Three years ago, Jeremiah Button vanished weeks before his trial on charges of first-degree child sexual assault and possession of child pornography. Authorities were unable to locate him, even though he didn't go very far. It turns out, Button built a bunker nestled deep in the woods on state land in the township of Ringle. He constructed his makeshift bunker near an embankment off the Ice Age Trail and gathered underbrush to hide his dwelling from view.
Button managed to stay off the grid for over three years until a local hunter stumbled upon the hidden bunker. Thomas Nelson found the bunker a few months ago and quickly left the area.
Nelson decided to go back to the bunker, and this time, he noticed the door was unlatched.
"I pushed the door open, and I look inside, and I can see canned foods, there's little storage boxes, and I'm like, I gotta go in," he said. "I come around the corner a bit, and there he is, laying in his bed. I mean, I was shaking when I went in, I was shaking when I went out."
Nelson ran out and called the police. After a 20-minute standoff Button surrendered and was taken into custody. The officers were shocked that he managed to live in such a cramped space for so long. He told the officers he stockpiled food and other supplies while he was waiting for his trial to begin. After his supplies ran out, he began raiding the local landfill.
Button installed solar panels on the roof which were connected to three car batteries that he used to power LED lights, a television, radios, cooling fans, and various electronic devices. He even built a water filtration system to ensure he always had clean drinking water.
"He was not only surviving but thriving in this structure through all of the different supplies he was able to find," Detective Lieutenant Jeff Stefonek said. "Not a lot of air comes in from the outside, and it was a small enough space that he was able to survive the winters obviously and keep himself warm, and it's cool down there this time of year, and it is stocked full of all of the items that he was able to pilfer from the Marathon County landfill by sorting through garbage."
Button remains in custody on a $100,000 cash bond. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled in September.