Fugitive on FBI ‘most wanted’ list for ’83 Texas murder surrenders

Robert Van Wisse, wanted since 1996 in connection with the 1983 suffocation death of Laurie Stout, turned himself in to authorities at the Mexico-U.S. border on Thursday afternoon. Officials did not say whether he'd come from the Mexico or United States side of the border crossing in Laredo. Van Wisse, added to the FBI's Most Wanted list in December 2016, has been thought for several years to be hiding in Mexico or South America. Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigation

Jan. 27 (UPI) — A man wanted in connection with the 1983 death of a woman at an Austin, Texas, office building, who was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list in December, turned himself in to authorities on Thursday.

Robert Francis Van Wisse surrendered to officials at the U.S.-Mexico border early Thursday afternoon, more than 20 years after police charged him with murder in connection with the death of University of Texas student Laurie Stout.

Federal law enforcement officials said Van Wisse turned himself in just before 2 p.m. at the Laredo Juarez-Lincoln Port of Entry Inspection Station, though they did not say whether he’d been on the United States or Mexico side of the border.

Van Wisse was considered to have been potentially dangerous, which is why the FBI decided to put him on the list in December.

“If he committed a brutal murder like this in 1983, he is very, very able to commit a murder again,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said when the agency put him on the list last month, with a $100,000 reward.

Stout, who was 22, married and had a year-old daughter, was a late-night janitor when she was found dead in a men’s restroom at an office building in the Texas capital. Police said she was sexually assaulted and suffocated.

Police determined Van Wisse was the last person seen in the office building before Stout was killed, but charges were not filed until 1996 because of outdated methods of DNA analysis and mismanaged records.

Van Wisse was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in early 1997, when police say they believe he’d fled to Mexico or South America to avoid being tried on the charges.

Van Wisse, the second person from the Austin area to be added to the most wanted list, is being held at the Travis County Jail.


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