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The Man Inside The Milwaukee River Bunkers: Geoffrey Graff

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
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Geoffrey Graff’s bunker along the Milwaukee River and the gun cache inside was discovered by police in November 2019.";

Late last year, police officers were called to Estabrook Park when gunshots were heard. When they got there, they found a lot more than a few guns. They found Geoffrey Graff, the man who would become infamous for building two bunkers along the Milwaukee River, where he’d lived for 15 years.

Initially the story raised a lot more questions than it answered. Like, why did he build these bunkers, and why did he continue to live in them? Journalist Dan Simmons answers many of these questions in his article about Graff's life, which is featured in this month’s Milwaukee Magazine

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Credit Courtesy of Milwaukee Magazine
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Geoffrey Graff pictured with one of his dogs.

Graff grew up in Milwaukee with his mother, an analytical chemist. Graff was very gifted intellectually, but his intelligence led to boredom and misbehavior at school. He had trouble fitting in with most people, which became more difficult for him as he entered adulthood. It's unclear why he chose to live in these bunkers, aside from his desire to live a life free from the constraints of society.

"He had tried the conventional path of renting a place, working a job, doing the things that most of us do to survive in life, and that just wasn’t for him," Simmons explains. 

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as producer for Lake Effect. Most recently, she was a director and producer for The Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm, Chicago Public Radio.