Half brother accused of killing autistic Wis. man

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm •  Published: December 5, 2012
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MAZOMANIE, Wis. (AP) — Matthew Graville couldn't read well or remember numbers. He could drive his friends crazy with his incessant talking. But all he really wanted, by all accounts, was to fit in.

When detectives found the 27-year-old autistic man's body buried in the woods months after he disappeared, they uncovered what investigators say was a horrific story of family violence. His half brother, Jeffrey Vogelsberg, had repeatedly tortured and abused Graville, prosecutors say, and the beatings finally went too far.

"(Vogelsberg) is someone who deserves to be hung up ... and left to be tortured," said Richard Swangstu, who befriended Graville when they were teenagers living in a foster home. "Matt was a brother to me. I didn't lose a friend. I lost family."

Vogelsberg is charged with first-degree intentional homicide. An extradition hearing in Washington state, where Vogelsberg moved after Graville's death last summer, is scheduled for Thursday.

Vogelsberg's attorney, Lisa Contris, didn't return several messages, and Vogelsberg didn't respond to a letter requesting an interview.

Another man who owned the house where Vogelsberg and Graville lived is accused of helping hiding Graville's body.

Robert McCumber told investigators he went to bed listening to Vogelsberg beat Graville in the bathroom, but he also said the beatings were nothing new. When he woke up on July 1, Graville was dead on his couch; Vogelsberg was gone — on his way to Missouri to see his wife graduate from U.S. Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood.

Graville was born with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism marked by an inability to read social cues, repetitive routines and clumsiness. Criminals have long preyed on the disabled. The violent victimization rate for the disabled 2010 was 28 per 1,000 people, almost twice the rate among non-disabled people, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Still, Graville's case left Wisconsin investigators shocked.

"In 33 years, 25 as a detective, I find it difficult to find another case where an individual took advantage of a developmentally disabled male for their own entertainment," Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney told reporters at a news conference to announce the charges. "Matthew lived a living hell."

Graville's early life is murky. At some point he ended up foster care. Those records are confidential and his biological mother, Vicki Graville, declined to comment, saying she doesn't want to jeopardize the investigation into her son's death.

When he was 16 or 17, Graville moved into a foster home, where he roomed with Swangstu. At first Graville drove him "up the wall" with his incessant talking, Swangstu said, but as he learned more about Asperger's, he took Graville under his wing. They went to high school together and they worked at the local McDonald's.

Graville was happy, Swangstu said. He loved listening to rap music, watching funny movies, whittling walking sticks or sitting outside.

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