Appeal for 1976 murder trial in Wisconsin will proceed despite the death of the convicted murderer

Even though the man convicted of the 1976 murders of a young couple in Wisconsin has died in prison, an appeal of his conviction continues to make its way through the courts.

Raymand Vannieuwenhoven’s attorneys are attempting to overturn his conviction by contesting how detectives got his DNA, which was used to crack a cold case.

The detectives got a piece of Vannieuwenhoven’s DNA from an envelope that he licked while filling out a fake police performance evaluation.

Vannieuwenhoven, who was 85 years old, passed away in June at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution. Last year, he was convicted of fatally shooting David Schuldes, 25, and Ellen Matheys, 24, at a Marinette County park on July 9, 1976, in Silver Cliff.

In a brief submitted in support of the appeal on Friday, attorney Ana Babcock said that Vannieuwenhoven had a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding his DNA.

“While the law does tolerate some deceit on behalf of the police (e.g., police can sometimes make misrepresentations during an interrogation), trickery has no place when it comes to voluntary consent,” Babcock wrote.

For decades, the widower and father of five children lived among the 800 people of Lakewood, a tiny hamlet in northern Wisconsin surrounded by woods and small lakes.

The cold case was reopened in 2019 after a DNA sample found at the crime site was identified as belonging to a certain family. According to the criminal complaint, Vannieuwenhoven’s DNA was not found in samples from his siblings, but it was in a sample from the envelope.

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