Minnesota Man Charged with Murdering Grandparents
PAYNESVILLE, Minn. (AP) — A central Minnesota man with a lengthy criminal record was charged Monday with killing his grandparents, who had taken him into their home.
Stearns County prosecutors charged Gregory Scheel, 33, with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 93-year-old Wilbert Scheel and 80-year-old Gloria Scheel, of Paynesville. Their bodies were found Thursday in their car along a rural road in nearby Kandiyohi County.
According to the complaint, Wilbert Scheel's body was found with his arms and legs bound and with a plastic bag over his head. Gloria Scheel was found with an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. It says their vehicle smelled of gas and some portions of the interior had been charred and covered in soot.
Gregory Scheel was arrested after the bodies were discovered when he was spotted walking in the area. A judge set bail for Scheel at $3 million with no conditions or $1.5 million with conditions. He remained in jail Monday and is due back in court April 9. His public defender, Luke Neuville, declined to comment Monday.
Gregory Scheel has been convicted of crimes ranging from burglary to domestic assault, the St. Cloud Times reported . The complaint accusing him of killing his grandparents does not list a motive.
Police in Paynesville, a small town about 95 miles (153 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis, conducted a welfare check on Wilbert and Gloria Scheel at their home on Wednesday night after they did not show up a family dinner, but did not find anyone home. A family member had been at the home earlier that evening and spoken to Gregory Scheel, who said his grandparents had left earlier in the day "with unknown individuals," according to the complaint.
Officers went back to the home Thursday and found blood in the garage, where the concrete floor apparently had been cleaned recently. Police also found an eyeglass lens in the garage floor drain. When the couple's bodies were found in their Prius, Gloria Scheel's glasses were missing a lens, the complaint states.
Investigators searched the couple's home and also found cut electrical cords matching those found on the bodies, a plastic bag matching the one found over Wilbert Scheel's head, and carpet similar to carpet that was covering the bodies.
Gloria Scheel was remembered for running a Christmas program at a Paynesville church where she also had led Sunday school. Wilbert Scheel, meanwhile, played pingpong and drove beauty queens in summer parades in his classic convertibles, the Star Tribune reported .
"It was just in their nature to help people," Paynesville Mayor Jeff Thompson told The Associated Press.