DNA connects 82-year-old man as suspect to murder of Wisconsin couple 43 years ago

DNA connects 82-year-old man as suspect to murder of Wisconsin couple 43 years ago

An 82-year-old "helpful handyman" was arrested in relation to the cold case murders of a Wisconsin couple on a camping trip 43 years ago with the help of his DNA. The elderly man, identified as Raymond Vannieuwenhoven, has been imprisoned in lieu of bond after he was charged for fatally shooting 25-year-old David Schuldes and 24-year-old Ellen Matheys in a park north of Green Bay on July 9, 1976. Reports state that Vannieuwenhoven has also been charged with raping Matheys.

Authorities, after Vannieuwenhoven's arrest, appealed to the public for information about a 62-year-old case in which he was charged with assaulting two girls, aged 16 and 17, in unprovoked incidents, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.  Vannieuwenhoven was reportedly sentenced to six months in prison for both crimes. 

Vannieuwenhoven's arrest in March 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. Reports state that deputies had obtained the 82-year-old's DNA after going to his home and asking him to fill out a brief survey on area policing. Vannieuwenhoven, at the officers' instruction, put the survey in an envelope and sealed it with his tongue, providing access to his DNA.

The elderly man's arrest shocked his neighbors in the town of Lakewood. One of the neighbors, Wayne Sankey recalled: "I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me.' And then I told the wife and she couldn't believe it. 'There’s no way', she said. 'Ray down the road?'" the Associated Press reported.

The neighbors also said that all they knew of Vannieuwenhoven was that he had been a nasty drunk. Fred Mason, a 66-year-old worker at the town dump where Vannieuwenhoven would rummage through scrap piles for small engine parts, said: "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."

Parabon Labs have said that since May 18, they have identified 55 suspects in cold cases through genetic genealogy analysis of crime scene DNA uploaded to GEDMatch. Vannieuwenhoven has reportedly pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to be in court on June 19. 

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