Murder victims found burned in fire pit may have been killed over a pack of cigarettes: Report

Wisconsin police believe two people whose charred remains were discovered in a burn pit Thursday may have been murdered by a suspect over a pack of cigarettes.

Authorities in Franklin said they discovered the remains after an arson probe in Milwaukee, which is approximately 20 minutes away, “led to the report of two missing people,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The missing men, who haven’t been identified by police, are thought to have worked for the suspect arrested in the crime, 43-year-old Matthew Neumann.

Franklin Assistant Chief of Police Kevin Mango told the newspaper that investigators are “reasonably sure” the remains are that of two men who worked for Neumann. The suspect reportedly owns Spot Free Cleaning, a dry cleaning business located at 8581 S. 27th Street in Franklin.

Police reportedly said the burned bodies were found in a burn pit on farmland in East Troy—on the same property Neumann has a lease on for hunting.

Neumann’s wife told officials “she saw a dead body in his truck,” according to a criminal complaint obtained by the newspaper. Police said the suspect attempted to cover his tracks by lighting the truck on fire “the morning after the killing.”

Further, officials said the suspect’s daughter said she heard her father telling his spouse that he shot a male victim “over a pack of squares,” apparently meaning a pack of cigarettes, the complaint reportedly states. However, an exact motive hasn’t yet been revealed.

Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva told WISN that one of the victims resided in Racine, while the other lived in Milwaukee. It was not clear at the time of reporting when or where the victims were killed.

Neumann faces multiple charges involving the case, including first-degree reckless homicide and hiding a corpse, according to online records. He remains behind bars on a $250,000 bond.

This is a developing story. Check back with CrimeOnline for the latest updates.

[Feature photo: Matthew Neumann/Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office]