A hearing is set for today, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, for a 38-year-old Rice Lake man who allegedly posed as a woman on Facebook and asked at least two witnesses to set fire to a Rice Lake building in exchange for sex, Barron County Circuit Court records said.
A complaint filed March 11 identifies the defendant as Eric J. Keesen, Rice Lake, and stems from an investigation by Rice Lake Police and the Washburn County Sheriff’s Department.
“In November 2020, Rice Lake police were made aware of an exchange of Facebook personal messages from someone identifying themselves as a woman named Vanessa,” the complaint said. “Vanessa” allegedly offered to have sex with someone in exchange for burning down a building on Main Street, where her ex-boyfriend was living. The witness, a 30-year-old man, showed the messages to officers. He said he thought it was a prank, but later decided to contact police.
The owner of the building turned out to be a 26-year-old Rice Lake woman whom police said had been the victim of a number of incidents allegedly perpetrated by the defendant. The complaint also said the defendant had repeatedly violated an injunction ordering him to have no contact with her. As the investigation continued, police became suspicious that “Vanessa’s” social media messages had, in fact, come from the defendant.
The complaint details three exchanges of personal messages between “Vanessa” and the witness who approached police, as well as two other witnesses. In two of the conversations, “Vanessa” offers the witnesses sex in exchange for setting fire to the building where the woman lived.
In January 2021, Rice Lake police received information from the Washburn County Sheriff’s Department, which was investigating the defendant in connection with a charge of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. The Internet Protocol address used by the defendant in the Washburn County case allegedly matched the one associated with “Vanessa’s” Facebook profile.
On Feb. 19, 2021, Charter Communications responded to a subpoena and confirmed that the IP address used in the Washburn County case matched an account in rural Rice Lake where the defendant had been living, the complaint said.