190116_BODIES

MILWAUKEE

The employer of two men whose charred remains were found on a Walworth County property last week was charged Tuesday in Milwaukee County Court.

The criminal complaint charges Matthew J. Neumann, 43, of Franklin with party to first-degree reckless homicide and party to hiding a corpse.

The complaint identifies a victim Neumann is accused of killing by the initials R.H.C., an employee of Neumann’s business, Spot Free Cleaning in Franklin.

Another man, identified as R.L.H. and also a Spot Free Cleaning employee, is reported as missing since Jan. 4, according to the complaint.

“No names will be released as to who the remains belong to, and investigators are still in the process of making a positive identification,” a Franklin police news release states.

The charges arose from an investigation of a fire in Neumann’s 2001 black Ford F250 pickup truck at 2004 S. Eighth St., Milwaukee, on Jan. 2, the complaint indicates.

A witness identified in the complaint as T.N. told investigators Neumann came home at about 5 a.m. Jan. 2, according to the complaint. She described him as intoxicated.

T.N. said Neumann had a black handgun, and she heard him racking the gun’s slide before he fell asleep on the couch, according to the complaint.

T.N. said she awoke later that morning and saw a man slumped in the passenger seat of Neumann’s pickup, which was parked in the driveway, and investigators later found blood on the driveway near that spot, according to the complaint.

The man appeared lifeless and had blood around his nose and mouth, T.N. said, and the passenger window might have been cracked, making an impression that could have come from a human head, according to the complaint.

Another witness, A.N., told police she overheard Neumann telling T.N. he had shot “Rich” or “Dick” “over a pack of squares,” according to the complaint.

“Pack of squares” is a slang term for a pack of cigarettes.

Neumann later left the residence and returned about 10 p.m. wearing clothing that smelled strongly of diesel fuel, witnesses said, according to the complaint.

Franklin police were dispatched to Neumann’s residence at 11:19 p.m. the same day, and officers noticed “a strong odor of chemical accelerant” as they entered the house, according to the complaint.

Neumann told officers R.H.C. had his pickup truck and that he didn’t know where R.H.C. was, according to the complaint.

Investigators found a “bullet hole and strike” on a pillar on the truck’s passenger side along with bullet fragments. And they found bullet casings in a “black, melted mass,” according to the complaint.

A bullet found in the pickup appeared to be a .223-caliber, full metal jacket style, and the bullet trajectory indicated it was shot from the driver’s side of the truck, according to the complaint.

Suspected blood stains were found on the truck’s floor, according to the complaint.

R.H.C.’s girlfriend, J.S., told police she hadn’t heard from him since 4:45 a.m. Jan. 2, when he told her he was with Neumann at Spot Free Cleaning. R.H.C.’s parents and roommate had not seen him, either, and calls to him had gone to voicemail, according to the complaint.

The girlfriend of R.L.H. had reported him missing. She told police the last time she heard from him was Jan. 3, and R.L.H.’s vehicle was found in the Spot Free Cleaning parking lot Jan. 4, according to the complaint.

A cadaver dog alerted to four places at Spot Free Cleaning during a search Jan. 8, according to the complaint.

Also on Jan. 8, a person identified as M.N. told officers Neumann leased land for hunting in the Mukwonago area, according to the complaint.

Investigators contacted Walworth County Sheriff’s Office officials, who told them East Troy police had contacted Neumann in 2017 at W2114 County J in the town of East Troy, according to the complaint.

Investigators executed a search warrant at the Walworth County property Jan. 10 and found a Spot Free Cleaning trailer next to the burn pit that contained the remains, according to the complaint.

Security video from the Mukwonago Home Depot store, about 5 miles from the property, shows Neumann buying four bags of charcoal, lighter fluid and eight two-by-fours the morning of Jan. 3, according to the complaint.

Store video from Jan. 4 shows Neumann with A.L.B. buying five bags of charcoal, a door and two containers of lighter fluid, according to the complaint.

A witness reported a large fire on the property the afternoon of Jan. 3 or Jan. 4, according to the complaint.

Cellphone tower data indicate Neumann was near the property at different times on Jan. 2, 3 and 4, according to the complaint.

A forensic anthropologist examined the remains, which were “significantly damaged by the fire” and determined they were of two men with estimated ages between 23 and 41, a range into which both R.H.C. and R.L.H. fall, according to the complaint.

No charges have been filed in Walworth County, although the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office and Town of East Troy Police Department are listed as assisting in the investigation.

Milwaukee County was holding Neumann on Tuesday on a $250,000 cash bond.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Wednesday, Jan. 23.

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