Still No Charges in 2002 Langlade Co. Homicide

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Cathy Nameth, 43, worked as a medical technician and volunteered as an EMT in the idyllic community of Elcho, in Langlade County.

"She loved her family. She loved her children and her husband. She was one of the most caring people I knew," said Jerry Dobbs, who worked with Cathy at the Elcho Fire Department.

On Oct. 12th, 2002, Nameth spent the day running errands, and capped it off at her parents' cottage on Loon Lake. A location her husband David says, was her favorite place on earth, but a place where her life would end.

"Cathy was first of all, able to alert us to the fact that there was a problem on her fire department radio," said Chief Deputy John Schunke of the Langlade County Sheriff's Dept.

"There's a man with a raincoat and he's scruffy looking and...." she said in a panic before her radio cut out.

Those were the last words Cathy uttered on her radio, and what happened next shocked the community.

Cathy was brutally murdered. Evidence at the scene shows she was chased through the property and she used whatever she could to fight off her killer but in the end multiple stab wounds were fatal.

Police canvassed the area and interviewed everyone close to Cathy, including her husband David who told police he, along with their son Nick, found Cathy barely alive just moments after the attack.

David says he asked Cathy who were attacker was and she said she didn't know him. Shortly after, she died.

"We just couldn't belief it. Disbelief. There were several of the people that were on scene that went through a stress debriefing afterward because of trauma and seeing what they experienced," Dobbs said.

Local law enforcement were determined to find out who killed Cathy, and why. The answer, they suspected, could be linked to another crime.

"Theoretically, we looked at this thing wondering what the motive was, where to go and of course when there was another criminal investigation that preceded this one we after wondered if the two were somehow connected," Schunke said.

It led police to the Elcho Fire Department.

"I heard the fire chief was being investigated and all the records from the office were being impounded," said Dobbs.

At the time, the Elcho fire chief was David Nameth. He and Cathy were being investigated for embezzlement from the fire department.

"Shortly after that information was revealed to Cathy that we were aware of that information she called our agency and stated she wanted to come in and give full disclosure on those issues," said Chief Deputy Schunke.

Two days before her scheduled appointment, when law enforcement expected her to reveal details about the embezzlement and maybe more, Cathy was murdered.

Matthew Becker, who also worked at the fire department, initially confessed to the embezzlement. More information led to the Nameths.

David eventually pleaded no contest to theft, disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer in the case.

"When you have a criminal case with the magnitude of the embezzlement case was and then the person comes forward and says I wanna cooperate and a few days later she is dead we'd be amiss if we didn't look at possible connections between the two cases," said Schunke.

But after the embezzlement case was closed, police were no closer to identifying Cathy's killer.

Schunke says investigators have looked at the case every which way possible. They even took advantage of a court proceeding known as John Doe hearings.

They're typically used when an investigation is being thwarted or impeded and can be used to force witnesses to testify in a secret hearing.

"It helps us get testimony or information from people who may not be willing to come forward," Schunke said.

During the secretive proceedings, prosecutors found that two men who they asked to testify, and knew David Nameth, were not being truthful.

Investigators believe they know more than they're letting on.

"Cathy may have known these people, obviously we can't completely confirm that," Schunke said.

The pair were buddies of Matthew Becker's, and police say had knowledge of the Elcho area having spent time there hunting.

"We do have two individuals that during the Doe hearings we felt gave false testimony and the DA Ralph Uttke has issued charges on these individuals and we have had a conviction on one of them," said Schunke.

One of the men, Donald Kustelski, was ordered to cooperate with investigators after being convicted of false swearing. The other man, Brian Schnarsky, will face trial for false swearing next month.

Police say they have a theory as to why Cathy was murdered, but without enough evidence to charge anyone with her murder, they won't say what their theory is.

However, they're hopeful a piece of evidence they did collect will eventually be the final piece of the puzzle.

Key DNA evidence was found at the murder scene. Investigators know Cathy's killer is a man but of all the suspects they've tested so far there's been no match.

"Obviously somebody knows what happened and it's amazing to me in the 9 years that followed this event, which I think has been one of the most heinous events this county ever seen that we get very few phone calls on it," said Schunke.

Though phone calls are not coming in, police are not giving up.

"The individuals, the detectives, the law enforcement officers that are working the case they still take it home wirth them every night. It's still very bothersome to us that this has we haven't seen resolution in this case," said Schunke.

David Nameth declined an interview for this story, but he did tell NewsChannel 7 that he does not know who killed Cathy and not a day goes by where she isn't in his thoughts.

With DNA evidence in their hands, police are hopeful a single piece of information on this case could lead to a match, and a suspect in Cathy Nameth's murder.

If you have any information on this case, call Langlade County Crimestoppers at 715-627-6245.

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