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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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McClintock Park Murderer Gets Two Life Sentences

Issue Date: September 2, 2021

"We don't often have the opportunity to see and hear how much harm one person can do to another," Judge James Morrison declared in Marinette County Circuit Court Branch 2 on Thursday, Aug. 26 ordering the maximum possible sentence for Raymand Vannieuwenhoven - two consecutive life terms in prison.

The sentence almost certainly means Vannieuwenhoven, now 84, will spend the rest of his life in prison, since he will not begin serving the second term until he is eligible for parole on the first one.

Judge Morrison noted it had taken the jury less than two hours of deliberations before finding Vannieuwenhoven guilty of First Degree Murder in the shooting deaths of a young Green Bay couple - David Schuldes and Ellen Matheys while they were on a camping trip to Marinette County's McClintock Park 45 years ago - on July 9, 1976. Schuldes was 26 at the time. Matheys was 24. Vannieuwenhoven, now 84, was 39 at the time.

Matheys was raped before she was murdered. Newly developed DNA techniques tied Vannieuwenhoven to the crime and led to his arrest, but he could not be charged with rape due to a statute of limitations law. The jury trial lasted just seven days, ending on Tuesday, July 27.

"I don't believe Mr. Vannieuwenhoven even knew these two young people," Morrison declared. He described the crimes as "senseless...awful...horrific..idiotic...unspeakable...unfathomable...I do not even have words to even describe the gravity of this!"

He spoke of the horror of Matheys being raped after watching her fiancé being shot to death, and then struggling to get her clothes back on before she too was shot to death.

"The first story in the Bible was Cain and Abel...the senseless murder of one brother by another," Morrison declared, and added the acts of Vannieuwenhoven were "...evil, damaging in every respect...If there were a scale of one to ten, this would be 100!"

District Attorney DeShea Morrow had asked the judge to order the consecutive sentences. Defense Attorney Travis Crowell had asked for concurrent sentences.

Considering Vannieuwenhoven's age, rehabilitation is utterly impossible, so it was not being considered, Judge Morrison said, and added, "...the saving of his soul is between him and his Creator."

Judge Morrison declared the main duty of the court is to protect the public, and this conviction after so many years might serve as a warning to others. He noted Vannieuwenhoven had been able to hide in plain sight for 43 years, but was now convicted, and said a severe sentence in this case might serve notice to others that ..."you never stop looking over your shoulder.... You are never safe when you've done something so evil... The public needs to know that!"

He praised Marinette County Sheriff's Department for its continuing efforts over the decades to find the person guilty of the murders, particularly Detective Todd Baldwin, who was lead person who worked with Sheriff Jerry Sauve to utilize the DNA techniques developed by Parabon Labs that led to identification of Vannieuwenhoven.

There had been no restitution request from the families of the victims, but in addition to the prison terms Judge Morrison ordered fines of $1,000 plus costs on each of the two counts, and was given credit for the 897 days he has already spent in jail.

Vannieuwenhoven himself was the last person to address the judge before sentence was pronounced. He had sat silent in his wheelchair throughout the proceedings, attended by two jail guards, and was advised by Judge Morrison that he could speak before being sentenced but did not have to.

He did want to speak, and began with a loud declaration that "This whole d---thing has been rigged, right from the get-go before they put me in that jail"" before continuing with a rambling and somewhat incoherent statement that appeared to be an attempt to accuse the District Attorney of some wrongdoing, and ended with... "This whole works is hogwash..."

However, other than that, Vannieuwenhoven sat silent during the sentencing as he had during the entire trial proceedings except when addressed.

The courtroom was filled for the sentencing. Many family members of the two victims were wearing matching T-shirts with photos of the young couple, who had planed to be married in September of 1976.

In the intervening years Vannieuwenhoven had married and raised a family, and several of his children and grandchildren had been present for court proceedings, and one of his daughters spoke before the sentence was pronounced.

Morrison praised all members of both families for their behavior in the courtroom, and the respect they had shown for each other. He cautioned against any outbursts during or after the sentencing.

He praised Defense Attorneys Travis Crowell and Lee Schuchart for their "vigorous, serious and thoughtful" handling of the defense of a sometimes difficult client; District Attorney Morrow and her staff for her efforts, and Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve and his staff for providing security for the proceedings and for their efforts that led to resolution of the case.

Morrow and Crowell agreed that based on the laws in effect in 1976 when the crimes occurred, and the jury findings of guilty on two counts of First Degree murder, the only choices for Judge Morrison were between consecutive or concurrent sentences for each of the two counts.

Morrison said he had had received written victim impact statements and letters from six individuals in regard to the sentencing, and four people asked to address the court.

First to speak was Schuldes' sister, JoAnne Mikulski, who described reactions of their mother and the rest of the family when they learned that David and Ellie had been killed. She said they had been eager to welcome Ellie into their family, and their mother, now 93, had told her it would not be over for her until the person who did it was in prison. "We all now can finally get some peace," she said.

Cindy Chezak, a niece of Ellen Matheys, said their lives were changed and shattered forever when the two were killed. She said she was very young when it happened, but remembered seeing "tears that I felt would never stop." She told of volunteer work her aunt had done, and declared, "I cannot even imagine the torture that Ellie went through in her last few hours on this Earth!" She said she was glad when Vannieuwenhoven was arrested, but prayed for his family because she knew they would suffer.

