The Green Bay Northwoods Killings — Ch 18
Chapter 18: How do these questions get answered?
At this point in our story, we’ve amassed quite a list of unsolved crimes for which Ray Vannieuwenhoven could be a potential perpetrator. Let’s take a look at what we have:
1972: Cynthia Allen murdered near Grover. Stabbed. Unsolved. Ray Vannieuwenhoven possible perpetrator.
1975: Mrs. Pat Wisniewski Murdered by shotgun near Amberg. Unsolved. Ray Vannieuwenhoven potential perpetrator.
1976: David Schuldes and Ellen Matheys murdered by rifle. Ray Vannieuwenhoven. Convicted, 2021.
March 12, 1977 (approx): Reported rape by Badgeman in Marinette County. Unsolved.
March 14, 1977: De Pere woman raped by Badgeman in her home. Unsolved.
March 16, 1977: Olive Cunningham and Vera Zimmer robbery and possible attempted rape by Badgeman in Appleton. Unsolved.
Aug/Sep, 1979: Two indigenous women murdered near Amberg. Shot in their heads. Unsolved. Ray Vannieuwenhoven potential perpetrator.
Nov. 30, 1988: Edward and Frances Cizauskas murdered at Jalopy Jungle, in Town of Sheboygan. Victims bludgeoned and stabbed. Unsolved. Ray Vannieuwenhoven potential perpetrator.
Nov. 16, 1991: Ann and Ceil Cadigan murdered in their rural Casco home, in the Green Bay metro. Victims bludgeoned and stabbed. Unsolved. Ray Vannieuwenhoven potential perpetrator.
Ray Vannieuwenhoven killed David and Ellen in 1976. He was convicted of it and singled-out by DNA. So, if we know Ray Vanniuewenhoven was a murderer, where do you put the odds that David and Ellen were the only people he ever killed? Hypothetically, if serial killers don’t willingly stop killing (most of the time) then Ray Vannieuwenhoven would have had a long time as a free man to continue his murderous career.
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Were there times between 1976 and his arrest in 2019 when he felt untouchable? Did he ever think he was smarter than the law? Like he couldn’t be caught?
I got away with it before, and I’ll get away with it again.
Was it in those arrogant, psychopathic moments of reflection when the killer decided to kill again — to murder someone helpless, for a perceived sleight, or maybe for no reason at all?
You can imagine it, right?
A murder just down the road from where Ray’s son-in-law used to live in Sheboygan.
Three murders within 20 minutes of the home where Ray would later retire.
Rapes in DePere and Appleton that, according to police, match the M.O. of an assault in Marinette County — Ray’s stomping ground.
Four elderly people bludgeoned and stabbed to death in two separate incidents years apart, but with a similar M.O. And DNA was left at at least one of those scenes.
How Do We Find Out?
Can we find out for sure if Ray Vanniuewenhoven was responsible for these crimes? Yes, of course we can. Why haven’t we already? The answer is simple — money and resources.
Let’s think about it.
Ray’s DNA profile is developed and just waiting in a file. All the work on Ray’s end has already been done. All investigators need to do is test the physical evidence in these unsolved cases against Ray’s DNA to see if it’s a match.
That’s it. Really. Just test it, and see if it’s a match.
This is the part where, if it was really that simple, you would stand up and yell, “Hey! Get your ass out of that chair and go down the hall to the evidence locker and get the evidence and test it!”
Of course, it’s not that easy. There are challenges.
Is there any physical evidence still to test in the Cynthia Allen case? If there’s clothing with bodily fluid evidence, it’s been sitting in a small-town evidence locker since 1972 and there’s no telling how degraded it might be. They have recovered DNA profiles from older samples, however, so if there is DNA, they should be able to get it.
Mrs. Pat Wisneiwski was shot through her screen door, murdered ten miles from where David and Ellen would be murdered by Ray ten months later. Was a shell casing found at the Wisniewski vacation home? Something the killer touched? Is there anything from which DNA can be recovered?
Was DNA recovered from a perpetrator in the Jalopy Jungle murders? The press made it seem like the salvage yard-nature of the business made it difficult to recover physical evidence. If there is DNA evidence, it should be tested against Ray Vannieuwenhoven. The same goes for the Cadigan sisters. Investigators have a DNA profile for the perpetrator. Simply put, they just need to test it against Ray Vanniuwenhoven.
It is my opinion that, if DNA evidence exists for the crimes I’ve listed here, the only obstacle to getting some answers is having the will.
Where Do We Go from Here?
As far as I can tell, I’m the only person who has proposed Ray could be responsible for these crimes. So unless they’re keeping an investigation secret, I don’t know if the authorities even suspect Ray in any of these cases. Or, maybe they’re not getting any pressure from anyone, so they’re happy to leave well-enough alone and work on active cases.
If we want answers, the first step is gonna have to be making people at-large aware of these unsolved crimes. Then law enforcement is going to need to feel some pressure. As I said a few chapters back, investigators don’t like to expend resources convicting criminals who are already locked up for life or dead, and Ray was and is both of those. To get investigators moving, it will likely take loud voices from people with an interest in a resolution — the families of the victims.
Is Cynthia Allen’s family still out there?
Do they still want answers, or is it like ripping the scab off an old wound? Surviving family members of murder victims are not always willing to revisit old traumas.
Are Pat Wisniewski’s kids still out there, hoping for resolution in this case?
What about the Cizauskas family? The Cadigan sisters’ relatives?
Are there still people out there willing to make enough noise and spur investigators to action?
According to one source, forensic genealogy investigations cost $5400 on average. However, Ray’s profile is already on file. No genealogy investigation is necessary. It’s just a simple DNA test of the evidence found at the various crime scenes to see if the perpetrator’s DNA matches Ray’s.
Are there any Wisconsin Sheriff or AG Candidates who want to make a name for themselves in the runup to election?
How about correcting a long-overdue injustice by solving a cold case?
Just do the testing.
I’m gonna leave this chapter open to all, and if anyone from law enforcement or maybe a surviving family member wants to read the whole series, send me a message and I will get you past the substack paywall so you can read it all.
I have a media source for every claim I’ve made in this series.
One Story Left to Tell
Earlier I asked “Where do you put the odds that David and Ellen were the only people Ray ever killed?” but there’s an even-more provocative question to me.
When did Ray kill for the first time?
That question led me to work backwards from the murder of David and Ellen, and eventually led to the additions of Pat Wisniewski and Cynthia Allen to this list, as early as 1972.
In an earlier chapter, I wrote about searching for information on Ray’s military service, and it has been thus far impossible to track down his military records. I’m interested in his military service for a number of reasons — for pinpointing his whereabouts at any given time, for example. However, I’m also interested because I’d like to know when he served, where, and whether he saw any action. I’d like to know when Ray came home, from where, and what his state of mind was. What was his job in the military?
Did he come home apparently well-adjusted by outward appearances? Or did he struggle with PTSD-like symptoms due to his service? The story I’m going to tell you next is relevant to the answer, and goes all the way back to 1968. Honestly, even I find it a little far-fetched, and I came up with it. However, if Ray was responsible, it would be the answer to one of the Lake Michigan region’s most notorious unsolved murders.
The final chapter is next.