FRANKLIN — Matthew Neumann, 44, of Franklin, accused in the deaths of two of his Spot Free Cleaning employees, pleaded not guilty to amended charges Monday, May 13.
Neumann entered the plea to these counts:
- First degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
- Hiding a corpse, as party to a crime
- First degree reckless homicide, as party to a crime
- Hiding a corpse, as party to a crime
A final pre-trial hearing was scheduled for June 12, with a jury trial set to begin June 24.
A federal search warrant obtained by FOX6 News at the end of April revealed new details related to a timeline prosecutors were working to establish in the case. Prosecutors said Neumann burned the bodies of Richard Conklin and Robert Hajduk in a burn pit on hunting property he leased in East Troy after driving the bodies there inside a trailer from his Franklin cleaning business.
A search warrant obtained by FOX6 News on April 11 showed Neumann’s wife told investigators she saw an unresponsive person slumped over in his truck on the morning of Jan. 2. The federal search warrant obtained by FOX6 News on April 30 showed, according to surveillance video, Neumann was driving that truck later that night, followed by a Chevy Impala that looked like one registered to his brother Donald.
At one point, the search warrant said the two vehicles stopped, Matthew Neumann got out of his truck, and then a burst of light was seen coming from the truck as Neumann ran to the Impala and got into the passenger seat.
Phone records showed Donald and Matthew Neumann texted 17 times that night, and Matthew Neumann did not text anyone else.
It is important to note, Donald does not face any charges in this case.
Text messages from the search warrant obtained on April 11 revealed Matthew Neumann confessed to his wife. According to prosecutors, Neumann was upset one of his employees was trying to take his cigarettes.
Loved ones of two of Neumann’s employees said the last time they heard from Richard Conklin and Robert Hajduk was when they went to work at Spot Free Cleaning in Franklin the first week of January. The search warrant revealed Conklin’s girlfriend said he was partying on Jan. 1 at Neumann’s shop, and she got multiple calls from him, in which he sounded increasingly intoxicated. At one point, Neumann called and said he was kidnapping her boyfriend, the document showed. She eventually went to bed, and when she tried calling Conklin on Jan. 2, his phone was turned off — which worried her.
Neumann’s wife Tammy later told investigators early that morning, Neumann came home drunk, woke her up and said, “Something went bad today.” She said he had a handgun with him. A few hours later, Tammy saw Neumann’s truck parked in the driveway, with a person slumped over in the passenger seat.
The document showed Tammy’s daughter’s boyfriend texted a friend about the gruesome sight, writing: “His eyes were open, but he was sitting up, stuck ‘n bleeding out his nose. The window behind his head was like, cracked, keep if his head was pushed hella hard into the thing. Yea. He sat there for hours, bro, ‘n Matt came in faded last night talking ’bout he killed someone.” That man’s grandmother went to police after learning of the text messages.
According to prosecutors, Neumann told his wife the person in the vehicle would be fine. She left home, and a few hours later, Neumann and the truck were gone.
Milwaukee police on Jan. 2 found a burning truck near 8th and Rogers registered to Neumann with blood, a bullet fragment and a bullet hole. The document showed when police responded to Neumann’s home, they noted a strong odor of a chemical accelerant, and Neumann told them Conklin typically drives his truck, and he had been out with Conklin “last night,” and Conklin failed to show up to work that day.
On Jan. 4, Conklin’s girlfriend was told Conklin was involved in an accident with one of Neumann’s work vehicles and he was missing.
The document showed police later spoke with Neumann’s wife, who was “visibly emotional and shaking,” as she reported her husband may have killed someone on Jan. 2. While she was speaking with police, she received texts from Matthew Neumann, who indicated he was packing up his clothes and leaving for Florida, the document said.
Neumann’s wife said her daughter saw the surveillance video of the truck fire in Milwaukee on the news, and texted her, “Do you think this is Dad?” Tammy said she watched the video multiple times and said this was probably her husband.
On Jan. 4, the document showed police were asked to check the welfare of Robert Hajduk by his girlfriend, who said she had not heard from her boyfriend of 10 years since Jan. 3, when he was at Spot Free Cleaning. The document said Hajduk’s vehicle had broken down, and Neumann towed it from Racine, telling Hajduk if he fixed one of Neumann’s diesel trucks, he wouldn’t have to pay for the tow or fixing his vehicle at the shop. She said Hajduk said he was going to spend a couple days at the shop to fix it, and was trying to get money from Neumann for parts for his diesel truck. Investigators learned Tammy had written him a check for $100. Hajduk’s girlfriend said she last saw him on Jan. 2, when he headed to Neumann’s shop.
Neumann was arrested on Jan. 8, and search warrants were executed on his home and business.
On Jan. 9, the document showed Tammy indicated Matthew Neumann confessed to shooting Conklin because Conklin tried to rob him of his cigarettes.
Prosecutors said Neumann burned the men’s bodies in a pit on some hunting property he leased in East Troy. Upon executing a search warrant at the East Troy property, a burn pit was located which contained the charred remains of two individuals, as well as other items including pieces of charcoal and charcoal bags — and a Spot Free Cleaning trailer next to the burn pit. A witness reported a large fire there — either on the afternoon of Jan. 3 or Jan. 4.
A criminal complaint filed against Neumann made reference to surveillance video from the Home Depot store in Mukwonago — near the Walworth County property on County Road J. The complaint said Neumann was seen in the video around 11 a.m. on Jan. 3 purchasing charcoal, lighter fluid and two-by-fours. The next day, Neumann and another person purchased more charcoal, a door, and two more containers of lighter fluid, the complaint said. Cellphone tower data showed Neumann in the vicinity of the Walworth County property on Jan. 2, Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, the complaint said.