'Think this is Dad?' Search warrant reveals business owner confessed to murdering employees

Matthew Neumann

FRANKLIN -- Text messages from a search warrant revealed Matthew Neumann, accused of murdering two of his employees, confessed to his wife. According to prosecutors, Neumann was upset one of the men was trying to take his cigarettes.

Loved ones of two of Neumann's employees said the last time they heard from Richard Conklin and Robert Hajduk was when they went to work at Spot Free Cleaning in Franklin the first week of January. The search warrant revealed Conklin's girlfriend said he was partying on Jan. 1 at Neumann's shop, and she got multiple calls from him, in which he sounded increasingly intoxicated. At one point, Neumann called and said he was kidnapping her boyfriend, the document showed. She eventually went to bed, and when she tried calling Conklin on Jan. 2, his phone was turned off -- which worried her.

Neumann's wife Tammy later told investigators early that morning, Neumann came home drunk, woke her up and said, "Something went bad today." She said he had a handgun with him. A few hours later, Tammy saw Neumann's truck parked in the driveway, with a person slumped over in the passenger seat.

The document showed Tammy's daughter's boyfriend texted a friend about the gruesome sight, writing: "His eyes were open, but he was sitting up, stuck 'n bleeding out his nose. The window behind his head was like, cracked, keep if his head was pushed hella hard into the thing. Yea. He sat there for hours, bro, 'n Matt came in faded last night talking 'bout he killed someone." That man's grandmother went to police after learning of the text messages.

According to prosecutors, Neumann told his wife the person in the vehicle would be fine. She left home, and a few hours later, Neumann and the truck were gone.

Robert Hajduk

Arson near 8th and Rogers in Milwaukee -- linked to Matthew Neumann

Arson near 8th and Rogers in Milwaukee -- linked to Matthew Neumann

Milwaukee police on Jan. 2 found a burning truck near 8th and Rogers registered to Neumann with blood, a bullet fragment and a bullet hole. The document showed when police responded to Neumann's home, they noted a strong odor of a chemical accelerant, and Neumann told them Conklin typically drives his truck, and he had been out with Conklin "last night," and Conklin failed to show up to work that day.

On Jan. 4, Conklin's girlfriend was told Conklin was involved in an accident with one of Neumann's work vehicles and he was missing.

The document showed police later spoke with Neumann's wife, who was "visibly emotional and shaking," as she reported her husband may have killed someone on Jan. 2. While she was speaking with police, she received texts from Matthew Neumann, who indicated he was packing up his clothes and leaving for Florida, the document said.

Matthew Neumann

Neumann's wife said her daughter saw the surveillance video of the truck fire in Milwaukee on the news, and texted her, "Do you think this is Dad?" Tammy said she watched the video multiple times and said this was probably her husband.

On Jan. 4, the document showed police were asked to check the welfare of Robert Hajduk by his girlfriend, who said she had not heard from her boyfriend of 10 years since Jan. 3, when he was at Spot Free Cleaning. The document said Hajduk's vehicle had broken down, and Neumann towed it from Racine, telling Hajduk if he fixed one of Neumann's diesel trucks, he wouldn't have to pay for the tow or fixing his vehicle at the shop. She said Hajduk said he was going to spend a couple days at the shop to fix it, and was trying to get money from Neumann for parts for his diesel truck. Investigators learned Tammy had written him a check for $100. Hajduk's girlfriend said she last saw him on Jan. 2, when he headed to Neumann's shop.

Spot Free Cleaning

Neumann was arrested on Jan. 8, and search warrants were executed on his home and business.

On Jan. 9, the document showed Tammy indicated Matthew Neumann confessed to shooting Conklin because Conklin tried to rob him of his cigarettes.

Prosecutors said Neumann burned the men's bodies in a pit on some hunting property he leased in East Troy. Upon executing a search warrant at the East Troy property, a burn pit was located which contained the charred remains of two individuals, as well as other items including pieces of charcoal and charcoal bags -- and a Spot Free Cleaning trailer next to the burn pit. A witness reported a large fire there -- either on the afternoon of Jan. 3 or Jan. 4.

A criminal complaint filed against Neumann made reference to surveillance video from the Home Depot store in Mukwonago -- near the Walworth County property on County Road J.  The complaint said Neumann was seen in the video around 11 a.m. on Jan. 3 purchasing charcoal, lighter fluid and two-by-fours. The next day, Neumann and another person purchased more charcoal, a door, and two more containers of lighter fluid, the complaint said. Cellphone tower data showed Neumann in the vicinity of the Walworth County property on Jan. 2, Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, the complaint said.

Neumann on Jan. 15 was charged with first degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, two counts of hiding a corpse, and one count of first degree reckless homicide. He has a jury trial scheduled for June.