Milwaukee Co. business owner charged in arson investigation

Matthew Neumann
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FRANKLIN, Wis. (WMTV)--- A Franklin resident and business owner has been charged after human remains were found in a burn pit in Walworth County on Thursday.

The Franklin Police Department said, 43-year-old Mathew J. Neumann has been charged with first degree reckless homicide - party to a crime and hiding a corpse - party to a crime.

Police said an arson investigation was conducted by the Milwaukee Police Department in early January that led to a report of the disappearance of two missing men.

Police said evidence led to the execution of numerous search warrants at Neumann’s home, Franklin business and a vacant farm house and land which he leased for hunting. The vacant farm house is located on County Road J in the Town of East Troy. It was at the East Troy property, a burn pit was found which contained human remains. Investigators are in the process of identifying those victims.

According to a criminal complaint, a Milwaukee police officer responded to a vehicle fire on 8th Street on Jan. 2. The fire was extinguished by the Milwaukee Fire Department. The fire department indicated that the fire was suspicious in origin, but it was not known what type of accelerant was used. Neumann was listed as the owner of the vehicle.

The complaint said Franklin police made contact with Neumann at his Franklin home on Jan 2. The officer noticed a strong odor of chemical accelerant once Neumann let the officer inside the home.

The complaint goes on to say that members of the Milwaukee Police Department ant ATF processed the vehicle belonging to Neumann. Detectives discovered a bullet hole and strike on the B pillar of the passenger side of the vehicle. Using a trajectory rod, detectives determined that the bullet stuck the B pillar was traveling from the driver’s seat area of the vehicle.

The complaint said Franklin Police recovered security video from Home Depot in Mukwonago. The video depicts Neumann alone on Jan. 3 at 10:58 a.m. He was purchasing four bags of charcoal, lighter fluid and eight 2X4’s. Then on Jan.4, the video depicts Neumann and another person purchasing five additional bags of charcoal, a door and two more containers of lighter fluid.

The complaint said a witness came forward to report a large fire on the property on County Road J around 3:20 p.m. on either Jan 3. or Jan. 4.

Photo Credit: WITI