), but at the time Clark was a suspect and no one could give the detectives any information that wasn't hearsay. Then his mother alibied him, saying he was home at the time (which was later disproved in court). For that reason, Clark was not questioned further and could not be arrested. The police basically had nothing to go on, even though Chris' mother had suspected Clark from the very beginning.

    The Illinois boy would not be a victim of Joe Clark, as he disappeared in 2007, which is more than a decade after Phillips' kidnapping and well into Clark's life sentence.

    Hope this helps
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    I wonder if Joe's other victim was an infant? I think that it would be easy for an infant's death to be considered SIDS or something else-who would do XRAYS? Remember they missed the fractures in Christian's case initially.

    Joe had to have had some cover being provided by his parents-there is no way that they had no idea what was going on with him. He practiced, he was organized and he was very specific. And he also had girlfriends???

    It boggles the mind.

    But Thad is really and truly a miracle. He is something very special.
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    That's an interesting theory, and one I hadn't considered. I have always assumed that Clark lied about the other victim, since there was no evidence of another youth with broken legs. Clark's MO was the broken legs and the age/gender of his victims--specifically, young teenaged boys (Chris was 14, Thad was 13). Since a third victim was not identified, my theory was that Clark lied about it either in an attempt to scare Thad into believing he was a more experienced predator, and/or that he was trying to further live out the fetish by inventing another victim. It would be interesting to find out if there was an infant in his family or circle of friends that died under suspicious or unexplained circumstances.

    I don't find it impossible that his parents really had no clue that their son was a psychopath. They didn't seem like the most...hands-on parents. The deplorable condition of the house attested to that, IMO. And even if he had shown signs, they probably wouldn't have seen them for what they were. That said, if you've seen Clark's photo, you can see something in his eyes that's just not right. At least I can. It's like there's nothing there. No conscience whatsoever. *shudder*

    I also don't think that Clark was as organized as it may seem, at least in that he didn't cover his tracks well. Getting away with Chris' murder was really just a stroke of luck rather than skill or planning; Chris' mother suspected Clark from the beginning, but the police had nothing concrete to hold him on, and then his mother alibied him, which tied their hands completely. At that point no one could have known about his fetish for breaking bones, and the three lists in his notebook would have seemed too vague to connect the dots.

    I suspect that Chris' murder really opened him up to the possibility that he could do it again. Thad's kidnapping, obviously, necessitated much more calculation. Still, the fact that he left Thad alone in the house twice--especially the second time, after Thad had already made one nearly successful escape attempt--and allowed his girlfriend to enter the house where he was keeping Thad prisoner, tells me that he was far too sure of himself to be very careful. I'm sure he did put a lot of thought into his plan--he had almost a year to formulate one--but the execution of the crimes didn't seem like those of an experienced predator. (Yet.)


    The fact that no x-rays were done on the body of a teenager with an undetermined manner of death is unbelievable. How that got past the coroner's office is beyond me.

    Incidentally, I remember reading that Clark was adopted. I can't remember where, but I seem to recall that he was not his parents' birth child.

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    I get your points, but I will tell you why I think he was organized:
    1.) His lists of people and what he would do to each of them
    2.) His belief that taking Thad would not cause anyone to search for him at his house in spite of being just a mile away from where Thad lived-and in spite of knowing he was suspected in Christian's death.
    3.) His fascination with the sound and feel of bones breaking in his hands. That is a very very specific "fetish" for lack of a better word. It had to start somewhere.

    His mother knew to alibi her son for Christian's death-she must have had an idea that he was capable of hurting another boy. After all, if she believed him innocent, why would she bother to lie for him? Why would she assume that telling the police that he was not in the house on that night would make him responsible for Christians death? JMO.

