Former University of Texas student Robert Van Wisse, 41, who’s been a fugitive since he was named in a murder warrant stemming from the strangulation of a 22-year-old woman in 1983 in Austin is still on the run.
“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.
Van Wisse is wanted in the Sept. 20, 1983 murder of Laurie Stout, who was sexually assaulted and strangled with a wire, authorities said.
Stout’s body was found the next morning in a restroom of the building where she was working a late-night cleaning shift.
Laurie Stout was married and the mother of a 1-year-old daughter.
Van Wisse was a UT student and at the time of the murder was in the building registering for a course.
He was one of the last people seen in the building before the murder and he’s believed to have left Austin after he learned he was a possible suspect.
The case went cold until the early 1990s when an Austin police detective submitted evidence from the crime scene for new DNA tests, the results of which “pointed directly to Van Wisse,” said Special Agent Justin Noble, a member of the FBI’s Central Texas Violent Crimes Task Force in Austin, who is investigating the case.
“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 said “and yet it appears he murdered a young woman making minimum wage trying to support her family and young child.”
“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.”
On Oct. 3, 1996, Van Wisse was named in a state murder warrant and in March 1997 he was also charged with lawful flight to avoid prosecution and named in a federal warrant, as well.
Van Wisse is known to have used a variety of aliases including Francisco Salas, Roberto Francisco Salas, Robert F. Vanwisse, Robert Wisse, Robert F. Van Wisse, Robert Francis Van Wisse, Robert Francis Vanwise, and Robert Vanwisse, the FBI said.
He was born in Mexico, is about 5-foot-6, weighs about 180 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.
Noble said his Van Wisse’s family owns properties in Mexico and Guatemala.
“He’s a smart guy and he’s bilingual,” Noble said of the fugitive. “He could be anywhere.”
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