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Cold-case murder solved in Superior

A Superior man has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend 13 years ago.

Michael D. Mattson, 55, faces one charge of first degree murder for the Feb. 19, 1993, beating death of Myrna J. Clemons in their Allouez neighborhood home. He is expected to make his initial appearance in Douglas County Court today.

According to Capt. Chad La Lor, investigations division commander for the Superior Police Department, Mattson confessed to the murder last month. Before that, he had been interviewed in connection with the 13-year-old crime.

"On Oct. 23, he left me a voice mail saying that he was going to come in and confess to the murder," La Lor said today. "And about an hour later, he did that."

Mattson had lived with Clemons for about four years prior to the murder, according to Telegram archives, and had been convicted of two assaults against her. Archives show he was on Huber release from jail he day she was killed.

"This one has a pretty clear domestic relation to it," La Lor said.

Mattson was initially arrested and charged in 1993 with the murder. The charges were subsequently dismissed due to lack of evidence.

"Laymen, when they think of evidence, they're thinking CSI, gathering stuff from the crime scene," La Lor said, "but in the court realm, evidence also includes testimony."

La Lor said the arrest was the result of more than two years of work on the part of the police department and the state Division of Crimnal Investigation.

A number of items of evidence were able to be more thoroughly processed. But interviews were the main framework for the murder charge.

"This is more a case of old-fashioned legwork, as they like to say, getting out and doing the interviews, pressing for the truth," La Lor said.

After checking Mattson's newest statement against interviews given in 1993, La Lor said, the department passed the case to the Douglas County District Attorney's Office for review.

The Clemons case is one of five cold case homicides La Lor delved into during the spring of 2004 at the request of Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters.

"It's one of his priorities," La Lor said. "In law enforcement, you don't want to have cold cases, families out there wondering who, wondering why, not having some semblance of justice in the case."

The investigations have generated two arrests and one conviction so far. In July, Rodger Allen Gran pleaded guilty to the charge of second-degree murder for the 1986 beating death of his mother, Lynnea, at Les' Grocery Store in Billings Park.

The remaining three cases are the 1966 homicide of paperboy Michael Fisher, the 1983 murder of Claude Espeland and the deaths of Mary and Christopher Daly in 1983.

If convicted, La Lor said, Mattson faces life in prison. He has been in custody at the Douglas County Jail since Oct. 23 for a parole violation.

Maria Lockwood writes for the Superior Daily Telegram which is owned by Forum Communications Company, the parent company of this publication.