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Dairy princess charged with strangling former friend

WAUSAU, Wis. -- The reigning Marathon County dairy princess has been charged with strangling a former friend who planned to marry the princess's ex-boyfriend.

Lori Esker, 20, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the current Marathon County dairy princess, was charged with first-degree murder in the strangulation slaying of Lisa Cihaski, whose body was found Sept. 21 outside the Rib Mountain Howard Johnson motel.

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Esker and Cihaski had been friends when they attended Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, where Cihaski graduated in 1986 and Esker in 1987.

Esker told Marathon County Sheriff's Deputy Randy Hoenisch she waited outside the hotel where Cihaski worked the night of Sept. 20. She told Hoenisch they got into Cihaski's car, argued and fought and Esker allegedly said she put her arm against Cihaski's throat and then wrapped a belt around the victim's neck.

'Esker said she was so scared and couldn't believe she did something like that,' Hoenisch said in the criminal complaint. 'Lori Esker said she went back to River Falls and said she 'hoped nobody would find out.''

Marathon County Sheriff LeRoy Schillinger has said jealousy apparently was the motive in the slaying. Cihaski was about to become engaged to Bill Buss, Esker's former boyfriend.

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