Coldest cases haunt detectives - dead ends are not uncommon

By Doug Schneider
Green Bay Press-Gazette

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Her photograph is curling at the edges. Newspaper clippings about her killing have started to yellow. It has been more than 26 years since the August day Lisa Holstead’s body was found in a Green Bay marsh.

Robert Haglund is convinced that someone, somewhere, remembers that day as if it were yesterday.

“People know something,” said Haglund, who retired last year as a detective after more than 30 years on the Green Bay Police Department. “But someone had to come forward and talk.”

Someone strangled Holstead in August 1986, leaving her lifeless body in a marsh in a northwest side industrial park. Her killer has never been made to answer for the crime. Her slaying — labeled Green Bay Police Department case 14-47 — is the longest-running homicide investigation in Brown County, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.

The Green Bay woman was 22 years old on the last day she was seen alive, bolting from her boyfriend’s car at a west side intersection during an argument. She may have met someone at a bar along the way; may have caught a ride from a stranger. Her boyfriend said she never made it to their west side apartment.

Authorities believe she was killed and then her body was brought to the marsh. The murder weapon, investigators say, was a piece of her own clothing.

“This was a brutal homicide, and it bothers me that it’s still unsolved,” said Brad Linzmeier, the Green Bay detective who became the lead investigator on the case after Haglund retired. “Her family and friends should know that we have not forgotten.”

Similar messages echo from local police on other unsolved crimes.

• Sheriff’s investigators continue to believe that interviews with the friends and associates of Douglas McMillin of Allouez may lead them to the man who shot him in his townhouse in 2009, likely in a drug-related robbery attempt. Although they have interviewed friends, neighbors and people who
know the local drug culture, they acknowledge that they don’t seem close to arresting his killer.

• Detectives say they will bring Thomas Wick’s killer to justice. The Howard businessman was found shot to death in his home in February 2012. Because Wick had no apparent money problems, drug issues or criminal connections, the motive remains unclear, said Capt. Jeff Sanborn, who heads the department’s investigative division.

• Local police continue to hope that they will catch a break in the disappearance and suspected homicide of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student Amber Wilde, whose car and cell phone were found outside an Ashwaubenon bar in 1998.

The Holstead case has not been without incremental developments, even today.

Authorities say they have developed a “DNA profile” — a biological fingerprint — of someone who may be the killer or a witness to the killing. That DNA, however, does not match anyone on record in the criminal justice system. Materials collected from the investigation have been sent back to the state crime lab in Madison in the hope that new technology will yield different results than the previous time they were analyzed. Linzmeier’s team this winter interviewed two people who “relayed information” related to the case.

But those leads have not yet yielded a solution.

Holstead’s family could not be reached for comment.

Frustrating dead ends are not uncommon in long-running cases, Sanborn said. Witnesses leave the area. Memories fade. Consciences fail to clear.
“Lots can change over time,” Sanborn told an interviewer inside his Bellevue office. “Memories get fuzzy, people move away, people die.

“The further you get from the death, the harder it can be to solve.”

Haglund is convinced that Lisa Holstead’s killer remains out there — alive — and that others may know his identity and details about her slaying.
“People in Green Bay don’t forget a football game,” Haglund said. “They’re not going to forget details about a homicide.”