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.