The Green Bay Northwoods Killings — Ch 1
Chapter One: The Bicentennial and a Double Murder
You could say July 9th, 1976 was the first weekend of America’s third century. Just five days earlier, the country celebrated its bicentennial — the 200th anniversary of the founders’ signing of the Declaration of Independence — and the mood was festive.
Cities all over America had been tasked with organizing local celebrations and observations and had risen to the challenge. Around the country, in cities big and small, the official Bicentennial logo — a red, white, and blue star design — began cropping up in public spaces; on posters and drink cups and paper shopping bags. There were fantastic fireworks displays, the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again until the turn of the millennium, plus parades and concerts and festivals, too. I remember, as a very young child, my hometown painted all the city vehicles in American-flag themed paint jobs… the cement trucks and dump trucks and other city vehicles all wore the stars & stripes in ‘76.
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The celebratory vibe carried over into the following weekend. The weather in northern Wisconsin was great — blue sky and a high of 91 degrees — the kind of weather we imagine when we dream about the good times we’ll have when we just find time to have a good time.
You can envision it if you close your eyes… a young man, David, 25, just cruising, windows down in a purple AMC Gremlin.
A Green Bay radio station crackled, then locked in. You can almost hear the lyrics blasting from a 4x10 dashboard speaker as the car rocketed up the highway into the Wisconsin Northwoods.
At his side, his fiancee, Ellen.
Maybe her chestnut hair floated and danced and licked at the wind in rushing window eddies, and she smiled.
In a moment like that, you imagine everything was right in the world of David and Ellen. They were young and in-love; engaged to be married.
Life couldn’t get much better.
They were full of enthusiasm and ready to spend a weekend camping and hiking at McClintock park, a remote park near Silver Cliff, Wisconsin, 60 miles north of Green Bay. They had no reason to fear what was in front of them… they had their whole lives to live.
It was early Friday afternoon. David and Ellen had ducked out of Green Bay by 10 AM to get an early start on the weekend. They could not have known their time would be counted in hours together, not decades of married life, and it was quickly drawing to a close.
Saturday, July 10, 1976
Saturday morning, the scene was all police tape and emergency vehicles. The weekend news gave hints, and Monday morning, the story was out.
A Green Bay man was found shot to death at a Marinette County park Friday afternoon and police are searching for a Green Bay woman who had accompanied him on a camping trip. The body of David Schuldes, 25, of 2301 Manitowoc Road, was found about 3 p.m. in the McClintock Park Campgrounds by a park caretaker and a Marinette off-duty policeman.
David was dead, shot in the neck, and his fiancee was missing.
Lance Timper of Marinette was a police officer in 1976 and just happened to be on a hike to collect blueberries with his girlfriend at McClintock Park that day when he heard a shot. Minutes later, a park caretaker asked Timper to help him check on a bleeding man by the women’s restroom.
“There was a man laying on the ground,” Timper said. “He had blood dripping out of his nose and underneath him. His face and hands were turning blue. He had no pulse.”
Timper sent the caretaker to Goodman Park, the nearest phone, to call 911, while he stayed behind to secure the crime scene.
The next morning, Ellen Matheys' body was found in a wooded pine plantation about 600 feet away. She had been sexually assaulted and shot twice.
If the police had any hope of finding the killer, he would have needed to make a mistake… but this murderer committed his crime with evil forethought and sinister attention-to-detail. Clues were scarce. He had experience in how to skirt the law going at least as far back as 1957.
Troy Larson is a true crime writer, researcher and producer with hundreds of podcast and broadcast credits to his name. Reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
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