LA CROSSE, Wis. -- The La Crosse woman whose body was found face down in a parking lot earlier this week died from strangulation, and police said Friday they've arrested the man who killed her.
Izelia Golatt, 44, faces first-degree intentional homicide charges. He's currently being held in the La Crosse County Jail.
Police say Golatt and Rodgers knew each other and were together the night before Rodgers' body was found.
Golett was arrested early Friday morning at his apartment in La Crosse. Neighbors said they never thought anything like this would happen in the quiet neighborhood they call home.
Cheryl Oliver was staying with her son and daughter in-law's family in their duplex Thursday night.
“This was a surprise to all of us last night,” said Oliver. “We didn't know. We had no clue what was going on.”
Oliver said she heard unusual noises from the other side of the wall that night.
“All of a sudden, I heard someone running up the neighbor's stairs," said Oliver. "And then we heard him yelling over next door 'What's going on?'”
Shortly afterward, police arrested Gollat.
“There were cops and whatever S.W.A.T out here and everything,” said Oliver. “It was like all night long. It kept the kids up and everyone was a little bit upset around here because we didn't know what was happening.”
Police said Golatt was with 35-year old Kristen Tabbert Rodgers the night before her body was found.
“The suspect is an acquaintance, and as pointed out earlier, you'll see illegal drug used plays an integral role throughout this entire case,” said Chief Ed Kondracki of the La Crosse Police Department.
The criminal complaint said several people were with Rodgers at a house on Copeland Avenue between 10 p.m. Monday night and 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
One of the people at the house said at some point, she and Rodgers left in a dark mini-van with a black male driver. The van was registered to Golatt, police said.
The witness told police they went to go buy drugs and returned to the home. Rodgers left later that evening after making a phone call to buy more drugs, but never returned, the witness said.
The surveillance video from the Options Clinic on the north side showed Golatt driving dark minivan turning into the alley near the area of where Rodger's body was later found.
Police said Golatt was seen leaving the alley in that same minivan about 20 minutes later alone at around 2:15 a.m.
"It was the course of, as I mentioned earlier, a whole lot of work by this team here -- if you look at that totality of what they did, the interviews the evidence-gathering -- all of it together pointed to the direction of this suspect, " said Kondracki.
Police said Golatt has a long history of arrests in and around the La Crosse area, including prior convictions of murder and sexual assault.
Toxicology reports from an autopsy are not yet available, but authorities emphasize illegal drugs will play an integral part in the case against Izelia Golatt.
Golatt is being held on a $1-million cash bond. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Friday.