MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee man is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and hiding a corpse in the connection to the death of Emily Rogers.
Prosecutors say Nicholas Matzen, 35, was the father of Rogers' 1-year-old child.
Milwaukee police were called to a home near 25th and Becher on April 30 for a welfare check of Rogers; she and Matzen lived there.
Search for Rogers
A friend had reported Rogers missing after not hearing from her for a few days; she had repeatedly reached out to Rogers on April 28 but did not hear back.
On May 2, a search for Rogers was conducted in the Burnham Park area near where the 23-year-old lived. A close friend told FOX6 News she had found Rogers' phone in some bushes near 36th and Branting.
Milwaukee police blocked off Burnham Park in all directions for most of the afternoon, but did not confirm at the time that the search was connected to Rogers. The same day, police confirmed that Rogers' 1-year-old daughter was found safe after family said the girl was also missing.
Police presence near Milwaukee's Burnham Park
Rogers' mom and dad traveled to Milwaukee from Texas to search for their daughter. On May 3, they and others conducted their own search.
Milwaukee police confirmed that same day that there was reasonable suspicion to believe that Rogers' disappearance was not voluntary, and she may have been the victim of foul play. A squad car was parked outside her home, and a detective was seen getting surveillance video from a nearby convenience store.
Surveillance cameras near the location Emily Rogers was found
On Thursday, May 5, police announced Rogers' body was found in a wooded area behind a building in an industrial park near Clement and Waterford in St. Francis.
Friday, detectives returned to a business next to where Rogers was found to gather surveillance video that might help them piece together who is responsible.
Investigation, Matzen's arrest
Matzen had been arrested for an unrelated matter on April 17 and was released on April 27, charged in a hit-and-run crash. Rogers had planned to break up with him upon his release. Court documents say she had messaged a friend shortly before her death:
- Rogers: I literally had to force him to leave
- Friend: U Ok?
- Rogers: Not exactly.
- Friend: What happened?
- Rogers: I'll call you in a minute
- Rogers: if I can
That cryptic message was the last she would send.
On April 28, the complaint states, a neighbor told the friend that they had seen Matzen on April 28 with scratches on his face. Matzen told the neighbor he was scratched by the friend's dog. The neighbor confirmed that story to police.
In an interview, police spoke to someone who had reportedly spoken with Matzen on April 27. The complaint states Matzen told the person "I (expeletive) up, I hurt her" and that Rogers was dead. Later, the person said Matzen informed them that "the job is done" and they "don't have anything to worry about."
Matzen allegedly told the person he had broken Rogers' neck, per the complaint. An autopsy ruled her cause of death asphyxia in the manner of homicide.
Police spoke to another person who allegedly helped Matzen move Rogers' body. The person told police, the complaint states, that Matzen removed the body in a rug and put the body in the trunk of a car. Matzen told the person to drive to a wooded area near an industrial park, where Rogers' body was ultimately found under a discarded Christmas tree on May 5. The person said Matzen admitted to them that he "lost it" and strangled Rogers.
Nicholas Matzen makes virtual court appearance on May 11
In custody on May 1 for a parole violation, Matzen admitted to police that his "relationship wasn't working out" with Rogers when he returned from custody on April 27, the complaints states. He again asserted that scratches on his face were from the friend's dog. Detectives falsely told Matzen that he was seen on a doorbell camera removing a body from the house. Matzen claimed it was a "400-pound sex doll" but would not say where he took it.
Matzen made his initial court appearance on May 11, and a judge set cash bond at $500,000. He is due back in court next week for a preliminary hearing.