Bond set at $1 million in 1976 double murder

82-year-old Lakewood man proclaims innocence
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com


Raymand Vannieuwenhoven appears via a video link from the Marinette County Jail during his initial appearance in court Friday. He is charged with the 1976 murders of a Green Bay couple at the McClintock Park campground. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

A Marinette County judge set bail at $1 million cash Friday for the man accused of killing a Green Bay couple in July 1976.

Raymand L. Vannieuwenhoven, 82, was 39 years old and living in Suamico when David Schuldes, 25, and Ellen Matheys, 24, were shot to death at the McClintock Park campground in the town of Silver Cliff. Matheys was also sexually assaulted.

His criminal record had been clear for nearly 60 years until modern forensic technology matched evidence collected in 1976 to his DNA profile, and he was arrested March 14 at his home in Lakewood.

District Attorney Deshea Morrow asked Judge James Morrison for the high bond because of the seriousness of the crime.

”These are brazen crimes that occurred at midday in a county park in Marinette County,” Morrow said. “Up until this month, there had not been an unidentifiable suspect. We now have an identified defendant, and I do think that there is a very great flight risk because of the greatness of the potential penalties.”

Morrow added that although her office has not been able to find a history of criminal convictions, Vannieuwenhoven was arrested in 1957 in Green Bay for an assault on two females, and in 1960 he was arrested for “fugitive non-support.” Court records are incomplete regarding the disposition of those charges.

”The allegations in this case could not be more serious; the potential consequences could not be more significant,” Morrison said in granting the bail request.

Vannieuwenhoven appeared in court without an attorney, and his daughter, Susie Helms, explained to the judge that she has not yet been able to find an attorney willing to take on the case. The State Public Defender’s Office has already concluded that he does not qualify for its assistance.

“I just want you to understand that there’s nothing your father faces today that could be as conceivably important as he getting a lawyer to assist him in this case,” Morrison said.

Earlier, when the judge asked Vannieuwenhoven if he understood he faced two life sentences plus up to 15 years in prison if convicted of all three crimes, the defendant replied, “Not guilty, not guilty and not guilty.”

“I’m not asking you, sir, to enter pleas. I’m asking you if you understand the maximum potential consequences that you’re facing,” Morrison said.

“I understand, yeah,” he replied.

The judge read the three counts, and Vannieuwenhoven appeared to shake his head slightly when Morrison read the first-degree sexual assault charge.

Morrison adjourned the initial court appearance until 2 p.m. April 30 – or sooner if Vannieuwenhoven is able to hire an attorney before then.

Name changes

Newspaper.com archives reveal that Lawrence R. Vannieuwenhoven, 20, of Green Bay, was arrested in November 1957 after two teenage girls reported attempted assaults and described the car that the suspect was driving. After a judge held a hearing and declared the defendant “not mentally ill,” the young man pleaded guilty in Green Bay Municipal Court and was sentenced to six months in jail, plus a $200 fine for battery and driving with a suspended license.

Listed under the name Lawrence in the 1940 U.S. Census, when he was 3 years old, he was going by the name Raymond L. Vannieuwenhoven in 1960 when he pleaded guilty to non-support and was placed on one year of probation on the condition he make regular payments to his wife and child. The couple reconciled and had celebrated their 50th anniversary shortly before her death in 2008.

His record remained clear until last March, when he was ticketed for speeding in Oconto County as Raymand Vannieuwenhoven, the spelling that appears on the complaint charging him with the deaths of Schuldes and Matheys.

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.

Lab search

In March 2018, the county enlisted the help of Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia firm that uses DNA and genealogical research to identify crime 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 searched his home, 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.