    Joe has to have a trail of wounded/dead animals or someone else in his past-even if he had just been guilty of hurting Christian how do you come to the decision to break someone's extremities and then throw him in the water? Not stab him, choke him or beat him to death...but break his limbs making him helpless.
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    I get your points, but I will tell you why I think he was organized:
    1.) His lists of people and what he would do to each of them
    2.) His belief that taking Thad would not cause anyone to search for him at his house in spite of being just a mile away from where Thad lived-and in spite of knowing he was suspected in Christian's death.
    3.) His fascination with the sound and feel of bones breaking in his hands. That is a very very specific "fetish" for lack of a better word. It had to start somewhere.
    Yeah, I see what you mean, he was organized in a way...maybe it's that he was organized in the planning but not the execution? He probably doesn't think too fast on his feet, so to speak. It seemed like he did a lot of planning but then during the actual event he either got too cocky or didn't think it through well enough. His complacency is probably what got him caught--firstly, he assumed Thad wouldn't get away. And that is why he told him about Chris. Had he not, he would never have been tied to his death, since no x-rays would have connected the two crimes. As a result he was convicted of both crimes, all because he assumed that he would never be caught. Not sure if that is necessarily disorganization, though...I may be using the wrong term.

    I don't know anything about the psychology of fetishes, especially really specific ones like Clark's. You're probably right about how he came to figure out that he enjoyed the sound of breaking bones--how else does one come to that conclusion? He probably developed a fascination with it at a young age, either through the torture of animals, which is pretty likely, or by seeing it somewhere, and over his adolescence it somehow grew into a fetish. Park Deitz, who testified in at least one of the trials, did confirm that it was a fetish and said that Clark also had a fetish for men's white socks as well, which he also incorporated into the fantasy when he wrapped Thad's legs in them after breaking them. I wish I understood more about how these things develop; a fetish for breaking bones is just inconceivable to me. Not to mention that it wasn't just about breaking bones, but specifically the "leg thing"--he enjoyed breaking legs particularly.

    His mother knew to alibi her son for Christian's death-she must have had an idea that he was capable of hurting another boy. After all, if she believed him innocent, why would she bother to lie for him? Why would she assume that telling the police that he was not in the house on that night would make him responsible for Christians death? JMO.
    I could be wrong, but I think that she honestly believed the story she told the police, at least initially. She told them that he was home the night Chris died, and that he could not have sneaked out of the house because she would have known. In court, the prosecutor presented evidence that Joe had previously been able to sneak out of the house where others could confirm this, at times when she thought he was home. He apparently had a history of sneaking out of the house past his mother, who was a heavy sleeper. So it's possible that she really thought he was home and that she wasn't lying (the ability of parents to live in denial of their children's activities is well documented and pretty frightening). She was interviewed in the Cold Case Files documentary and she seemed pretty convinced of his innocence to this day. I can't even fathom the kind of delusional thinking that must take. But then, it must be hard to realize you raised a monster.

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    I joined this website because I came across this discussion. I also just watched the "tortured" program about Thad and Joe. I don't live far from Baraboo and have visited the small town on several occasions at the "Circus World Museum".
    Anyway, I have wondered too what sort of investigation the authorities have put forth to finding out the 3rd victim? It was mentioned in this blog that it was possibly a baby, something to consider with that is... he "liked" the sound of bones breaking. In a baby, the bones wouldn't make the same sound, as their bones are significantly softer and harder to break than an animals or older person, he probably wouldn't have got the joy out of that.
    I wonder why, after Thad was reported missing, the police didn't go directly to Joe's home, since he was already a person of interest in the Chris Steiner case? Which brings up another question, they didn't question Joe any longer after his mother alibied him for the night of Chris's disappearance. It sounds like Joe had friends (even girlfriends), could the police not ask them if Joe was known to sneak out of the house? Since when do authorities quit an investigation because a mother says "oh he was home that night, I would have woke up if he tried to sneak out"?? And then the coroner not even doing a complete autopsy on Chris... this was in the 1990's, not the 1930's, there is no exuse for these mistakes to be made. I feel bad for Thad having to live everyday with what he went through. And knowing that if the authorities would have done an accurate job after Chris was murdered, he would have never been in that situation. After all, Chris's Mom said all along that she thought Joe was involved.
    I wonder if Joe's Mom was ever charged with obstruction of justice or anything for lying to police??

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    Welcome Pamrinn and thank you for a thoughtful first post-this case is a very difficult one for me-the inhumanity takes my breath away, almost more than any other case I have ever seen or heard about.

    I think about Thad frequently-I pray that his days are pleasant and full of love and success. He has to be one of the most resilient individuals I have ever, ever heard about.

    You make a good point regarding babies, btw.
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    I know this is an old thread...

