Nearly 40 Years Later, Justice Starts to Avenge Death of Security Guard

A 75-year-old man was arrested at a group home and charged Friday with murdering a night watchman during a robbery at a car dealership nearly 40 years ago.

District Attorney Carrie Schneider said authorities decided to charge Robert D. Mitchell after he recently confirmed information that investigators had gotten from others.

In court papers, authorities said Mitchell had confessed to involvement in the crime to a friend and a girlfriend.

"Mr. Mitchell has been a person of interest all along. He has been cooperative," Sheriff Brad Gehring said.

Mitchell, who spent the majority of his time since the 1968 murder in prison for other offenses, was arrested Thursday and appeared in court Friday in a wheelchair. His attorneys said they would seek a competency exam to determine whether Mitchell could help in his defense. He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted

Martin J. Jansen, 34, was shot twice in the head with a shotgun in 1968 when he interrupted a burglary at a Buick dealership in the town of Grand Chute, where he worked as a part-time night watchman and janitor.

Authorities said Mitchell, then 37, broke a window to get into the dealership and stole about $500 from a safe in the manager's office. The watchman apparently had already left the dealership, realized he had left some medicine on a windowsill and went back to get it, stumbling onto the burglary, authorities said.

Mitchell told investigators he knew the watchman left between midnight and 12:30 a.m., and he would not have gone in if the man had been there.

Mitchell robbed a bank about a month after the slaying and went to prison.

A decade after the slaying, Mitchell's girlfriend told investigators she visited Mitchell in prison and asked him if he killed the night watchman, and he admitted it, according to court papers.

Also, a friend of Mitchell's told investigators Mitchell came to his home on the morning of the killing with what looked like blood on his coat and said he had "done the job."

Jansen's sister, Tillie Stuyvenberg, 87, carried some newspaper clippings about his death into the courthouse Friday.

"He is going to be at peace, my brother," she said.


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