Jurors in tears while viewing crime scene photos in Kaukauna child killings
OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The mother of two children who prosecutors say were killed by their father in Kaukauna took the witness stand Friday afternoon.
Melissa Schuth is the mother of victims 5-year-old William Beyer and 3-year-old Danielle Beyer. The children’s father, Matthew Beyer, is standing trial on two counts of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide.
While prosecutors told the jury Beyer meticulously planned the February 2020 murders, his attorneys say it’s reasonable to believe someone other than Beyer killed the children.
Following opening statements where prosecutors and the defense laid out their cases, jurors heard from the first two officers who arrived at the murder scene and saw crime scene photos. Some jurors were seen wiping tears as they looked at the photos.
Kaukauna police officers Charlie Vosters and Brian Schaefer described arriving at the Crooks Ave. home and being met by a hysterical Melissa Schuth.
The two officers made their way into the bedroom that William and Danielle shared, quickly confirming the two children were dead. They described the large amount of blood on and around the children and the horrific wounds they’d suffered. The officers believed the children had been dead for a while because the blood had started to dry and crack.
Then, the children’s mother testified about finding the children.
Initially believing her son had spilled a red drink all over his bed, only realizing it was much worse as she approached the bed and pulled back his blanket, revealing deep stab wounds and cuts on his neck.
“What did you--?” the prosecutor started.
“I picked my son up and I started screaming for my husband to call 911,” Schuth testified, fighting back tears, “and I picked him up and I carried him from his bed through to the living room, and I just remember screaming for him to call 911, and I walked back with my son to the bedroom.”
To another question, she answered, “I was just thinking I was going to wake up from this horrible nightmare and that’s what it was. I was so lost and so confused. I didn’t know how all this happened.”
The children’s mother was the last witness jurors heard from until Monday, when they’ll be back for testimony from Tyler Schuth, her husband, and the doctor who performed the autopsies on the Beyer children.
The trial is scheduled for 12 days in Outagamie County Court but could wrap earlier depending on when both sides rest.
On Thursday, the prosecution and defense chose a jury out of a pool of 102 potential jurors. A jury of 10 men and five women was picked to hear the case. There are 12 jurors and three alternates.
The Beyer children were found dead in their mother’s home in Kaukauna on February 17, 2020. According to a criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News, the children were found in their bedroom with injuries to their necks, which one officer described as “almost a hole.” Autopsies found William and Danielle suffered five to eight sharp force injuries to their necks. William also had two shallow cuts to his hands, which prosecutors say indicates the boy put up a fight.
A witness told police that a week after the children were murdered, Beyer described in detail how he would have killed the children so they couldn’t scream out and alert anyone. The witness said Beyer didn’t believe he was their father and was upset about having to pay child support when the mother wouldn’t let him see the children.
Beyer said he hadn’t been to Kaukauna for two months, but detectives pieced together videos from traffic and home doorbell cameras following a silver minivan like Beyer’s along a route from his driveway in Manitowoc to Kaukauna and back.
In a separate case, Beyer was sentenced to five years in prison in an attempted jail escape in Outagamie County.
A criminal complaint says Beyer provided another inmate, Demetrius Williams, with a piece of cardboard inmates use as a privacy shield when using the bathroom. Williams hid behind the cardboard in the dayroom and surprised an officer when she came to ensure inmates were in their cells.
Williams restrained the guard and threatened her with a pointed pencil. He insisted that Beyer was coming with him and ordered her to open Beyer’s cell. The guard agreed but pressed the button to open a different cell door instead, distracting Williams just long enough to get out of his reach and run down the hallway and yell for help.
Williams was later sentenced to 45 years for killing a 3-year-old girl and trying to kill her pregnant mother in Appleton.
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