    Babies are THOROUGHLY investigated if they die. There is NO way he could have killed a child and had it go unnoticed. All infants are checked for abuse, that includes X-rays. If there is another 3rd victim, it would have to have been a person no one ever looked for. Maybe a vagrant, maybe a runaway, or some other young male passing through the area.

    In regards to the 2007 case with the IL student whose car was found and pants found in the river. I feel this is likely related to some other cases that currently are 'uninvestigateable'

    http://chippewa.com/news/article_86b...tml?mode=story

    http://www.communitywalk.com/some_of...33074#00047J=8

    These victims all were found in or near bodies of water, or it is presumed they drowned. In all the cases there is almost no physical evidence, and some of the bodies have never been found. These murders have been named the 'smile face killer/s' as no one knows if it is a person or a group. There is some anecdotal evidence that these people have been 'targeted' by this 'smiley face' group. At any rate Joe Clark is a freak, and I hope he is having a horrible time in prison.

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    I was in jail in baraboo back then when joe was arrested. I was very young then but when i look back on it now my observation of joe clark was that he was amazingly detatched from what was going on, i remember him denying what he'd done to everyone in the cell block, and i remember him not realy fitting the mold of what you might see a criminal look like. He almost seemed preppy to me. He had trouble there also, as more details were released about what he did to thad, we in the cell block would find out by reading the baraboo news republic, and i remember we all began questioning him about what he did, and a few of us began confronting him more, eventually leading to a fight where i was given a disorderly conduct charge for hitting him. I was moved and then never saw him again. It's still weird to me how he was one of those people that it was hard to imagine him doing what he did. So i think his fetish was deeply secret tod him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bandit12 View Post
    I was in jail in baraboo back then when joe was arrested. I was very young then but when i look back on it now my observation of joe clark was that he was amazingly detatched from what was going on, i remember him denying what he'd done to everyone in the cell block, and i remember him not realy fitting the mold of what you might see a criminal look like. He almost seemed preppy to me. He had trouble there also, as more details were released about what he did to thad, we in the cell block would find out by reading the baraboo news republic, and i remember we all began questioning him about what he did, and a few of us began confronting him more, eventually leading to a fight where i was given a disorderly conduct charge for hitting him. I was moved and then never saw him again. It's still weird to me how he was one of those people that it was hard to imagine him doing what he did. So i think his fetish was deeply secret tod him.
    Welcome to Websleuths, Bandit-

    I never think about those who were forced to be around someone like him...like in a jail setting. Your perspective is unique, I mean of course you would question him and interact with him.

    What was it that caused you to hit him?
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    Bumpity bump-someone reached out to me for information regarding this case and I thought we might be able to restart the discussion...
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    I saw the Cold Case episode a couple of days ago and that was the first time I'd ever heard of this crime. I've read about many strange crimes and strange people, certainly, but for some reason this case struck as extremely peculiar. I think it's because I can't really understand the motivation, I struggle to understand what Clark was getting from it. In some way it feels almost like an unsolved crime to me, with all the questions I'm left with. I feel like there has to be more to it than what I've read.

    If people haven't seen the Cold Case episode, it's on YouTube here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...rkczyQ#t=1487s

    The episode of 'Escaped' is on YouTube too but it's in Russian. I haven't been able to see the English version. From what I hear though it's better? It's certainly longer, double the length of the Cold Case report.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuMW7gOJyGY"]Ÿ‹‚ки в п€иго€оде - Я избежал см刂и - YouTube[/ame]

    Are those two the only documentaries? I thought I read about a third but now I can't find where I saw that written - maybe I just misread.

    Quote Originally Posted by nykyana View Post
    Park Deitz, who testified in at least one of the trials, did confirm that it was a fetish and said that Clark also had a fetish for men's white socks as well, which he also incorporated into the fantasy when he wrapped Thad's legs in them after breaking them. I wish I understood more about how these things develop; a fetish for breaking bones is just inconceivable to me. Not to mention that it wasn't just about breaking bones, but specifically the "leg thing"--he enjoyed breaking legs particularly.
    I find it likewise inconceivable. I can understand a desire to inflict pain, to torture, etc, but the specific interest in legs, I find it just baffling. From the Cold Case show it sounded almost like he didn't get his thrills from the pain it caused, he just had some strange interest in simply breaking legs. Then there's the socks, bandages and leg brace... Did he want to pretend he was a doctor healing someone, was that part of it? Was he trying to re-create some memory? I struggle to understand what was the thought behind all this.

