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McClintock Park Murder Suspect To Face Trial

Issue Date: June 27, 2019

At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, June 19, Marinette County Circuit Court Judge James A. Morrison ruled that sufficient evidence exists to bring Raymand L. Vannieuwenhoven to trial for a double murder that occurred in or adjacent to McClintock Park nearly four decades ago, on July 9, 1976. Vannieuwenhoven, now 82, will be arraigned in before Judge Morrison at 10:30 a.m on Monday, July 1.

Vannieuwenhoven was arrested on March 14 of this year at his home at 17043 Remus Lane in the Oconto County Town of Lakewood. He has been held in Marinette County Jail since then. Formal charges against him were filed by District Attorney DeShea Morrow on March 21 and since then he has been held on $1 million cash bond. If convicted he faces life in prison on each of the two charges.

He initially was charged with two counts of first degree murder and one count of first-degree sexual assault, but due to statutes of limitations the sexual assault was later dismissed with agreement from Morrow after objections were raised by defense counsel.

Judge Morrison ruled at the May 20 motions hearing when the sexual assault count was dismissed that the DNA evidence would be considered at the preliminary hearing and declared, "the court can certainly consider evidence at the preliminary that the defendant committed sexual assault on the victim...which is now we got the evidence."

Vannieuwenhoven is to face trial for the shooting deaths of Green Bay couple - David Schuldes, who was 25 at the time, and his fiancé, Ellen Matheys, who was 24, on July 9, 1976. Matheys had been raped before she was shot.

According to information presented by Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve at press conferences connected with the case, DNA collected from Mathys shorts by investigators at the time of the initial murder investigation had been carefully and correctly preserved through the intervening years.

Decades later, after new DNA technology became available, Sauve re-opened the cold case and hired Parabon Nanolabs of Virginia to help solve it. The company is able to phenotype DNA and identify ancestry and predict physical appearance of the person the DNA came from.

The quest led to Vannieuwenhoven, who was located and identified with the help of Oconto County Sheriff's Department.

During the June 19 preliminary hearing the courtroom was packed with Vannieuwenhoven family members and families of the victims. Vannieuwenhoven was present in person, shackled and clad in the orange jail uniform. He was provided with a device to help him hear the proceedings.

Prosecution was led by Morrow. Defense attorneys were Travis Cowell and Lee Schuchart.

Morrow called two witnesses for the hearing which lasted an hour and a half. They were Detective Todd Baldwin of Marinette County Sheriff's Department and Oconto County Chief Deputy Daren Laskowski, who was key to obtaining the DNA evidence from Vannieuwenhoven that led to his arrest.

Baldwin testified for nearly an hour, giving a background of the case dating back to 1976 when Detective Craig Bates was able to send DNA samples to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab to generate a DNA profile.

Baldwin, who became Marinette county Sheriff's Department officer in 2001, testified that there were hundreds of suspects, but said no serious headway was made until last year, when he and the Sheriff's Office began working with Parabon Nanolabs.

An expert there was able to bring the suspect pool down to a specific family, identified as that of Gladys M. Brunette and Edward K. Vannieuwenhoven. She predicted the DNA match would be one of their four sons or one of their grandchildren. Raymand Vannieuwenhoven is one of their sons.

On March 6 DNR was obtained from Raymand Vannieuwenhoven by Laskowski and sent to the State Crime Lab, which declared a match between that and the semen found on Matheys' shorts so many years before.

Laskowski testified he had obtained current DNA from Vannieuwenhoven by going to his home and posing as a person doing a survey on police patrol in area towns. After Vannieuwenhoven answered the survey questions he had him seal the envelope by licking it, and then brought the envelope to Baldwin, who was waiting in a vehicle nearby. Baldwin then sent the DNA evidence to the State Crime Lab and it matched.

Morrow summarized that the matching DNA evidence made Vannieuwenhoven a very strong suspect in the double murders.

Schuchart argued that the state was glossing over the fact that the only piece of evidence they had of Vannieuwenhoven being at the scene was found inside Matheys' shorts, and there was no connection shown between that and either of the shootings. He maintained there was no strong evidence of a sexual assault, no murder weapon, no eye witnesses of his presence in the park. He said the suspect could have been "engaged" with Matheys days before her shooting death.

Morrison ruled that there was probable cause that a sexual assault occurred, and declared it was clear to him that the state had more than met its burden of establishing probable cause that at lease one felony, the murder of Ms. Matheys, and very likely the murder of Mr. Schuldes, occurred in Marinette County and that Vannieuwenhoven committed the crimes.

He then scheduled the arraignment for 10 a.m. on Monday, July 1.


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