MARINETTE (NBC 26) — Friends and several law enforcement officials took the stand Tuesday inside the Marinette County Court House to testify in a 45-year-old double homicide trial.
“She was like the sister I never had," Lynn Baumgartner of Green Bay said.
Baumgartner became good friends with Ellen Matheys when the two were in the ninth grade. She described Matheys as reserved, intelligent and soft-spoken.
On July 9, 1976, Baumgartner found out her friend was murdered while listening to the radio.
“I just started screaming and crying and we turned off the radio," Baumgartner said. "It was tough. It was awful.”
Raymond Vanneiwenhoven, 84, is accused of shooting and killing Ellen Matheys, 24, and her fiance, David Schuldes, 25, while the couple was camping at McClintock Park. Matheys was sexually assaulted then shot twice in the chest. Schuldes was shot in the neck and died instantly.
- Arrest in 43-year-old murder case stuns Wisconsin town
- Trial underway for Wisconsin man accused in 1976 double murder case
Steve Mommaerts of Green Bay said the couple previously asked him and his wife to join them on the camping trip. Mommaerts said they decided not to attend.
Mommaerts and Schuldes became friends around the ninth grade. They later attended UWGB together, until Schuldes left college. That's when Mommaerts helped his friend get a job in the mailroom of the Green Bay Press-Gazette where he also worked.
They had dinner together about two weeks before Matheys and Schuldes died. Mommaerts said the couple told him and his wife they planned to get married.
“They both seemed so calm, and so happy, and so peaceful…and that was the last time I saw them," Mommaerts said.
One of the people that found Schuldes' body also testified Tuesday.
Lance Timper had been working as a police officer for the Marinette Police Department just six months when the incident occurred. He and his girlfriend were visiting parks in the area on July 9, 1976. Timper said they pulled over to pick blueberries when he heard a "single rifle shot."
Although it was strange for that time of year, Timper said he didn't think anything of it. He said the pair drove on to McClintock Park and stopped to get water. The park's caretaker asked if Timper could assist him in checking on a man lying by the restroom.
“There was a man lying on the ground," Timper said. "There was blood dripping out of his nose. There was blood underneath him. His face was turning blue. His hands were turning blue.”
Timper said the park's caretaker went to Goodman Park to call the police while he blocked off the area and checked the perimeter.
Constance Winchell, from Crivitz, was a dispatcher for the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office in 1976. According to a copy of the time card she used, Winchell testified they received a call about a man bleeding at McClintock Park at 2:53 p.m. A rescue squad responded shortly after.
James Jurue, a retired deputy sheriff with Marinette County, said he was one of the first law enforcement officials to arrive on scene a little after 4 p.m. He said they called for the investigator, who arrived at 6 p.m. Jurue said they later identified David Schuldes.
When questioned by the defense, Jurue said they didn't find any shell casings, alcohol cans or bottles, or the weapon.
The search continued for a missing woman. Robert Kohlman, a retired chief deputy with Marinette County, said he arrived at the crime scene the next day and called the crime lab to process the scene.
“There was enough evidence that the crime lab should be called," Kohlman said. "There was a dead body and the crime scene.”
Kohlman said they found Mathey's body in a wooded area a few hundred feet from where her fiance's body was found. Based on the state of her body, Kohlman said they assumed she was also sexually assaulted.
The defense presented a document Kohlman signed in 1980 that gave the crime lab permission to destroy evidence pertaining to the case, such as hand, mouth, and vaginal swabs, as well as blood samples. Kohlman said investigators no longer needed that specific evidence.
Prosecutors previously said they used DNA and genetic genealogy to connect Vannieuwenhoven to the killings in 2018.
Vannieuwenhoven pleaded not guilty to the homicides in July 2019.
He's currently facing two counts of first-degree murder. The former sexual assault charge was dismissed Monday because the statute of limitations expired.