By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A Minnesota woman and a Boyceville woman arrested in connection with a hostage hoax that brought approximately 30 law enforcement officers to Boyceville have been ordered to pay $3,000 in fines, court costs and restitution.
Michelle Renee Lien, 27, from Minnesota, and Holly Berg, 44, of Boyceville, pleaded no contest to one count of obstructing an officer in Dunn County Circuit Court August 20.
The Honorable Rod W. Smeltzer accepted the pleas, found the women guilty and dismissed the second charge of obstructing.
Lien and Berg were arrested May 29 after the Dunn County E-911 Center had received a report from a woman that her daughter was being held against her will.
Both women were subsequently charged with two misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer.
During the August 20 court hearing, Judge Smeltzer withheld sentencing and placed the defendants on one year of probation.
Berg was ordered to pay $423.81.
Lien was ordered to pay $3,051.07.
Berg called 911 at around 1:30 p.m. on May 29 and said she had received text messages from her daughter that she was being held hostage.
Initially, law enforcement officers believed the woman was being held in the City of Menomonie or that she had been taken from Menomonie.
At around 2:30 p.m., additional information revealed that the woman could possibly be a hostage in the Town of New Haven in northwestern Dunn County.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department contacted the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, at the Eau Claire office and requested the assistance of a technology agent trained in cell phone investigations.
A number of text messages were sent and received alleging that the younger woman was being held at a house by a large man and that he was armed with a knife and a gun.
The text messages also claimed that the woman had two young children with her.
Based on the information provided, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department requested the use of the Eau Claire SWAT Team in case forced entry would be necessary to rescue the woman once the residence had been identified and located.
At about 6 p.m. that evening, another residence in Wheeler was checked, but the woman was not there. While the Dunn County deputy was in the area, he saw someone who fit the description of the alleged victim.
The deputy spoke to the woman and determined that she was, indeed, the alleged victim.
Lien eventually admitted to sending false text messages to Berg and to law enforcement and was subsequently arrested for obstructing an officer.
Lien was believed to have been staying in Menomonie and had recently began staying with someone in Wheeler or was visiting someone in Wheeler.
People’s State Bank in Boyceville was used as a staging area for the law enforcement officers who had converged on Boyceville to deal with the alleged hostage situation, leading to numerous rumors that the bank had been robbed and that hostages were being held at the bank.