The cold case murders of a Wisconsin couple on a camping trip 43 years ago has led to the arrest through DNA of an 82-year-old “helpful handyman,” according to a report.
Raymond Vannieuwenhoven has been jailed in lieu of bond after being charged with fatally shooting David Schuldes, 25, and Ellen Matheys, 24, in a park 80 miles north of Green Bay on July 9, 1976. He has also been charged with raping Matheys.
The arrest in March shocked his neighbors in the tiny town of Lakewood, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
“I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” Wayne Sankey recalled. “And then I told the wife and she couldn’t believe it. ‘There’s no way,’ she said. ‘Ray down the road?’”
They said they knew he had been a nasty drunk but that was about all they knew.
“I know this much — when he was drinking he was one son of a b----. You didn’t want to be anywhere near him when he was drinking. Not just me, a lot of people,” said Fred Mason, 66, a worker at the town dump where Vannieuwenhoven would rummage through scrap piles for small engine parts.
After Vannieuwenhoven's arrest authorities appealed to the public for information about a 62-year-old case in which he was charged with assaulting two girls, 16 and 17, in unprovoked incidents. He was sentenced to six months in prison for both crimes, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.
The March arrest came after Parabon Labs in Virginia found a family connection in the Green Bay area after uploading DNA from the crime scene to the public genealogy website GEDMatch.
Deputies then obtained DNA from Vannieuwenhoven after going to his home and asking him to fill out a brief survey on area policing. At their instruction, he put the survey in an envelope and sealed it with his tongue.
Investigators said his DNA profile connected him to the murders.
Vannieuwenhoven has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court June 19.
Parabon says they have identified 55 suspects in cold cases since May 2018 through genetic genealogy analysis of crime scene DNA uploaded to GEDMatch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.