DNA, phone evidence led to Burch for Nicole Vanderheyden’s murder


BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – George Steven Burch is now formally charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Nicole Vanderheyden of Ledgeview.

The Virginia man, who goes by the name Steve Burch, was arrested on Sept. 7. At a court hearing last week, a judge ordered Burch be held on a $2 million bond. That bond amount was continued Friday.

The criminal complaint walks the court through a timeline put together by investigators, starting with Vanderheyden and her boyfriend going out to a bar on May 20. They started their night at the Sandlot Bar in Howard, where they got into an argument. Vanderheyden left the bar with some friends.

Her boyfriend was only able to get hold of her once that night, and that was the last time they ever spoke.

Vanderheyden’s body was found May 21 in a field in Bellevue about three miles from the Ledgeview home she shared with her boyfriend. When people working in that field found the body, she was wearing only a pink wristband and one sock. An autopsy indicated she was strangled and brutally beaten, and ultimately died from a blow to the head. Given her extensive injuries, investigators believe she died before her body was put in the field.

Her boyfriend was arrested for her murder but released weeks later due to a lack of evidence.

In the criminal complaint, DNA was recovered of one of her socks that tests showed could only have come from a male. It was put through a national database, called CODIS, and a match led police to George Burch, who had a prior criminal history. Once police identified him as a suspect, they looked through his phone and pieced together the rest of the timeline.

Green Bay Police were able to locate Burch because he was involved in a hit-and-run crash in June — just weeks after the murder.

When police searched his phone, GPS coordinates placed him at the bar where Vanderheyden was last seen, then her house, and the field.

Investigators say the only Internet search history they found was for pornography and a news article about Vanderheyden’s murder which had been viewed a number of times.

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