LoRayne Smith, another niece of Matheys' said the killings happened when she was 13. "I, as well as so many others, had a special connection with Ellie. One of my fondest memories of her was the time when she came for a visit after one of her college classes. she was telling of an algebra problem her class was struggling with. I was intrigued so she got her book from her car. I did the problem and she made me feel like the most intelligent person in the world. I think often if she'd been able to live her life, how great of a mother she would have been.

"I remember the day my mother received "the call'. She fell to the floor. I couldn't grasp what was happening. I was in shock. The next few days were a blur. I remember her funeral. How could I not? We buried her on my golden birthday. Birthdays after that were never the same.

Smith said she had been in Girl Scouts for years and would go up to the scout leader's cabin every summer, but this stopped the summer of 1976. "It took many years before I felt comfortable enough to go camping again. I think in total, I've gone camping three times since 1976," she said.

Smith said she used to walk the Fox River Trail in Green Bay almost every day in the spring, summer and fall, until the day in 2019 when the defendant was arrested. "One part of the trail is a pretty wooded area, and when I came up to the dense area, all the memories and flashes came back. I freaked out. I was reliving Ellie's and Dave's murders all over again. I have yet to walk in that area and I probably never will again."

Also in 2019 she had to pick up a granddaughter who had been camping with some friends. "While she was packing up her stuff, I saw a bench so I sat down. Looking into the woods, that eerie creepy feeling came back and again I panicked thinking of Ellie and Dave and what has happened. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to enjoy nature like I used to."

"Nature was my comforter normally. Now it's a reminder of an act so horrific and terrifying that 45 years later still impacts me. I have dealt with depression and sleep issues my entire life," Smith went on. She said she has two daughters and this crime has had a ripple effect down to them. "I am a strict and over protective mother and grandmother. I would never let my girls go camping when they were young. Now as adults they go camping and I worry the entire time they are gone."

"Could this be from the events that happened in ඔ?" Smith asked, and continued, "I think so. Everything that happens to a person creates who they become. I fight these bad memories often and deeply. The defendant will face the highest judge one day. For now, Judge Morrison, I ask for the toughest, maximum sentence by law be handed down to Ellie and Dave's murderer."

Lynn Baumgartner, Ellie's best friend said she heard about the shootings on her car radio while she was driving. "Their deaths left a hole in my life for 45 years, and that was your fault!" she told Vannieuwenhoven. "I hope you live many years locked up!" She said even after all these years she is unable to sleep with her windows open. She is angry over the bizarre nightmares the murders caused her, and for the happy ending that was denied her friends.

She thanked the investigators who never gave up during 45 years, who knew enough to save the DNA at the time, long before they were able to use it, and then Sheriff Jerry Sauve, "for making the bold move of sending the DNA to Parabon labs."

Morrow asked for the maximum sentence, describing the acts as "cold, vicious and brazen," and described the horror for Matheys to see David get shot, being raped while knowing what was coming to her, then being given false hope by being allowed to put her clothes back on, and then being shot three times, first in the abdomen while putting her shirt back on.

Morrow said Vannieuwenhoven had grabbed a young girl in a Green Bay park in 1967, but she jumped out of her car and got way from him, and had attempted to grab another young girl in Little Suamico.

"Mr. Vannieuwenhoven lived his life, and had children," Morrow said, but he was gone from his home Monday through Friday. She said he had shown no remorse through the entire investigation.

Crowell said no one from Vannieuwenhoven's family had asked to speak, but his youngest daughter, Dorothy Vannieuwenhoven, said she shad been advised by the state not to read her statement, but was going to do so anyway. She said DNA was the entire case against her father, and it hasn't proven a thing. "Even if it wasn't my father sitting in that chair, I would think that you had the wrong man," she declared.

She said on his 82nd birthday her Dad was her date for the night, and they had created some happy memories. "Then, the next thing I knew two officers were at my door"I was numb with disbelief."

Dorothy told her father she and other family members were told they could not see him after the arrest, and then finally learned it was him who did not want to see them, ""and that hurt!"

She said she would not believe her father had done those horrible things, and only he knows what happened. She concluded, "You are my Dad. You always will be my dad. I love you and I always will love you!"

Crowell said Vannieuwenhoven had been an excellent worker who provided for his wife and family He was a volunteer firefighter and an asset to the community. He is now 84 years old, in very poor heath, requires constant medical attention, and presents "zero risk to the community."

In his sentencing, Judge Morrison said he wouldn't care to take a chance on a risk to the community, but noted a severe sentence in this case could serve as a warning to other offenders that eventually they could be found out and punished.

After court was dismissed families of the victims were taken to the District Attorney's conference room, and then returned to talk with reporters.

Morrow commented, "It's all about the family"You heard what they went through for 43 years"I'm very well satisfied with the outcome and all the hard work that went into it, and the families are very well satisfied." She said she is grateful that the families of the victims can now hopefully get closure and finality, and expressed gratitude to law enforcement staff and staff in her office who worked so hard on all this.

"Now the healing begins," declared one of the family members.

Vannieuwenhoven was to be taken from the Marinette County Jail to his new residence in state prison.


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