A 33-year-old central Minnesota man with a long criminal history was charged Monday in the deaths last week of his grandparents, a couple widely known and admired in their community.
Gregory A. Scheel, who lived with the couple at their home in Paynesville, was charged in Stearns County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder. His bail was set at $1.5 million ahead of an April 9 court hearing.
The bodies of Gloria Scheel, 80, and Wilbert "Willie" Scheel, 93, were found in their car early Thursday evening on a rural road near Games Lake in neighboring Kandiyohi County, roughly 20 miles west of their home.
Assistant County Attorney Joshua Kannegieter said that while a motive for the killing remained under investigation, authorities are "looking into a possible monetary motive or whether there are some [illicit] drug pieces to it."
Willie Scheel's arms and legs were bound and his head covered with a plastic bag, the criminal complaint read. Gloria Scheel had an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. Both were covered with a piece of carpet, the court document noted.
Their car smelled of gasoline, and parts of the interior were charred, the charges stated. The official cause and manner of death for the two are pending.
Law enforcement officers making a welfare check midday on Thursday at the couple's home, in the 1500 block of W. Mill Street, found blood on the garage floor, which appeared to recently have been cleaned, the complaint read. Willie Scheel was last seen a day earlier checking the mail.
A few hours after the car was found by law enforcement later in the day, the grandson was apprehended about a half-mile away. Footprints near the car were consistent with the pattern on his shoes, according to the charges.
Defense attorney Luke Neuville has declined to comment.
Missed dinner date
Police said that a family member called them after the Scheels missed a dinner date Wednesday night.
Suspicion quickly turned to their grandson, who had been living with them for several months, and who throughout his adult life has had at least 15 convictions for burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, domestic assault, drug possession, violating a protection order and drunken driving.
At the time of his arrest, he was facing charges in Chippewa County for burglary, theft and escape involving an incident in December.
Many in Paynesville remember Gloria Scheel for running a Christmas program at the Salem Historical Church near town, where she also had led Sunday school. The Christmas program hadn't been held for 30 years until Gloria helped restart it in 1997.
According to an article published by Paynesville Area Online, Willie and Gloria Scheel married in 1959. He had a small restaurant called the Black Saucer Steakhouse at the time, and he eventually built a 40-unit motel around it. They sold the Black Saucer Motel in 1999 and bought some land on the Crow River west of Paynesville, where they built their home and other houses for sale under the name WilGlo Acres.