Plea set for fugitive on FBI’s most wanted list in Austin cold case


Highlights

Police found Laurie Stout’s body the morning of Sept. 20, 1983, during her cleaning shift at an office building

FBI officials believe the attack on Stout, who was sexually assaulted and strangled, was premeditated.

A slaying suspect who authorities say eluded justice by fleeing to Mexico 30 years ago — and who was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list in December — is set to plead guilty in the case later this month, the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV learned Tuesday.

A hearing for Robert Van Wisse, 52, is set for March 28 in the death of 22-year-old Laurie Stout — three months after Van Wisse turned himself in to authorities at the Mexico border near Laredo.

Details of the agreement are being kept confidential by Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore and Van Wisse’s attorney, Perry Minton.

Moore on Tuesday confirmed the court setting but declined to comment further on the case until after that date.

Minton said in a statement, “Our client contacted us to return and hopefully bring this family some closure on an unspeakable tragedy. Our goal is to resolve this without a trial and we are working to do just that.”

Austin police found Stout’s body the morning of Sept. 20, 1983, during her cleaning shift at an office building. Medical examiners ruled that she had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Stout had a 1-year-old daughter at the time.

Homicide investigators questioned Van Wisse but were unable to link him to the crime. However, cold case investigators in the mid-1990s found new evidence that police said placed Van Wisse at the crime scene.

Investigators in Travis County issued a warrant for Van Wisse’s arrest in October 1996. Another warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution followed in 1997.

On Dec. 13, the FBI added him to the most wanted list.

That day, Stout’s daughter, Daile, joined authorities and relatives to call for the public to help find him.

“I will never be able to fully express the hole of loneliness and emptiness that is left in my chest because my mother was taken away from me when I was only an infant. What I can tell you is that my mom wanted nothing more in the world than to become a mother,” she said. “She had approximately one year to live life as a normal family before her life was taken from her.”

FBI officials have said that investigators first thought Van Wisse had acted impulsively but later said that they changed their opinion, believing the crime was premeditated.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Texas House votes again to move forward on tree bill Abbott vetoed
Texas House votes again to move forward on tree bill Abbott vetoed

Texas House members voted Thursday to advance a bill that would lower the fees that cities require for tree removal — a measure similar to one Gov. Greg Abbott already vetoed, while a bill the governor requested for the special session remains stalled in committee. House Bill 7 would require cities charging tree removal fees to allow the planting...
Community news: Volunteer to help Travis County victims

TRAVIS COUNTY TRAVIS COUNTY Volunteer to help victims The Travis County sheriff’s office’s victim services unit is seeking volunteers to provide immediate assistance to victims of criminal and crisis circumstances. Volunteers must complete a comprehensive training program that is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to...
NEW DETAILS: Lightning strikes cost more than $1 million in damage to Leander homes
NEW DETAILS: Lightning strikes cost more than $1 million in damage to Leander homes

Lightning strikes caused more than a $1 million in fire damage to three Leander homes during Monday’s storm, according to the Leander Fire Department. A home in the 3500 block of Goodnight Trail has $600,000 in estimated damage, and damage is estimated at $270,000 for a house in the 2000 block of Lookout Range, the department said in a news release...
House gives preliminary OK on stricter abortion reporting requirements
House gives preliminary OK on stricter abortion reporting requirements

In its first day of bill voting on supplemental items on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda, the House on Thursday gave preliminary approval, 97-46, on a bill that would require stricter reporting of abortion complications. House Bill 13 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, would require abortion providers and health care facilities...
JUST IN: Mobile Loaves & Fishes homes to get $2 million grant from Downtown Austin Alliance
JUST IN: Mobile Loaves & Fishes homes to get $2 million grant from Downtown Austin Alliance

An affordable housing development operated by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes will receive a $2 million grant from Downtown Austin Alliance, the groups announced Thursday. The money is the largest gift ever from Downtown Alliance and the largest for Mobile Loaves & Fishes in Austin, which serves the area’s homeless population...
More Stories