MADISON, Wis. - Two people accused of hiding the body of an autistic Mazomanie man who had been missing since June made first court appearance in Dane County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
The prosecution described the death of Matthew Graville, 27, as a "blessing," given how much torture he endured over a prolonged period.
Laura Robar, 49, of Fort Atkinson, Graville's stepmother, is accused of identity theft and hiding a corpse.
In court, prosecutors said Robar confessed to the crimes, including abusing the disability support and finances her stepson collected for having Asperger's syndrome.
In court documents, Robar said she had "taken Matt's card and used it without his permission on two occasions at Woodman's grocery store," and she knew using it was wrong, calling herself "stupid."
A judge on Wednesday set a $100,000 cash bond for Robar.
The judge also set a $100,000 cash bond for Robert McCumber, 28, of Mazomanie, who is also accused of hiding a corpse. Authorities said McCumber owned the land where Graville's body was hidden.
This week, McCumber led deputies to Graville's frozen, nearly naked body in a 5-foot-deep grave in a wooded area of public land near Highway 130 south of Lone Rock.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Graville was tortured and abused by his half-brother who killed him, froze his body in a freezer and then buried it near Mazomanie last July.
"As a result of interviews, it was learned this life, Matthew's life, was filled with torture, physical and mental abuse and, subsequently, death," Mahoney said.
Jeffrey Vogelsberg, 28, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse. The sheriff said Graville lived with his half-brother in Mazomanie before Vogelsberg moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington with his wife, who's in the Army.
Vogelsberg is in custody in Washington. According to the criminal complaint, Vogelsberg's wife, a military police officer, knew about the crime.
According to court documents, McCumber said it was Vogelsberg's idea to freeze Graville's body first. In the court documents, McCumber detailed "serious, physical altercations" between Graville and Vogelsberg that also included water boarding.
According to the criminal complaint, McCumber found Graville's body on the couch on July 1, the morning after "one of the worst beatings (he) heard Matt take."
The complaint said Vogelsberg was out of town and told McCumber to "wrap Graville's body in plastic and put him in the freezer."
Graville and his half-brother were living at McCumber's home in Mazomanie with the Vogelsberg family, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Tanner Furry, a neighbor who lives near McCumber's property, said he saw Graville with injuries.
"Yeah, I'd seen him have a broken nose a few times. I didn't know if that was from him or his brother or what happened. I know he had a broken nose a couple of times," Furry said.
Robar was fired Wednesday from her job at Dane County Human Services, WISC-TV reported. Investigators said the card Robar stole from Graville was obtained through that department.
Dane County Human Services didn't comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Dominique Vail, Graville's sister, has vowed to be in court as the case moves forward.
"Everybody loved Matthew. Everywhere we went, everyone liked him, and he's a person to get along with, and he was caring. And if you need the shirt off his back, he'd just give it to you," Vail said.
Graville's biological family said it's planning a candlelight vigil sometime in the future to honor him.
McCumber and Robar are due back in court Nov. 14.
Prosecutors said more charges could be filed in this ongoing investigation.
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