A Minnesota man is accused of murdering his elderly grandparents, who were beloved fixtures of their small town, the Star Tribune reports.
Authorities on Friday charged 33-year-old Gregory A. Scheel with two probable cause counts of intentional second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Gloria and Wilbert Scheel.
A cause of death has not yet been released, but Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson said an autopsy confirmed they were the result of homicide.
The couple’s deaths, he said, “did not appear to be from natural causes.”
A member of the family notified authorities that something was wrong after the couple failed to show up for a dinner date on Wednesday. Police found their car with their bodies inside around 5 p.m. Thursday after an area resident saw the vehicle stuck in the mud.
Investigators soon focused on the grandson, who was living with the couple at the time and who has an extensive criminal record.
Court records obtained by the newspaper show Gregory Scheel was convicted at least 15 times within the last 15 years on various misdemeanor and felony charges, including drug possession, domestic assault, receiving stolen property, burglary, theft and violating a protective order.
When he was arrested this week, Scheel also was facing charges for theft, burglary and escape in connection to a case from December in which he allegedly stole baby toys that had been delivered to a home.
He was arrested after police found his car alongside a highway.
As he was being booked in that matter, Scheel reportedly ran out of the police station and was not found until hours later hiding inside someone’s garage. Police found him with a knife and an unusual homemade device akin to a Taser.
Residents of Paynesville, Minnesota, told the Star Tribune that Gloria, 80, and Wilbert Scheel, 93, were well known within their community.
They attended the 10:30 a.m. service every Sunday at Grace Methodist Church, where Gloria led a women’s group. Wilber would play competitive pingpong and always drove local beauty queens in his convertible during parades.
“It’s a small community and these people were known by everyone — I mean, all of the Paynesville royalty — for just many, many years,” Linda Liestman told the newspaper.
Paynesville, population 2,400, is about 85 miles west of Minneapolis.
Kari Schaefer, the director of youth and family ministries at Grace Methodist, said the pair “were two people who would help you no matter what you did.”
The couple also had no problem making friends with people both young and old.
“They were just involved in many things in the community over the years and up until the last,” Liestman said. “They were just highly loved and highly respected by everybody. Just all goodness.”
[Feature Photo: Gregory A. Scheel, Gloria and Wilbert Scheel/Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension]