A Texas man charged with the strangulation murder of a 22-year-old woman in 1983 has been named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, and a reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information leading to his capture.
Robert Francis Van Wisse, a 19-year-old college student at the time of the murder, is now 51 years old and has been on the run for more than two decades.
REWARD of Up to $100,000 Offered
At approximately 8:27 a.m., on September 20, 1983, the Austin Police Department responded to a deceased person call and located the body of Laurie Stout in an office building in Austin, Texas.
Stout’s death was later ruled by the medical examiner a homicide due to strangulation and asphyxia. Stout had been working a late-night shift cleaning the building when she was murdered.
At the time of her death, Stout was only 22 years of age. She was a daughter, sister, wife, and mother to a 19-month-old baby daughter.
On the night of the murder, Van Wisse, who was a student enrolled at the University of Texas-Austin at the time, was in the building registering for a course.
Through investigation, it was determined that Van Wisse was one of the last persons seen in the building before the murder. It is believed that Van Wisse fled the Austin area when he learned he was being evaluated as a murder suspect.
SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS
“No matter how much time has passed,” said Special Agent Justin Noble, a member of the FBI’s Central Texas Violent Crimes Task Force in Austin who is investigating the case, “it’s important that we finally get justice for the victim and her family.”
The victim, worked as a janitor at the University of Texas at Austin. On the September night of the murder, Van Wisse was in the building late registering for a course.
(Hear from the victims family, requesting our help to bring Van Wisse to justice. Courtesy of kxan and YouTube)
The victim’s body was found in a rest room the next morning. An autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a wire. Investigators determined that Van Wisse was the last person seen in the building before the murder.
“He was initially ruled out as a suspect,” Noble explained, “because DNA and other tests were not as sophisticated then as they are today.”
The case went cold for a decade, until the early 1990s, when an Austin Police Department detective submitted crime scene evidence for new DNA tests—tests that took advantage of the latest technology. “The results pointed directly to Van Wisse,” Noble said.
When Van Wisse learned that he was being evaluated again as a suspect, he fled. In 1996, Texas charged the fugitive with capital murder, and the following year he was charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
“Van Wisse has been charged with a violent and brutal murder which took a young woman from her family and deprived a baby girl of her mother’s love forever,” said Christopher Combs, special agent in charge, of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office.
“While the FBI and our partner agencies have worked very hard on this case for many years, we are all deeply committed to pursuing every new lead and conducting a thorough investigation. We will never forget and will not rest until Robert Van Wisse is located, captured, and brought to justice.”
“I would like to thank all our partners that have kept this case active, with the attention it needed, so that justice can be attained for the victim, Laurie Stout, her family, and her friends,” said Chief Manley, APD.
“I would especially like to acknowledge the Austin Police Department Cold Case Unit for the tireless efforts they have committed to this case and investigation. I look forward to the day when Robert Van Wisse is no longer a fugitive.”
“It is a tremendous injustice for the victims, their loved ones, and the entire community when a murder goes unsolved,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety remains committed to the search for Robert Van Wisse, along with any evidence that might bring resolution to this case.”
“We are pleased to see him added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, and we urge anyone with information related to this horrific crime to come forward.”
“Robert Van Wisse has been on the run for more than 30 years, but those years have only made us more determined to bring his run to an end,” said Acting U.S. Marshal David Sligh.
“The collaborative investigative efforts by these premier agencies will leave no stone unturned until Robert Van Wisse is arrested and held to account for this senseless crime that left a young child without a mother. Justice will be served in this case.”
“The Travis County District Attorney’s Office has been working with state and federal authorities to locate this fugitive and return him to Travis County, where he’s been indicted for the 1983 murder of Laurie Stout. We appreciate the diligent effort in continuing to investigate and pursue this defendant so that justice may be served for our community and the family of Laurie Stout,” stated Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
(A man who allegedly strangled and sexually assaulted a young mother is added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Courtesy of the FBI and YouTube)
During the course of this investigation, investigators received tips and leads indicating Van Wisse was in New York City, Washington, D.C., Central Texas, and Mexico. It was previously reported that Van Wisse was working on a coconut and banana plantation and as an English teacher in Mexico.
Van Wisse is described as follows:
|Date(s) of Birth Used||February 3, 1965|
|Place of Birth||Guadalajara, Mexico|
|Occupation||Van Wisse was previously employed as an English teacher in Mexico. He may be employed in the medical field, or he could be working on a coconut and banana plantation in Mexico.|
|Languages||Van Wisse speaks English and Spanish.|
Francisco Salas, Roberto Francisco Salas, Robert F. Vanwisse, Robert Wisse, Robert F. Van Wisse, Robert Francis Vanwise, Robert Vanwisse
SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS
“He was a college student whose parents were both professionals,” Noble said.
“He grew up going to the best schools and living in the nicest neighborhood. He had the future in front of him,” Noble added, “and yet it appears he murdered a young woman making minimum wage trying to support her family and young child.”
When Noble read the original arrest affidavit, he believed the killer had acted impulsively. “But after studying the crime scene reports and autopsy,” he said, “the evidence clearly suggests that this was a premeditated act.”
Noble noted that Van Wisse’s family owns multiple properties in Mexico and in Guatemala. “He’s a smart guy and he’s bilingual,” Noble said of the fugitive. “He could be anywhere.”
At a press conference held today at the federal courthouse in Austin, authorities said the publicity effort to capture Van Wisse will include a social media advertising campaign targeted to specific locations in the U.S. and abroad.
“We have also identified more than 30 individuals who have had close ties to Van Wisse,” Noble said, “and we are going to be in contact with all of them. Somebody knows something, and $100,000 is a lot of money.”
Noble stressed that anyone providing information to the FBI can remain anonymous.
“We need to catch this guy,” he said. “The victim and her family deserve nothing less. It doesn’t matter that the murder took place more than three decades ago—to the victim’s family, it was like it was yesterday.”
Submit a Tip:
If you have information regarding Van Wisse, contact your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or submit a tip on our website.