Meeting John Senenfelder

When I went back to Winona in September, 2010, I had a laundry list of people to talk to that were willing and eager at this point. I spent my days at The Acoustic Coffee Shop, where I set up shop. I had a make shift office there, combined with great food, coffee, beer and WiFi. People would wait in chairs like a doctor’s office. One such person I was urged to try and speak with was John Senenfelder, Ada’s husband. The Winona daily News had published an article about him, showing him in his wheelchair, both legs gone, waving at cars passing in front of his house. It seemed they tricked him into talking about his car waving so they could pepper him with uncomfortable questions about Ada and his prison sentence for molestation. I was convinced he would not talk to me. Besides, I had plenty of people who did want to. One day, at Ron Nissalke’s house, he mentioned that Harley Howell, a nearby neighbor, had a son, Gary, who died mysteriously, had told him that Bobby Fort had Ada killed. I had the interview, but wanted to talk to Harley to see if there was more to the story as there usually is. Ron called up Harley and said we could come talk to him the next afternoon. Ron came and drove there at our appointed time. Together we drove down a near by alley, as it seemed Harley spent his afternoons in his open garage that faced the alley and wanted to meet me there instead of in his house. He was there waiting with plastic lawn chairs just inside the garage. We sat down as Harley and Ron lit cigarettes and we began to chat. Harley seemed to be mid to late 70’s, thin and very animated. It pleased him we were there, and I briefly told him what I was doing. He told me matter of fact that Jack was framed and he knew Bobby Fort had Ada killed. We talked for a good 20 minutes, when I mentioned the John S. story in the paper. Harley surprised us by allowing he and John are friends and John usually comes by the garage every afternoon. Harley said we had just missed him.

to be continued….

This account is found on page 69-73 in Murder and Deceit “The Story of Jack Nissalke” and is available on

Murder and Deceit

I wrote this book ten years ago but it needs a new read now in 2020. This is a true story and this man is still in prison, wrongfully convicted.

Murder and Deceit tells the story of Jack Nissalke, a Minnesota man wrongly convicted of murder. Ada Senenfelder was found dead in her home in Winona, Minnesota, in 1985. Dozens of witnesses and potential suspects were investigated and interrogated, but no one was ever charged with the crime. Flash forward 24 years later when Winona gets an ambitious new District Attorney named Chuck MacLean. MacLean decides to close the Senenfelder case once and for all. He offers a $50,000 reward for information about the cold case. Suddenly stories change, new denials are made, memories are hazy, and everyone has money on their mind. MacLean decides to charge Jack Nissalke with the long-ago crime, and wins a conviction after a bizarre trial that includes jury tampering, media tampering, and an incompetent defense.

This book is available on