Public Safety

Burlington man argues blood draw after car fire was unconstitutional

He is charged with vehicular homicide in death of wife

Bradley Wischmeier
Bradley Wischmeier

BURLINGTON — A man accused in the bizarre death of his wife wants a district judge to suppress results of blood and urine tests taken from him the night of the death, claiming deputies violated his constitutional rights.

Bradley Wischmeier, 58, of rural Burlington, is facing charges of vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while intoxicated in connection with the April 17 death of his wife, Lisa Wischmeier, 50.

Her badly burned body was found about 6:30 p.m. next to their burning car in a cornfield on the couple’s property north of Burlington.

Bradley Wischemeier was found by first responders several feet from the burning car.

He was transported to the hospital with minor burns. While there, blood and urine samples were drawn by emergency personnel.

Court documents indicate Wischmeier had a blood alcohol level of 0.14, almost twice the legal limit to operate a vehicle in Iowa.

The documents filed by the defense also indicate Wischmeier did not have any controlled substances in his system at the time the blood and urine samples were taken.

In a motion to suppress filed in Des Moines County District Court, James Beres, Wischmeier’s public defender, said the blood-alcohol and urine tests should be suppressed by the court if the case goes to trial because Wischmeier’s constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement and an associate district judge, who authorized the search warrants needed to perform the tests.

“Discovery furnished (to the defense by the state) reflects Des Moines County (sheriff’s deputies) obtained a ‘verbal warrant’ from a district associate judge to draw blood and urine samples from the defendant during a telephone call with the judge,” Beres wrote.

Beres said it does not appear the “state complied with statutory requirements for obtaining a telephonic search warrant ... It further does not appear that any proper search warrant was issued before the blood and urine samples were drawn.”

Wischmeier’s trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. July 24. His pretrial conference is set for July 9.

Under Iowa law, he faces up to 25 years in prison and will be required to pay $150,000 to his wife’s estate if convicted of vehicular homicide.

According to law enforcement reports, Wischmeier was with his wife when the fire broke out shortly after 6:30 p.m. April 17.

First responders found him lying about 20 yards from the burning vehicle suffering non-life threatening injuries.

Lisa Wischmeier was found dead less than 10 feet away from the fully engulfed vehicle.

“Upon arrival, officers spoke with (Brad) Wischmeier who stated he had been driving the vehicle (with Lisa Wischmeier inside) around the field ‘crazily’ until it overheated,” court documents state.

“(Brad) Wischmeier stated several times (to deputies) he was driving the vehicle ...

“(He) was taken to Great River Medical Center for injuries due to the fire. While at GRMC, hospital staff asked him if he was under the influence of anything, and he stated: Booze.”

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Investigators have speculated when the car’s engine overheated, it caused the stalks in the harvested cornfield to catch fire, spreading to the vehicle.

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