PAYNESVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - A 33-year-old Paynesville, Minnesota, man has been charged with the murder of his two grandparents after their bodies were found inside a car in Kandiyohi County last week.
Wilbert Scheel, 93, and Gloria Scheel, 80, were reported missing by family members on Wednesday after they did not show up for a family dinner. The couple lived with their grandson, Gregory Scheel. Earlier that evening, Gregory had told another family member that his grandparents had left to go to Sauk Rapids.
On Thursday, Paynesville police conducted a second welfare check on the couple because family members had still not heard from them. Officers noted possible blood in the garage and that the garage floor had recently been cleaned, according to the criminal complaint. They also found an eyeglass lens in the garage floor drain.
Neither Wilbert nor Gloria was home and their blue Toyota Prius was missing. The Prius was seen on surveillance camera leaving the neighborhood on Wednesday evening with what appeared to be a single occupant.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension issued a crime alert to locate the couple and their grandson.
At 4:54 p.m. on Thursday, investigators received a report that the Prius had been found by County Road 5 on the east side of Game’s Lake in Colfax Township in northern Kandiyohi County.
When authorities searched the vehicle, they found the bodies of Wilbert and Gloria. Wilbert’s arms and legs were bound and there was a plastic bag over his head. The medical examiner determined he died of asphyxiation.
Gloria had an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. Her eyeglasses were missing a lens. The medical examiner determined she died of strangulation.
The bodies were covered with a section of carpet. The Prius smelled of gasoline and portions of the interior were charred and covered in soot.
At 9:10 p.m., authorities located Gregory approximately half a mile from the Prius. The tread pattern on his shoes matched that of footprints found near the driver’s side door of the car.
Scheels is charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He made his first court appearance on Monday. His bail is set at $1.5 million with conditions or $3 million without.
Friends of Wilbert and Gloria said they were some of the town's favorite people.
"They're the best people around; you can't find any better people than Willie and Gloria," said Tom Quarfot.
"I was shocked. They’re two good people and didn’t deserve that," said another friend, Dean Rien.