FBI: Man wanted in strangling of Austin mother more than 30 years ago
AUSTIN, Texas — The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of a man investigators believe strangled a 22-year-old mother more than 30 years ago.
Robert Van Wisse, 51, has been added to the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, the bureau announced Tuesday morning.
Officials said Van Wisse is being sought for his alleged involvement in the attack and murder of a young woman on Sept. 20, 1983. He should be considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said.
The Austin Police Department responded to a deceased person call and found the body of Laurie Stout in an office building. The woman’s death was later ruled a homicide due to strangulation and asphyxia, the release said. Stout had been working a late-night shift cleaning the building when she was murdered.
Investigators said the victim was a daughter, sister, wife and mother to a 19-month-old baby daughter.
“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,” Acting U.S. Marshal David Sligh said. “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.”
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 left the Austin area when he learned he was being evaluated as a murder suspect.
On October 3, 1996, a state arrest warrant was issued for Van Wisse by the state of Texas, Travis County, after he was charged with murder. On March 6, 1997, Van Wisse was also charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and a federal warrant was issued by the United States District Court, Western District of Texas, Austin.
“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,” agent Christopher Combs of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office said. “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.”
FBI officials said 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.
The suspect has gone by several alias 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.
Investigators said the suspect is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs around 180 pounds and speaks fluent Spanish and English.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Robert Van Wisse. Anyone with information concerning Van Wisse should call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).