Intense Testimony in Ottawa Co. Cold Case Murder Trial

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich (March 13, 2014) – The wife of a man accused of killing his sister and brother-in-law testified against her husband on Thursday.

Pam Wyngarden was brought tears several times throughout her testimony.

With her husband Ryan Wyngarden staring back at her from across the courtroom, she told the jury that he admitted to her that he killed Gail and Rick Brinks, just one day after committing the crimes back on Saturday, Nov. 23, 1987.

“The next time I saw him was Sunday morning at 9 o’clock when he came knocking on my door upset,” Pam Wyngarden said. “He was holding his head, he walked into the apartment, sat on the couch and I asked him, ‘Why are you upset?’ and that’s when he told me that he shot Rick and Gail.”

The case went cold after the couple was gunned down at their home in Holland.

Nearly 25 years later, in January 2013, Ryan Wyngarden was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder.

At the time of the murder, Pam and Ryan Wyngarden were not married. Pam told the jury that after her husband admitted to the killings, that he asked her to go back to his house with him, but that they stopped by Rick and Gail’s home first.

She said her infant son was with them and that they parked the car down the street. With her son in her arms, Pam said the three of them walked up to the Brinks’ home.

“We stopped at Rick’s truck and that’s when I saw Rick,” Pam said. “Then, Ryan grabbed my wrists, walked into the house to the bedroom and that’s where I saw Gail.”

Then, Pam said Ryan threatened her, causing her to run out the door.

“He lifted up the pillow and said to me ‘If you go to the police or tell anybody what I did here this could happen to you,” Pam said.

Following the threat, Pam said she went back to their car and that Ryan joined her and her son a few minutes later.

That night, Pam said they went back to Ryan’s house, where she slept next to her son in a different room from Ryan, her-then boyfriend.

The following morning, Pam said someone arrived at the home, to tell them what happened to Gail and Rick.  She said Ryan manufactured an alibi and asked her to stick to it.

“He said to me that, the alibi, what we are going to tell the police is that we were at (a friend’s) house doing laundry, watching the kids, ” Pam said.

It’s a story Pam stood by for years. She said fear that Ryan would follow through on his threat to harm her, kept her quiet. She also said she didn’t want her children to know what their father had done.

She said Ryan bagged up the clothes he was wearing the night of the murders, and tossed them in the back of his car, along with the gun he used. She said during the testimony that she wasn’t sure where he disposed of it.

A few days after the murders, Pam said, she and Ryan attended Gail and Rick’s funeral, together.

“I felt like I had to brush it under the rug to not show people what I knew,” Pam said.

It wasn’t just what Ryan did that Pam kept a secret. She also carried, for years, the reason why she said he told her he did it.

“He told me the reason why, is he was jealous and that he had a sexual relationship with his sister,” Pam said. “He just said that he was jealous that Gail and Rick…their relationship with each other…marriage.”

Pam continued to say that Ryan also told her he didn’t want Rick to find out about the alleged sexual relationship he had with Gail.

Over the years, she said Ryan began turning to God.

“He would go to church every Sunday, I’ve never seen him like that,” Pam said.

But, as time went on, Pam said Ryan got away from the church and began drinking heavily and using marijuana.

Over the years, Pam said Ryan told stories to several people about how he thought a motorcycle gang was responsible for the slayings.

“He wanted to blame somebody else and take the focus off him,” Pam said.

Pam and Ryan got married after the murders and had three children. She said she stuck by her husband, because despite it all, she still loved him. She also said she feared she’d go to jail after after lying to police about where her husband was at the time of the murders.

The court was adjourned while the prosecution was still questioning Pam. She’s expected to be back on the stand Friday morning where the defense will get a chance to cross-examine her.

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