    To label it a 'fetish' makes it more understandable. I hadn't heard that before but looking up Deitz I see also found this report, with the claim:

    "Madison attorney Mark Frank, representing the Baraboo teen-ager, said Clark suffered brain damage from a motorcycle accident a couple years ago."

    If he did suffer some sort of brain trauma I guess that makes it all even more understandable, to be able to chalk it up as that, but still I find it all quite puzzling. I wonder if Clark suffered broken bones at some point, if it began with something like that. Or did he unintentionally break someone's leg in a fight? Where did it begin for him, that's what I wonder. And what sort of person was he like before this? A general trouble-maker around town?

    One thing that I haven't heard discussed anywhere is the possibility of their being some sexual aspect to the crime, that being part of the motivation. Has anyone read anything about that? Despite not seeing any reports on this, a search of this site below shows that Clark is actually listed as a sex offender because of the Thad case. He is listed as a sex offender for 'Child Enticement.'

    The search you can do yourself here:

    http://offender.doc.state.wi.us/lop/home.do

    Joseph C. Clark, born 05/02/1978. Mugshots from 2003 are there too.

    Searching this site reveals other details:

    http://wcca.wicourts.gov

    In case number 1995CF000181, which is the Thad case, he was convicted of "Child Enticement-Cause Mental/BodilyHarm." That, it seems, is why he's now as a sex offender. In addition to this a charge of "Child Enticement-Expose Sex Organ" was dismissed. This could have been dismissed in favor of larger charges (attempted murder, for one...).

    What does that all mean then?

    Additionally, a couple of other cases that seem to be for Clark come up in that search. One gives his address at the time, if it's of any worth to anyone, as <Modsnip>.

    Quote Originally Posted by nykyana View Post
    Chris' mother suspected Clark from the beginning
    How is that, I wonder. I know that later Clark told people he'd killed Chris but earlier than that was there something else that led them to think he'd done it? Did they actually know him? That's another confusing part of these crimes - there's no mention of the three people knowing each and yet in the case of Thad he lived just down the road, you'd have to think they knew him at least in passing. And a post here also mentions going to school with all three:

    http://forensicsncrime.proboards.com...3&page=1#13553

    As well, the notebooks of Clark suggest he was befriending or at least researching people in advance, with the 'can wait' and 'get to [k]now' columns.

    Another thing, what do people think 'leg thing' actually meant in his notebook? It was a long list of names. Was Steiner in that column, was it a list of people he'd done the 'leg thing' to? We know Steiner was mentioned in the notebook but under what column?

    Quote Originally Posted by believe09 View Post
    Beyond this, does anyone know how Thad is really doing? I would love to know if there has been lifelong support offered to this very very special man.
    A year after the crime, Thad was shot in the back by a boy who claims Thad and another boy were threatening him, you can read about it here:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...boo+thad&hl=en

    The boy later got a restraining order against Thad. There are other reports out there if you search. In the thread linked before, a nephew of Clark, which may be of general interest, also mentions some other things:

    http://forensicsncrime.proboards.com...3&page=1#13549

    As well, someone there writes:

    "I don't deny that his escape was amazing and I am glad he survived and I am sorry he was tortured, no one deserves that. BUT Thad Phillips is the kind of punk (speaking from PERSONAL INTERACTION not just newspaper interviews) that I would not have been surprised to have leared that the situation was reversed. Even BEFORE he was kidnapped and tortured he was a violent and mean spirited person. Afterward he only got worse ... and it was multiplied because he wasn't punished for his own sadistic behavior."

    Quote Originally Posted by believe09 View Post
    Is anyone interested in trying to figure out who the third victim of Joe's might have been?
    With the 'third victim,' Clark was asked by Thad if he'd done "this" before and at the time all he'd done to Thad was torture him, not kill him. It seems reasonable to presume then that the "third victim" may just have had his legs broken or been tortured, not necessarily been killed.
    Last edited by SoSueMe; 07-08-2012 at 08:49 AM. Reason: Edit Address

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    I'm not sure if anyone has much interest in this story but I've continued searching here and found some other details. It's a little difficult finding information, there doesn't seem to be any information about it outside of news reports at the time of the trial and articles concerning the recent documentaries.

