Man’s Jealous Rage Results in Double Murder

A Wisconsin man, aged 49, has been convicted for the brutal murder of his girlfriend and her best friend, after he discovered them in an intimate situation and “snapped.” The jury in Brown County took just an hour to find Richard Wendell Sotka guilty of two counts of first-degree murder with a dangerous weapon. The victims were identified as Rhonda Cegelski, 58, and Paula O’Connor, 53, according to court documents.

In addition to the double murder, Sotka was found guilty of five counts of bail jumping and one count of criminal damage to property. One of the murder charges carried a domestic abuse modifier. The convictions carry a mandatory life sentence.

The police were alerted to the crime scene on January 29, 2023, when they received a 911 call from Cegelski’s daughter. She had discovered the bodies of the two victims in the duplex that her mother shared with Sotka. Both women had been repeatedly stabbed with an 8-inch blade that was found at the scene.

The Green Bay Press Gazette reported that both victims had multiple stab wounds to their faces and necks. O’Connor’s body was found near the duplex’s front door with a knife still lodged in her neck, while Cegelski’s body was found in the kitchen. Investigators immediately identified Sotka, who was in a relationship with Cegelski, as a person of interest in the case.

At the time of the murders, Sotka was out on bond for an unrelated case in Oconto County, Ohio, where he faced charges of stalking, harassment, and violation of a restraining order. He was required to wear a GPS ankle monitor as part of his bond conditions, but he had cut off the device and discarded it along Interstate 41, leading to the criminal damage to property charge.

However, Sotka was driving a truck fitted with an OnStar GPS tracker from his employer, which showed he was in Arkansas. Arkansas authorities apprehended Sotka approximately 10 hours after the bodies were discovered. He was found with about $4,000 in cash and his passport.

Following his arrest, Sotka confessed to the double murder. He told investigators that he felt “humiliated” after he saw the two women engaged in sexual activity after a night of heavy drinking. He also vehemently denied the stalking charges from the unrelated case in Ohio.

Sotka also revealed to authorities that he had “snapped” in a similar manner about 20 years ago with another woman he was dating. In that incident, he had severely injured the woman, knocking out her teeth, breaking her leg, and fracturing her skull. The victim from that case testified during Sotka’s murder trial.

Sotka is set to appear in court for his sentencing hearing on May 20. Although he faces a mandatory life sentence, Brown County Circuit Court Judge Beau Liegeois has the discretion to set a minimum duration before Sotka may be eligible for parole.