JANESVILLE—Neighbors said Joseph Jakubowski was quiet and polite and kept to himself in the few years they knew him.
Another woman, who characterized herself as a “relative” of Jakubowski’s, on Monday said Jakubowski had fallen on hard times in the past few months after he’d apparently lost his job at a local retail store and was unable to find other work or assistance.
Police believe Jakubowski mailed an anti-government manifesto to the president April 4, burglarized a rural Janesville gun shop and then vanished. Investigators continued an intensive local and national manhunt Monday.
Monday afternoon, a woman who pulled a car into Jakubowski’s last known residence at 811 Glen St. told The Gazette she would speak only on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns. She would only identify herself as a “relative” of Jakubowski’s.
The woman painted a picture of Jakubowski as a man who’d been struggling to find equilibrium after she said he’d lost his job at a local Best Buy store then hurt his back doing a pick-up job roofing houses.
“He lost his job, and he couldn’t find another job,” the woman said. “Couldn’t find work. Couldn’t get any help. Couldn’t get food stamps. Couldn’t get nothing. Hurt his back. What do you do?”
Despite those troubles, the woman said, Jakubowski had a history—even recently—of trying to help other people.
The woman said Jakubowski recently had helped mow people’s lawns, and he’d tackle handyman work and repair other people’s cars.
“He helped a gentleman that was taking organs from one hospital to the other that couldn’t get to his job because his car wouldn’t start. He changed the starter so that he could get to work that night,” the woman said.
The woman said she wasn’t sure what would have prompted Jakubowski to mail a 161-page manifesto to President Trump, then burglarize a gun shop, steal more than a dozen high-end guns, and then set his car on fire and disappear, as police believe. But she said it’s not the Joseph Jakubowski she knows.
“I don’t know what happened, or why he snapped. But Joe’s a good person down deep in his heart. Nobody’s printing anything good about him,” the woman said.
The woman said the last time she’d communicated with Jakubowski was at the end of March, when he indicated he planned to move out of the home on Glen Street.
“Joe was making a life for himself. He was making a good life. He just hit a really bad, hard run,” she said.
The woman said two other families live at 811 Glen St. She said one of the families recently moved in, and they don’t know Jakubowski. The woman would not disclose how she knew that information.
The Gazette on Monday knocked on the door to the upper level of the home where Jakubowski apparently lived for about two years, according to police and court records. No one answered.
Jakubowski is a longtime Janesville resident. A 1999 Janesville Parker High School yearbook in Gazette archives shows Jakubowski’s photo, and it has an image of him in uniform as a member of the high school concert band. Jakubowski was a freshman at Parker at the time.
Crystal Duran told The Gazette earlier she knew Jakubowski while growing up near Mercy Hospital and at Parker High School, where she saw him bullied.
“When we were younger, everybody was always picking on him all the time,” she said. “Kids beat him up at school.”
Duran said she never saw him do anything to prompt the bullying.
Jakubowski is well known to local police after minor scrapes with the law, mostly through his many traffic citations.
But in 2008, Jakubowski repeatedly pulled on an officer’s holstered sidearm during a fight with the officer in Janesville, according to a criminal complaint. Three officers eventually subdued him. He was charged with trying to disarm an officer and was sentenced to probation.
Police weren’t releasing much background information about the life of Jakubowski, and beyond characterizing his manifesto as broadly anti-government, police haven’t given much information about insights they’ve developed on Jakubowski’s mental state.
Sheriff Robert Spoden on Monday said the sheriff’s office was still interviewing people Jakubowski knows to gain insights into the man who police consider an armed and dangerous fugitive. He said investigators are working with FBI personality profile experts to try to piece together a clearer picture of Jakubowski’s personality and his mental state in the days leading up to him vanishing.
Spoden said he couldn’t highlight investigators’ findings because he didn’t want to compromise an ongoing investigation.
Jakubowski has been “highly agitated by national politics recently,” according to associates investigators have spoken to, Spoden said earlier.
“When you look at the (manifesto), it is a laundry list of injustices he believes government and society and the upper class have put … onto the rest of the citizens,” Spoden said.
Carol Austin, a landlord at the Glen Street house next door to Jakubowski, and Phil Scriven, one of Austin’s tenants, were outside doing yard work Monday. Both told The Gazette that in the two years Jakubowski lived next door, they’d had limited contact with the man, but they both characterized Jakubowski as “quiet” and “polite.”
Jakubowski once came by to borrow some oil and a set of wrenches from Scriven. Scriven said Jakubowski returned the tools promptly and thanked Scriven.
Scriven said he doesn’t know much about Jakubowski, who he said “stayed to himself and minded his own business.”
Scriven said he knew Jakubowski liked to drink soda—Mountain Dew, especially.
Scriven said it’s been a tense set of days for neighbors who’ve seen SWAT teams set up outside residences on Glen Street a few times.
“To see cops walking around carrying rifles in the neighborhood, all that commotion, it’s been unnerving to say the least, Scriven said. “We’ve had onlookers, sometimes 60 to 70 of them pulling up and down the street when police are here.
“It’s just been unsettling.”