    This article here is perhaps the most illuminating outside of the documentary, at least from what I've found:

    http://newspaperarchive.com/wisconsi...nal/1996-09-18

    That answers many of the questions I had. It says that Clark was a sexual sadist, that there was in fact a sexual motive to the crime. Thad, it reports, said that Clark wrapped his own legs in bandages and masturbated in front of him at one point. I've done a lot of searching and that's the only time I've been able to find any mention of this or really any details of what Clark did outside of the leg breaking.

    This report here also revealing information on Clark:

    http://newspaperarchive.com/wisconsi...nal/1996-09-17

    It said that he was a bully at school and in 1992 phoned a teacher with a death threat. It also says they found "80 to 100" pairs of socks in his home. I also saw it mentioned, I can't remember if it was that article or another, that Clark was at Chris' house on the day he was abducted, that that's why Chris' parents suspected him. That also means, obviously, that he knew Chris.

    After reading these I'm now not feeling so baffled by this crime anymore. I still find the whole thing very bizarre but no longer so puzzling, Clark seems to me now like a killer/predator of a variety I'm sure most here have read about before.

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    Thank you Bluto for all of your research. I think there was no question as to whether or not the crime was sexually motivated for me-I did always view it as a fetish. As for the traumatic brain injury, I would guess I would want to know his behavior prior. Something tells me Clark was hard wired this way. The bone thing had to start early...animals and the like. It is very very specific. Along with the white socks.
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    BUT Thad Phillips is the kind of punk (speaking from PERSONAL INTERACTION not just newspaper interviews) that I would not have been surprised to have leared that the situation was reversed. Even BEFORE he was kidnapped and tortured he was a violent and mean spirited person. Afterward he only got worse ... and it was multiplied because he wasn't punished for his own sadistic behavior."
    I am trying to get a sense of how someone experiencing these injuries and having the rehab he must have had managed to create a situation where a shooting was justified. In the back no less. It is an interesting twist for sure. Thad had the will to live through all of this which must have come from somewhere for sure...
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    From your link Bluto, the shooter was charged with the attempted first degree murder. If his story was believed by LE, I would have assumed some kind of equivilent stand your ground law would have allowed him to protect himself when and if the boys had pushed in the back door. just a quick opinion.
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  31. #23
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    Wow, I didn't realize this conversation had been revisited. Lots of new stuff here.

    I should mention that I've been aware of this case in some detail since about 2001 or so, when I first saw the Cold Case Files episode, and have done quite a bit of research on it. The newspaper articles which I found (with the help of a site called Highbeam) covered the sexual fetish aspect of the case quite well. I have also been able to find a copy of the "Escaped" episode, it is in English with (I believe) Chinese subtitles ... I will try to find the link if people are interested.

    Quote Originally Posted by believe09 View Post
    I am trying to get a sense of how someone experiencing these injuries and having the rehab he must have had managed to create a situation where a shooting was justified. In the back no less. It is an interesting twist for sure. Thad had the will to live through all of this which must have come from somewhere for sure...
    The simple fact of the matter of the shooting was that Thad and a friend were bullying a local boy, and the boy felt threatened. Apparently they had threatened to kill his pets, and had attempted to enter his house, which is when the boy fired the shot (BB). I believe I also read that the boy who was being bullied was developmentally disabled. The shooting really had nothing to do with Thad's injuries, and the incidents were connected only by time; Thad was scheduled to testify against Clark, but his testimony had to be postponed as a result of his hospitalization.

    It is so difficult not to romanticize people we consider heroes. How can I say this...Heroes are not always what we want them to be. The comment quoted by Bluto above illuminates this fact very well. Thad's bravery made his escape heroic. But being heroic, and being a hero, are different things. I continue to be impressed by Thad's courage during (and, I'm certain, after) his ordeal. Who he was, who he is now, and what he has become, is a separate issue to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by believe09
    I think about Thad frequently-I pray that his days are pleasant and full of love and success. He has to be one of the most resilient individuals I have ever, ever heard about.
    As do I. As do I. I also hope that his resiliency carries over into other aspects of his life.

    I hope that makes some sense to those of you who know me.
    Last edited by adnoid; 12-10-2012 at 01:37 PM.

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