Murder, incest top testimony from witness

The prosecution’s key witness in Ryan Wyngarden’s double murder trial said she covered up her husband’s confession for more than a quarter-century to protect her life and her children.
The Holland Sentinel
Mar 14, 2014

Pam Wyngarden, wife of defendant Ryan Wyngarden, testified for about three hours Thursday — sometimes hesitantly, sometimes with laser-like focus and often in tears — about keeping the secret from friends, family and police about the deaths of Gail and Rick Brink in 1987.

“I wanted to protect my kids,” she said. “The kids were a factor, the new job I started, the threat of going to jail. I was afraid.”

After a long pause, she added, “I was afraid of losing them.”

Pam Wyngarden’s testimony for the prosecution continues today, and the defense then has a chance to cross-examine her.

The trial began Tuesday in Ottawa County Circuit Court. It’s scheduled to continue for two more weeks.

Ryan Wyngarden, 52, is facing two charges of first-degree premeditated murder. If found guilty, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Zeeland man was arrested Jan. 21, 2013, three days after his wife told police he confessed to the shootings in Park Township in 1987.

Ryan Wyngarden shook his head during most of his wife’s testimony, leaning over often to speak with his attorneys. His quiet demeanor was in contrast to outbursts during a preliminary hearing last year when he had to be removed from the courtroom.

Pam Wyngarden said her husband — who was her boyfriend in 1987 — came to her apartment in Holland the morning after the murders and confessed. Ryan Wyngarden was upset and held his head.

“That’s when he told me he shot Rick and Gail,” she said. “I asked him to repeat it because I couldn’t believe it. He repeated it.”

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