Business owner sentenced for slayings of 2 employees

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A former Franklin business owner was sentenced Thursday to 72 years in prison for killing his two employees and burning their bodies in a fire pit.

Matthew Neumann, 44, maintained his innocence at his sentencing, drawing gasps in the courtroom as he denied responsibility for the deaths of 40-year-old Robert Hajduk of Racine and 35-year-old Richard Conklin of Milwaukee.

Conklin's remains have not been positively identified, and Neumann said at his sentencing that he hopes that Conklin is alive and well in Mexico, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

"The character you have shown in this case is not human. I see nothing good about you,” Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey A. Wagner told Neumann as he handed down his sentence.

In December, Neumann was convicted of two counts each of first-degree reckless homicide and hiding a corpse.

The victims were employed by Neumann at his commercial cleaning business, Spot Free Cleaning, in Franklin before disappearing within a day and a half of each other in early January 2019. Human remains were discovered about a week later in a fire pit on hunting property Neumann leased in rural Walworth County.

Hajduk’s remains have since been positively identified, but prosecutors said Thursday that those believed to be Conklin’s are so badly damaged they will never receive scientific confirmation.