By Shereen Siewert

In her opening statement Tuesday, Marathon County District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon said Cindy Schulz-Juedes’ desire for millions of dollars in life insurance and pristine hunting land was a key factor in her decision to murder her husband.

Cindy Schulz-Juedes confers with her attorney during her murder trial on Oct. 12, 2021. Photo: Jeffrey Decker for Wausau Pilot & Review

Schulz-Juedes, 66, of Chippewa Falls, was formally charged Dec. 13, 2019 with first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the death of her late husband. Ken Juedes was 58 when he was shot to death on Aug. 30, 2006 in his town of Hull home. No other suspects have been charged.

Jury selection began Monday morning and concluded Tuesday afternoon, after which attorneys on both sides gave their opening statements in the month-long trial. Twelve jurors and three alternates were chosen from a pool of 75 candidates after a lengthy selection process. Many questions for potential jurors centered on pretrial publicity.

From their surprise 2004 marriage in Las Vegas to its angry end, Westzeon alleged that Schulz-Juede’s true passion was for money, that she wanted to be a millionaire and killed for it. In steady sequence Wetzsteon listed ever-growing life insurance policies, pointing to a woman who was in the bedroom with a shotgun and not in the camper with just a headache, as she told police in 2006. 

But Schulz-Juedes’ defense attorney, Earl Gray, painted a very different picture and pointed a finger at alternate suspects in the case.

Juedes’ mother, 102-year-old Margaret Juedes, was the first witness to take the stand on Tuesday.

The gallery was near capacity on Tuesday filled with family members, a few curious defense attorneys, an 11-year-old child who attended with his father to see justice at work and at least one would-be juror who had been dismissed, but returned to see what happened next.

Detectives say Juedes’ death weighed heavily on them for years as they tried to piece together enough evidence to arrest his widow, who was a suspect early in the investigation. But without a murder weapon and little physical evidence on which to rely, the investigation hit dead end after dead end. Complicating matters: new theories and claims, including a so-called “confession” from a man who claimed he drove the getaway car when Butch Patrick, a Hollywood actor who portrayed Eddie Munster in the TV series “The Munsters,” shot Ken Juedes. That story was published in May 2013 by The National Enquirer, though the publication removed the story weeks later.

Detectives followed up on the confession but ultimately ruled Patrick out as a suspect. Patrick knew Ken Juedes because he regularly visited Monster Hall Raceway and Campground in Unity, where Juedes was part-owner.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2007 that centered around a $300,000 insurance payout to Schulz-Juedes, which was contested by Juedes’ four children, was resolved in August 2010 before it went to trial. Investigators hoped that the case, had it gone to a jury, would have revealed additional details helpful to their case.

Testimony resumes on Wednesday. Circuit Judge Mike Moran is hearing the case.

Jeffrey Decker assisted in the reporting for this story.