APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – A former Manitowoc County resident who was recently charged with killing an Appleton woman back in 1988 made a court appearance on Monday afternoon.

66-year-old Gene Meyer, who is charged with 1st-Degree Murder and 1st-Degree Sexual Assault with the Use of a Dangerous Weapon, had his bail/bond hearing at the Outagamie County Courthouse, where his bond was set for $2 million.

According to the criminal complaint, On November 7, 1988, around 11 a.m., officers were sent to 1338 West Spencer Street for a missing person.

Around 15 minutes later, an officer found the missing person, identified as Betty Rolf, under the bridge of West Spencer Street. An autopsy found evidence of blunt trauma to the head, strangulation, and multiple skin abrasions. The death was ruled a homicide.

In September 2001, DNA analysis was done on swabs taken from the victim. 18 years later, in 2019, a familial DNA search was done. This uses specialized software to detect and statistically rank a list of potential candidates in the DNA database who may be close biological relatives of the DNA profile.

The profile of the unknown person was associated with the lineage of Gene Meyer. Investigators determined that the only possible suspects were Gene himself and his brother. His brother was eventually ruled out as a suspect.

Authorities reportedly spoke with a niece of Gene who said he called and said ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you for everything’. The complaint said her mother told her, ‘I have a secret… I have a secret… and it’s going to go in my grave.’

Gene was eventually found to be living in the state of Washington. Agents from the FBI Office in Olympia, Washington, were asked to surveil Gene in order to get a DNA sample from him.

On November 21, 2022, FBI agents were reportedly able to get DNA swabs from the door handle of Gene’s truck. The DNA profile ended up matching the DNA that was collected during the autopsy.

Meyer is charged with the following:

  • 1st-Degree Murder
    • Felony
    • Life in prison
  • 1st-Degree Sexual Assault, Use of a Dangerous Weapon
    • Felony
    • Up to 20 years in prison

Meyer will be back in court on February 28 for his preliminary hearing.

No additional details were provided, and Local 5 News will update this when more information is made available.