Brantner convicted in 1990 murder of Berit Beck

Dennis Brantner appears in Fond du Lac County court Feb. 2, 2018. (Photo courtesy WITI-TV)

FOND DU LAC (WLUK) -- After more than a quarter-century, Dennis Brantner has been convicted of the murder of Berit Beck.

Brantner, 64, entered what is called an Alford plea Friday in Fond du Lac County court. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes that prosecutors have enough evidence to convince a jury to convict.

The case has been open since 1990, when the 18-year-old Beck was traveling from her home in Sturtevant to Appleton but never arrived at her destination. Her van was found a few days later. Her body was eventually found in a ditch in Fond du Lac County.

The case remained cold until Brantner emerged as a suspect in 2014. A 2016 trial resulted in a hung jury, but prosecutors refiled the charges.

Brantner's plea avoids a second trial in the case.

Beck's family released a statement after the plea hearing:

We want to thank everyone from the Fond du Lac DA’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, and the family and friends that have supported us for so many years. We support this outcome and look forward to addressing the court at the upcoming sentencing hearing. We appreciate our privacy being respected during this difficult time as we have no further comments until the sentencing hearing.

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney released this statement:

No family should be forced to endure what Berit Beck’s family has gone through over the past 27½ years. There is no amount of prison time or punishment that can bring 'Beri' back or take away the anguish this family experiences. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Berit Beck.

Brantner is due to be sentenced March 1.

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