The Green Bay Northwoods Killings — Ch 4
Chapter Four: If Only They Had Known Who They Were Looking For
Throughout the investigation of 1976, the murders of Ellen and David were sometimes in the local news, but with few developments. A local resident, who lived in the area and was a teenager at the time, told me he does not remember it being a big story. However, investigators did piece together the events as they believe they went down.
David and Ellen arrived at McClintock Park in the early afternoon and set up their tent. They planned to take a hike along the nature trail and David had his camera slung over his shoulder to capture some shots along the way.
First, though, Ellen stopped to use the campground restroom.
The sequence of what happened next is uncertain, but terrible. From somewhere nearby, the killer fired a rifle and hit David Schuldes in the neck, killing him instantly. A second shot went into the wall of the outhouse. When Ellen came out, a killer was waiting for her with a gun.
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The man marched (some say chased) Ellen into the pine thicket at gunpoint, forced her to take off her shorts, and sexually assaulted her. After the assault, the killer allowed her to put her shorts back on, then shot her in the chest.
She fell to the ground.
The killer lowered the weapon and shot her once more in the abdomen. To make sure she was dead.
Investigators ruled out robbery since cash, Ellen’s purse, and David’s camera and car were all left undisturbed at the crime scene. Police conducted an exhaustive search of the area and although the autopsy concluded the weapon had likely been a 30-06 or a .308 rifle, no shell casings were immediately found anywhere.
The Appleton Post-Crescent reported:
This is the third unsolved murder case in Marinette County. Mrs. Pat Wisniewski, 35, was found fatally shot Aug. 30, 1975, in a mobile home 4 miles north of Amberg. In July, 1972, the body of Cynthia Allen, 17, Marinette, was found nude and stabbed to death woods in the Town of Grover.
We’ll get back to Mrs. Wisniewski and Ms. Allen.
Two area men, Robert Swanson and Kim Huempfner, would later tell investigators about a possible encounter with the gunman.
The men were walking near McClintock Park on a nature trail sometime between 2 and 2:30 when they heard a gunshot nearby. People were known to poach occasionally and the men did not consider it alarming. The men got in their vehicle and proceeded south on Parkway Road, where they saw a man walking along the shoulder with a rifle in his left hand.
According to the Marinette-Menominee Eagle-Herald:
“Just past the campground I saw a man on the right walking with a rifle,” Swanson said.
He said the man was “taller” with “longer” dark hair and was wearing a white or off-white shirt.
The vehicle was alternately described as a “dark” Dodge, or Plymouth, model year ‘68 to ‘71. Swanson described it as blue with Michigan plates.
Physical descriptions of the suspect were vague, so Detectives resorted to using hypnosis on the eyewitnesses. Swanson and Huempfner described the killer as 5’11” to 6’0” or taller; very slender, 140-160 pounds; dark brown, medium length hair; thin mustache; 20 to 30 years old.
Our still-unidentified suspect was actually about 39 at this time.
If Only They Had Known Who They Were Looking For
The suspect was not unknown to the authorities. He’d been in trouble with the law several times, and if they’d known who they were looking for, maybe they would have noticed suspicious behavior.
According to press reports, the autopsies of Ellen and David revealed they had been shot with a rifle, something like a 30-06 or a .308.
On May 10th, 1977, ten months after the murders, the Press-Gazette reported the suspect’s older brother claimed to have been robbed.
A rifle and other property valued at more than $800 were stolen from a Suamico home Monday evening.
Yes, the same older brother from the stolen auto parts, and the same older brother as the cash box theft years earlier.
Now, he was reporting items stolen from him:
A police scanner.
A movie camera.
And a .308 rifle.
Did the police ever investigate this coincidence? I honestly don’t know. The suspect’s older brother has never been accused or charged with any wrongdoing in relation to this case.
Things will only get darker in this investigation.
Troy Larson is a harbinger of things that go bump in the night; a true crime writer, researcher, and digital content producer with hundreds of podcast and broadcast credits to his name. Follow Troy on Medium. Reach out: email@example.com