Day 3: Victim's boyfriend testifies in Burch murder trial, denies involvement

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 10:27 PM CST
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The boyfriend of Nicole VanderHeyden, the mother-of-three found dead in a Bellevue field in May of 2016, spent hours under oath Wednesday during George Burch’s murder trial.

Douglass Detrie was arrested shortly after Vanderheyden’s body was found, but he was released 18 days later and was never charged with the crime.

Instead, based off of DNA and GPS data, George Burch was arrested months later and officially charged with VanderHeyden’s murder.

On day 3 of testimony, Detrie answered questions from the state and Burch’s defense team.

For the first time, Detrie walks the jury through his thoughts and actions the night his girlfriend disappeared and was murdered.

All of the witnesses who have testified so far in this trial have agreed that Detrie and VanderHeyden were both drunk and had a disagreement the night she went missing.

“I figured she slept at a friend's house…and probably felt the same way I did, hungover,” said Detrie.

Detrie said he tried to contact VanderHeyden that night, but didn’t get too concerned until the next morning when she didn’t return home. He contacted friends and family, including VanderHeyden’s sister who told him to contact police.

“I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s gotten to that point’ so I made that call,” said Detrie.

Within minutes, law enforcement officials were at his door to take down a missing person’s report.

Brown County Sgt. Tracy Holschbach testified Tuesday saying she never told Detrie a body had already been found.

“I was on a fact finding mission,” said Sgt. Holschbach. “It was not an interrogation.”

“They came in and we sat around the kitchen table and had a lengthy discussion about the night,” said Detrie.

It wasn’t until after law enforcedment officials left, that Detrie said he learned that a body had been found in a field.

“Everybody just started freaking out, like 'oh my god’,” said Detrie. “I think my mom said stay positive, to not think that it is Nikki… everybody was crying.”

Later that night, on May 22, Detrie was asked to come down to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office for more questioning. Detrie said that is when he learned the body found was his girlfriend’s.

“I lost it at that point,” said Detrie. “I was a wreck, just a blur after that.”

Two days later, on May 23, Detrie was arrested for her murder.

The state asked Detrie what he was thinking when he was arrested and he said, ‘I don't know. Why/how am I in this position? What is going on? I didn’t get it. I think I said, ‘This is wrong’.”

A good portion of the questions Detrie faced Wednesday focused on his relationship with VanderHeyden and test messages they exchanged.

Detrie will be back on the stand Thursday morning, starting at 8:30 a.m. as the defense continues its cross-examination.