A Stearns County grand jury has indicted a 33-year-old Paynesville, Minn., man on four counts of first-degree murder in the brutal killings of his grandparents.
Gregory A. Scheel, 33, also was indicted Tuesday on two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Wilbert “Willie” Scheel, 93, and Gloria Scheel, 80.
The couple’s bodies were found on March 22 in their car on a rural dirt road in Kandiyohi County, covered with a carpet and the interior of their vehicle partly charred and covered in soot.
A medical examiner ruled their deaths homicides. Willie Scheel was suffocated with a plastic bag placed over his head, and Gloria Scheel had been strangled with an electrical cord.
Suspicion quickly turned to their grandson, who had been living with them for several months, and who throughout his adult life had racked up at least 15 convictions for burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, domestic assault, drug possession, violating a protection order and drunken driving.
Gregory Scheel was arrested that night after a manhunt by more than a half-dozen local and state law enforcement agencies.
In each of the deaths, Gregory Scheel is charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder “while committing domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse,” and one count of second-degree murder, not premeditated.
If convicted on the most serious charges, he could face life in prison.
Scheel remains in the Stearns County jail in lieu of bail of $3 million without conditions or $1.5 million with conditions. He’s scheduled to make his initial appearance on the indictment Wednesday in Stearns County District Court.
Willie and Gloria Scheel, who married in 1959, were beloved in Paynesville, residents said.
Willie Scheel was a restaurant owner and land developer who was an avid skier into his 80s and played competitive pingpong.
Gloria Scheel was active in community affairs and was remembered as a Sunday school teacher and leader of her church’s Christmas program.