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Opening statements made in Grand Chute cold case homicide trial

Posted at 10:42 AM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 18:57:26-04

APPLETON (NBC 26) — It was an emotional day in court as the first witnesses take the stand in a case that went cold for decades.

  • State of Wisconsin vs. Gene Meyer started the day with opening statements
  • Rolf's son, a former coworker, a crime lab analyst, and a pathologist were the first to take the stand

"So for the next 10 days, you'll get to know Betty Rolf as a person."
In opening remarks, prosecutor Melinda Tempelis highlighted how long Betty Rolf's murder has gone unsolved.

"12,972 days. That's 35 years, 6 months, and 7 days. "

68-year-old Gene Meyer is charged with first degree sexual assault and first degree intentional homicide for Rolf's death in 1988.

Prosecutors say on November 6th that year, she was walking to work in Grand Chute but never made it.

Her body was found the next day under a bridge along Spencer St. An autopsy report shows she was beaten and strangled.

Investigators say at the time, Meyer lived about a mile away.

According to Tempelis, advancement in DNA testing, along with new DNA evidence now proves Meyer killed Rolf.

However, in his opening, defense attorney Ian Mevis said the DNA only suggests the two had sex.

"It shows that they had sexual contact in some point in time. Maybe within even a week or so. The state wants you to think the DNA is the proverbial smoking gun here."

Rolf's daugther, Sheila Wurm was the first on the stand.

Tempelis was the first to question her.

"Exhibit two is on the screen...can you tell me who that is?" asked Tempelis.

"My mom and dad," replied Wurm.

"Can you tell us when this photo was taken?" asked Tempelis.

"On their wedding day," she replied.

The defense argued it was not Meyer, but betty's husband Charles Rolf who killed her.

He died in 1999.

"Do you remember in 1991, telling those investigators that you wish your father had reached out to them sooner?" Mevis asked Wurm.

"I might have said that, I don't know," Wurm replied. "So many things were said back then it was so long ago."

Rolf's son, a former coworker, a crime lab analyst, and a pathologist also testified.

Testimony will continue on Wednesday. The Meyer trial is expected to last two weeks.

The article will be updated as the trial continues. Follow our previous coverage of the trial through this link:

Jury seated in 35-year-old cold case homicide trial