DA: Suspect stabbed man over spot in bathroom line

By Brandi Makuski

District Attorney Louis Molepske will prosecute the case against Joseph Stalnaker, who has been charged with stabbing a man inside a downtown restaurant bathroom. 

Stalnaker, 28 of Stevens Point, is being charged with first-degree attempted intentional homicide for allegedly stabbing a 24-year-old man following an argument that started when Stalnaker cut in line for the men’s room. The victim has been identified as Stevens Point resident Kurtis Johnson.

Joseph A. Stalnaker. (Courtesy Portage Co. Jail)

Stalnaker was ordered held on $50,000 cash bond by Portage Co. Court Commissioner Janet Roberts Monday.

Stalnaker was arrested on Nov. 18 after a seven-hour manhunt in Portage and Waupaca counties. He was located at his girlfriend’s apartment in Waupaca, police said.

Molepske said Stevens Point police followed a “large pool of blood” to the bathroom at Polito’s Pizza, 960 Main St., where they found Johnson “without a shirt on, covered in blood from the torso up”, and attempting to use paper towels to stop his bleeding.

Molepske said Johnson’s wound was “two-to-three inches wide and eight inches long”, spanning from behind his left ear to under his jawline. Johnson required 12 internal sutures and 21 staples to close the wound, and remains in “very concerning condition,” Molepske said.

Stalnaker fled the scene using alleys in the downtown area, eventually returning to his Main St. apartment where he changed clothes and retrieved a firearm. Police later found his bloody clothing under the basement staircase during a search of the residence. It was not immediately clear if police recovered his firearm.

Upon entering the apartment he told his roommate, “I think I killed someone,” before fleeing to his girlfriend’s apartment in Waupaca. He was taken into custody by the Waupaca Co. Sheriff’s Office and transported to the Portage Co. Jail for his Monday court appearance.

During questioning, Stalnaker reportedly admitted that Johnson did not threaten him and that he had used a knife he was carrying to attack Johnson in the bathroom. Molepske said a doctor overseeing Johnson’s treatment told law enforcement that were it not for Johnson’s larger size, he would have died from blood loss at the scene.

He has multiple convictions of assault in Iowa but no criminal record in Portage Co., Molepske said.

Stalnaker remains behind bars at the Portage Co. Jail and returns to court Dec. 3.