Judge: DNA evidence in 1976 murders can be used
MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) — A Marinette County judge has ruled prosecutors can use DNA evidence collected through a phony police survey in the case against a man accused of killing a young couple in a county park more than four decades ago.
Raymand Vannieuwenhoven, 84, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 25-year-old David Schuldes and 24-year-old Ellen Matheys.
The two were found fatally shot at McClintock Park in Silver Cliff on July 9, 1976. Vannieuwenhoven would have been 39 in 1976.
According to the criminal complaint, Schuldes was fatally shot through the neck with a .30-caliber firearm as he waited for Matheys outside a bathroom. The shooter then either ordered or chased Matheys into a nearby wooded area, where she was sexually assaulted and, after being allowed to put some of her clothing back on, shot in the chest and abdomen, authorities claimed.
Though the case went cold, Marinette County detectives continued to have DNA from semen left in Matheys’ shorts periodically analyzed to see if a possible match might surface, according to the criminal complaint.
The case was revived in 2019 after a DNA sample submitted to Virginia-based Parabon Nanolabs was determined to be from a particular family with ties to the Green Bay, Wis., area, the complaint stated. Samples tested from Vannieuwenhoven’s brothers weren’t a match, but a sample from him — then a widower living in Lakewood, Wis. — obtained from a licked envelope for a survey on police performance did produce a match.
Defense attorney Lee Schuchart asked for the DNA sample to be thrown out, arguing Vannieuwenhoven’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated because police didn’t have a warrant and lied to him about the purpose of the survey and envelope, WLUK-TV reported.
But District Attorney DeShea Morrow noted there was no coercion, Vannieuwenhoven voluntarily cooperated with the law enforcement and he lost any control after turning over the envelope.
In court Friday, Judge James Morrison said the evidence can be used.
Morrison in November declared Vannieuwenhoven competent to stand trial, after ruling in March 2020 that Vannieuwenhoven did not understand the proceedings and could not assist in his own defense. He was sent to Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison to undergo inpatient treatment.