Complaint filed in decades-old murder case

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Vannieuwenhoven to make first court appearance Friday
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com


Raymand Vannieuwenhoven

The man arrested last week after DNA tests linked him to a 1976 double homicide is scheduled to make his first appearance in Marinette County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon.

Raymand L. Vannieuwenhoven, 82, was taken into custody March 14 as Marinette and Oconto county deputies executed a search warrant at his home in the town of Lakewood. Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Thursday charging him with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree sexual assault in the deaths of David Schuldes, 25, and Ellen Matheys, 24, of Green Bay.

The defendant is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. before Judge James Morrison.

According to the complaint, the couple left their homes on the morning of July 9, 1976, for a camping weekend. They were seen driving through Goodman Park in Marinette County, but that campground was already full, so they headed south to McClintock Park, which was empty, and set up their camping materials there.

Schuldes and Matheys then apparently went for a nature walk. Investigators concluded that Schuldes was shot in the neck with a .30 caliber firearm while waiting outside the women’s restroom while Matheys was inside, the complaint said. He died instantly.

Matheys either ran or was led to a wooded area nearby, where she was sexually assaulted, then shot twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen. Schuldes’ body was found a short time later by a park worker, and Matheys’ body was found the next day.

The case remained unsolved for more than four decades, but authorities had carefully preserved DNA evidence found inside the woman’s body and her shorts.

In March 2018, the county enlisted the help of Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia firm that uses DNA and genealogical research to identify suspects. Within three months, Parabon told lead detective Todd Baldwin that “the suspect’s DNA had ancestry mainly from the northern European area. The suspect has fair to very fair skin color, blue eyes, reddish brown hair color, and some or few freckles,” the complaint said.

Based on its research Parabon was also able to provide images of what the suspect may have looked like at age 25 and 65, which were widely circulated last summer.

By December, further research narrowed the list of possible suspects all the way down to the sons and grandsons of Gladys Brunette and Edward K. Vannieuwenhoven, a Green Bay area family, the complaint said.

Detectives surreptitiously gathered DNA samples from two of the men in January and February. A State Crime Lab analysis ruled both men out but found their Y-STR DNA — DNA from the short tandem repeats from the Y chromosome — indicated another male in the family was the likely culprit.

On March 6, Oconto County Chief Deputy Darren Laskowski came to Raymand Vannieuwenhoven’s home and asked if he would fill out a short survey about policing in the various townships, further asking him to seal the completed survey in an envelope.

The crime lab was able to develop a DNA profile from the saliva on the envelope and conclusively match it to the Lakewood man, the complaint said.

When deputies arrested the defendant and search his homes, they confiscated a 30-30 lever-action rifle from his garage and a box of shell casings from a shelf above the washer-dryer, according to the complaint.