State v. Kraimer

In State v. Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d 306, 316-17, 298 N.W.2d 568 (1980), the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a warrantless entry into a defendant's home under the emergency exception. The police had received three anonymous telephone calls in which the caller stated, in part, that he had shot and killed his wife, his four children were with him, and he was very upset. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 308. After conducting some investigation, the police concluded that the anonymous caller was Kraimer. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 308-09. The police then made a warrantless entry into Kraimer's home to investigate the status of Kraimer's wife and a possible burglary and to ascertain the welfare of his children. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 319. The supreme court ruled the warrantless entry reasonable under the emergency exception because the officer's main purpose was not to secure evidence of a crime, but to determine the condition of the children and provide aid or assistance, if necessary. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 320, 328-29. In State v. Kraimer, the officer's role in investigating an emergency and a potentially dangerous situation was at issue. In Kraimer, police received three telephone calls from an anonymous man who was very upset, claimed to have shot his wife and had his four children in the home with him. See id. at 308. The police investigated and located Kraimer's house by determining that the Kraimer children had not reported to school. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 308-09. A detective went to the house, received no response when he knocked and announced his presence, and found a windowpane missing from the back door. The detective did not know if he was investigating a prank call, a burglary or a homicide. See id. at 309. With the assistance of other officers, the detective entered the house without a warrant to investigate the possibility of a burglary, a homicide or danger to the children, whom a neighbor had seen playing outside in the preceding days. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 309-10. The officers found Kraimer and his children in the house. Kraimer thanked the officers for coming, admitting that he was the one who had called the police, and in response to the question "Where is your wife?" admitted shooting her. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 310-11. Although Kraimer moved to suppress his statements due to the absence of Miranda warnings, the supreme court upheld the statements on the grounds that the detective's question was a natural reaction to the situation. See Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 330. Because the detective was investigating a reported emergency, "his query can only be viewed as a general-on-the-scene questioning in order to determine whether Mrs. Kraimer was present and in need of assistance." Id. Therefore, the officers were not required to advise Kraimer of his Miranda rights because at the time the officer inquired, "he was performing an investigation of a reported emergency and crime." Kraimer, 99 Wis. 2d at 330-31.