Father of Kaukauna kids charged with their deaths, held on $2.5 million bond

Matthew Beyer. Photo: Outagamie County Jail
Matthew Beyer. Photo: Outagamie County Jail(WBAY)
Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 6:15 AM CDT
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An Outagamie County court set bond at $2.5 million cash for a man accused of killing his two children in Kaukauna and an attempted escape at the Outagamie County Jail Sunday night.

Matthew Beyer was formally charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the deaths of 5-year-old William Beyer and 3-year-old Danielle Beyer.

He's also charged with being party to the crimes of attempted escape and taking a hostage without bodily harm.

"Quite frankly, under the circumstances, Beyer is a dangerous person," the judge said.

According to the criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News, the children were found in their bedroom on February 17 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.

Beyer is the children's biological father. Police say he didn't have a good relationship with the mother or her husband, and Beyer's own wife didn't want the children in her home or be left alone with them.

Police say Beyer showed little emotional response when he was told about the deaths of his children. He said the night of the murders he couldn't sleep all night and passed the time rolling cigarettes and playing on his phone, and stopped at a gas station on his way to work. Beyer, who lives in Manitowoc, told detectives his minivan hadn't been to Kaukauna in two months.

As police investigated the murders, a neighbor reported seeing a silver minivan three days earlier. It was parked at 3 a.m. one block away from the children's house. The neighbor described a man who matched Beyer's description walking back to the minivan with an odd shuffle and driving away.

Police knew Beyer drove a silver minivan with black trim. They used traffic cameras and home surveillance videos to determine the minivan pulled out of Beyer's driveway at 1 a.m. on February 17 and took Highway 10 towards Kaukauna. The driver avoided main roads and major intersections in and out of Kaukauna. Around 3:10 a.m. the van returned to Manitowoc on Highway 10 and pulled into Beyer's driveway with its headlights off.

They looked at videos from Friday, the day the neighbor reported seeing a van parked a block from the children's house, and saw the same minivan going on Highway 10 through Brillion to Kaukauna, then back again, between 3:15 and 3:30 in the morning.

Under further questioning on June 4, Beyer changed his story. First he said he'd driven through Kaukauna but didn't stop on his way to visit his mother. Then he said his van wasn't driven between February 13 and February 17. Then he told them he couldn't sleep on February 14 because he had a "bad feeling" something was going to happen, so he drove to check on his kids, saw the house was dark and never went on the property. He said he did the same thing on February 15.

Finally, he admitted going into the house on February 17, using a card to open the door, and looked in the children's bedroom and saw them sleeping, then looked for drugs he expected their mother to have. He told them that was the third time he went to the house and was the first time there was a car in the driveway and the porch light was off, telling him everyone was home.

Beyer was asked about his collection of decorative knives. He said one was missing, one that had a 2- or 3-inch blade.

On June 10, police interviewed a friend of Beyer's wife, who said the 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 friend 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.

The first-degree intentional homicide charges carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he's found guilty.

In March, Beyer started a GoFundMe for burial expenses for the children. That fundraiser was closed after raising $100.

An obituary for William and Danielle remembered them as curious and smart.

"Will and Dani were inseparable. Will was Dani's protector and Dani always looked up to Will. They were both always smiling with their great big smiles and were just happy to always be together," reads the obituary.

Beyer is also charged with an attempted escape from the Outagamie County Jail over the weekend where a jail officer was restrained. The 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 the officer when she came to make sure inmates were in their cells.

Beyer changed his story for investigators a couple of times, but told them he thought Williams was joking about his escape plans, although he noticed Williams placing 20 freshly sharpened pencils around the cellblock.

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.