The Green Bay Northwoods Killings — Ch 10
Chapter Ten: The unsolved case of another young woman murdered outdoors.
Cynthia Allen of Marinette, Wisconsin went missing on June 11th, 1972 after attending a school dance. She was found stabbed to death on July 1st in Grover, Wisconsin. According to the Press-Gazette:
Marinette County authorities said today the body of a teenage girl found Saturday in the Town of Grover, west of Peshtigo, has been identified as Cynthia Allen, 17-year-old Marinette High School senior who has been missing since June 11.
The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported:
The Allen girl was found along a Grover town road by [Douglas Schroeder.] Authorities said he noticed a jacket hanging on a tree limb by the road, and 15 feet beyond that, the body.
A story in the Press-Gazette gave additional detail.
The victim's body was nude, officers said, lying on her back, about 15 yards off County Trunk B in the Town of Grover, west of Peshtigo. Douglas Schroeder, [...] who was feeding raccoons along the road, found the body on property owned by James Polzin. Officers said the body was partially concealed with tree branches. Garments were found hanging from tree branches in the wooded area.
In a pattern that would play out again, the authorities and the public speculated about whether Cynthia Allen’s murder could be connected to the Green Bay murders of Mary Kay Zenz and Diane Cartier. From the Green Bay Press-Gazette, July 5th, 1972:
Green Bay police are "keeping in contact" with Marinette County authorities to determine if there is a link between the Cynthia Allen slaying and two unsolved murders here. Police Chief Elmer Madson said today that they are checking out the possible "similarity of any suspects" in the murders. The nude body of Cynthia Allen, 17, of Marinette, was found in a clump of woods about 15 yards off County Trunk B In the Town of Grover, west of Peshtigo, last Saturday. She had been stabbed to death. The stabbing deaths of two Green Bay girls Diane Cartier, 16, and Mary Zenz, 20, have never been solved, and police here have been checking into other murder cases throughout the state.
Of course, if you’ve been reading from the beginning, you already know, two perpetrators were eventually caught and convicted for the Zenz and Cartier murders, and based on their whereabouts and movements, neither of them was the killer of Cynthia Allen. The authorities didn’t know that in 1972, however.
On July 19th, the Marinette DA announced four suspects had been cleared.
District Attorney Daniel Miron of Marinette said Tuesday that four suspects in the Cynthia Allen murder case have been cleared by a lie detector test.
As far as I could determine, none of the potential suspects cleared by lie detector were ever named, and Cynthia Allen’s name was rarely mentioned in the media again, except to occasionally point out that her case was still unsolved.
She was a young woman raped and murdered in the outdoors. Marched into the wilderness, forced to take off her clothes, sexually assaulted, then stabbed to death with a careless indifference for human life.
In four years, about 35 miles away, Ellen Matheys would die in virtually the same fashion, except with a gun instead of a knife.
Cynthia Allen’s murder is still unsolved today.
Could Ray Vannieuwenhoven have murdered Cynthia Allen?
Once again, I feel compelled to say yes. In my opinion, Ray Vannieuwenhoven could plausibly be responsible for the rape and murder of Cynthia Allen.
Miss Allen’s body was found about thirty-five miles from both McClintock Park, where David and Ellen would be murdered, and also from Lakewood, where Ray Vannieuwenhoven would later make his home. Anyone who’s lived in rural America knows, a half-hour drive is nothing. It’s a trip to the store, especially in 1972, when you couldn’t just order everything.
Try This Experiment
If you look at these crimes plotted on a map, you might be surprised by what you find. Set a point on McClintock Park in North-Central Wisconsin. We’ll use that as the center of a circle with a 90-mile diameter — 45 miles in every direction — because we know for certain Ray Vannieuwenhoven killed David and Ellen there. He was convicted of it. The point is ground zero and only 90 miles across. However, within the circle are:
The site where Cynthia Allen’s body would be found in 1972.
The site of Mrs. Pat Wisniewski’s murder in 1975.
The site of David and Ellen’s murder in 1976.
The Lakewood house Ray owned from 1996 to 2019.
All within a 90-mile circle, in the counties of Marinette and Oconto.
And guess, what? There will be more events that go in that circle, but we’ll come back to that.
All in all, the MO of Cynthia Allen’s killer feels similar, in my opinion. Sexually motivated and similar to the assault on Ellen Matheys. Based on descriptions of the crime and the length of time Miss Allen’s clothing and remains were exposed to the elements, there may or may not be genetic material that could still be tested in the death of Cynthia Allen.
In the next chapter, we’ll talk about a couple of violent attacks on women that took place in the years after David and Ellen were murdered. And still to come, several high-profile unsolved Wisconsin murder cases that fit right into this story.
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Troy Larson is a writer, digital content creator with hundreds of podcast and broadcast credits to his name, and harbinger of things that go bump in the night. Subscribe to the Until Night Falls Newsletter on Substack. Reach out: email@example.com