Day 2: Sister, babysitter testify in Burch murder trial

Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 10:11 PM CST
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Testimony continues Tuesday in the murder trial against George Burch as friends and family of Nicole VanderHeyden tell their stories from the night of her murder.

Forty-year-old Burch is charged with killing VanderHeyden back in May of 2016.

Investigators said DNA and cell phone evidence link Burch to the crime scene, including the Bellevue field where VanderHeyden’s body was found.

The Dane County medical examiner testified about the hundreds of injuries she suffered. The cause of death has been ruled strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.

Tuesday afternoon’s questioning focused on the hours leading up to VanderHeyden’s death almost two years ago.

On the night VanderHeyden was killed, one of her friends Dallas Kennedy was babysitting her infant son at her Ledgeview home. It’s the same home VanderHeyden shared with boyfriend Douglass Detrie.

When VanderHeyden didn’t come home on May 21, 2016, but Detrie did, the babysitter said she got worried.

“Doug immediately asked if I had heard from Nikki and I was confused because I heard other footsteps and I said, ‘Isn't she with you?’ and he said, ‘No, it's my friend Greg’,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy said she tried to call VanderHeyden’s phone a few times but didn’t get through because her phone was dead. While calling her, she said she tried to reassure Detrie.

“I said, ‘She’ll be home, she will be home any moment’,” said Kennedy.

The defense asked Kennedy what Detrie’s demeanor was like and she said, ‘He just said I am very concerned, keep calling her. I am very concerned like this doesn’t make sense.’

About 20 minutes later, Kennedy left Detrie’s residence and went home.

“I locked my door. Looked around the cul-de-sac. It was quiet. I stared into the garage, it was open, the light was on and I just asked, ‘Where are you Nikki?” said Kennedy.

VanderHeyden never showed up so Detrie filed a missing person’s report on May 22, 2016. He also called VanderHeyden’s sister, Heather Meyer, who feared the worst.

“I don't remember who sent me a message, but this was right before we were going to go and look for her. We saw on the news there had been a body found in Bellevue and we prayed it wasn't her,” said Meyer.

Brown County Sergeant Tracy Holschbach met with Detrie after knowing a body had been found in a field and that it was likely VanderHeyden’s. Detrie agreed to hand over his cell phone for data collection, including argumentative text messages.

“He had no problem showing me his cell phone,” said Holschbach.

Later that night, Detrie went to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office for more questioning and on May 23, he was arrested for murder.

“He was seated in the back seat, but I could tell by his emotions he was emotional, that he was in a very emotional state,” said Holschbach.

Detrie was never officially charged with the murder of VanderHeyden and was released 18 days later due to lack of evidence.

Detrie is expected to take the stand, at some point, during this trial which continues Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.