DNA Arrest of 82-Year-Old Leaves Town in Shock

Ray Vannieuwenhoven is accused in a 1976 double murder
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2019 2:00 PM CDT
DNA Arrest of 82-Year-Old Leaves Town in Shock
In this 1976 police sketch provided by the Marinette County Sheriff's Office is the initial police sketch of a suspect shortly after the 1976 murders of David Schuldes and Ellen Matheys.   (Marinette County Sheriff via AP)

All it took was a licked envelope, and Wisconsin police arrested 82-year-old handyman Ray Vannieuwenhoven for allegedly murdering a young couple on a camping trip in 1976—but some people are struggling to believe it, the AP reports. "I said, 'You gotta be kidding me,'" said one of Vannieuwenhoven's neighbors in the Wisconsin town of Lakewood. "And then I told the wife and she couldn't believe it. 'There's no way,' she said. 'Ray down the road?'" But Vannieuwenhoven has been charged with the deaths of David Schuldes and Ellen Matheys, who were engaged to be married when Schuldes got shot in the neck with a .30-caliber rifle and Matheys was raped and shot twice in the chest at a Wisconsin camp ground. Investigators were baffled, but semen was kept from the crime scene.

The semen was analyzed by a lab that can match results to samples from genealogy websites—a technique that has helped identify 55 police suspects, including the Golden State Killer. Vannieuwenhoven's two brothers were eliminated based on DNA samples taken from from the trash and a coffee cup, so sheriff's deputies visited Vannieuwenhoven on March 6 and asked him to fill out and mail in a form on area policing; the saliva on the envelope led to his arrest eight days later. He has pleaded not guilty but does have a history of alleged violence against teenage girls in the 1950s, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported last month. And some say he gets nasty when he drinks. Now, it's all about the trial: His bond is set at $1 million and he's slated to appear in court on June 19. (Read more murder stories.)

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