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Stolen exotic animals lead to murder: Waupaca homicide victim's mother in court today

Wisconsin - A Waupaca woman was in court today, facing charges for the shooting death of her 18-year-old son, reportedly over stolen reptiles.

Tiffany Powell, 35, and William Zelenski, 44, are charged with the October death of Ryelee Manente-Powell.

According to court documents, on the evening of Oct. 19, 2020, Zelenski called police to report the theft of reptiles, guns and alcohol from his rural Waupaca home. Some of the reptiles were reportedly venomous and the cash value of the stolen reptiles and other items was estimated at $27,000.

Zelenski told police he received a tip that Manente-Powell and his 17-year-old friend, Ashton Tody, were involved in the theft. Powell and Zelenski went looking for Manente-Powell and Tody. Sometime after 10:00 p.m., Zelenski confronted Manente-Powell on Van Street in Waupaca.

The altercation was caught on a nearby doorbell camera, which recorded Manente-Powell telling Zelenski to put the gun down and “fight like a man.”

At one point Powell pointed the gun at her son before handing the gun back to Zelenski, documents say. Around 10:30 p.m., Zelenski reported to police that he shot Manente-Powell three times. Evidence indicates Manente-Powell was shot once.

Tody, Zelenski and Powell were all arrested.

Tody is free on bond, facing charges of burglary, theft, trespassing and criminal damage to property. His next court appearance is April 16 for a status conference.

Zelenski remains incarcerated, facing a charge of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide. His next hearing is a status conference on June 8.

Powell remains incarcerated, facing charges of party to the crime of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, 1st Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety and Felon In Possession Of A Firearm. She has pled not guilty.


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