'Linked to reports of 2 missing men': Business owner charged after remains found in burn pit
WITI / Franklin Police
Matthew Neumann

By Derica Williams, Suzanne Spencer, WITI:

EAST TROY, Wis. (WITI) -- One employee is dead, and another hasn't been seen or heard from in weeks. On Tuesday, Jan. 15, a 43-year-old Franklin resident and business owner was criminally charged after human remains were found in a burn pit in Walworth County on Jan. 10. Cash bond was set at $250,000.

Matthew Neumann, 43, owner of Spot Free Cleaning, is facing one count of first degree reckless homicide (party to a crime) and hiding a corpse (party to a crime).

This all began with an arson investigation being conducted by the Milwaukee Police Department that led to a report of two missing persons.

Franklin police said while assisting with an arson investigation, police "uncovered information of a potential homicide by the suspect, and linked him to reports of two missing men."

The complaint indicates Franklin police made contact with Neumann at his residence in Franklin on Jan. 2. During the encounter, police noted a strong odor of a chemical accelerant once let inside the home by Neumann, along with clothes soaked in diesel fuel.

A complaint prior to the arson, on Jan. 2 around 5 a.m., Neumann's wife said he came home intoxicated, "racking the slide back and forth on a handgun." Later that morning, when she walked outside, she saw a dead body in the passenger seat of Neumann's truck in the driveway. When confronted, Neumann said he "shot Rich or Dick over a pack of squares." That victim, along with another employee, were reported missing. She left the home, and when she returned, Neumann and the truck were gone. When he returned, "his clothes smelled so strongly of diesel fuel she made (Neumann) put them outside."

"A search warrant was conducted at the defendant's business. During the search, a cadaver dog alerted on four separate areas of the business," officials said.

Evidence led investigators to a farmhouse and land which Neumann leased for hunting -- located along County Road J in the town of 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.

The complaint makes 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.

Neumann made his initial appearance in court on Tuesday, Jan. 15 -- when the $250,000 cash bond was set. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 23.

The investigation is ongoing.

MORE: ‘Linked to reports of 2 missing men:’ Business owner charged after remains found in burn pit - WITI