Many crimes in the United States go unsolved, families do not get closure and the victims do not get justice. This case is one of those, it remains unsolved and after 7 victims and 53 years, it may remain a cold case forever. It’s possible that the perpetrator is still alive, it’s possible that they may be incarcerated, or moved to another location. We may never know. Here is the case of the Capital City Murders.
1968, Madison, Wisconsin – The first body is discovered on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, with 14 stab wounds. Christine Rothschild had been strangled and her upper and lower jaws had been broken, her gloves were pushed into her throat. She was found in the bushes next to Sterling Hall, Christine resided in a different dormitory.
1976, Cross Plains, Wisconsin – A village west of Madison Wisconsin, a body was found in a gully. The charred and decomposed remains of Debra Bennett were discovered; and during her autopsy it was discovered that she had been dead for at least 10 days. Her dental records had enabled her to be identified. She had been staying at the Cardinal Hotel in Madison; and three weeks after her body was discovered, the key to her hotel room was mailed to the hotel, no note, return address or ID marks. Debra’s cause of death is unknown.
1978, Waunakee, Wisconsin – Just outside of Madison, sits the village of Waunakee. Julie Ann Hall was found in a shallow grave along the side of the road. She had been dead for at least 3 days. Cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. She worked on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, and there were no suspects or evidence pointing towards her killer.
1979, Madison, Wisconsin – Julie Speerschneider disappeared in 1979 when leaving a bar. Her body was not found until 2 years later in 1981. Her body was found in Dunn, Wisconsin, southeast from Madison. Her body was too decomposed to determine a cause of death. No clothes, shoes, or jewelry were found with her remains.
1980, Westport, Wisconsin – Shirley Stewart was found in a wooded area in Westport. A small suburb of Madison. She had disappeared after leaving work and when her body was discovered she was very decomposed preventing the coroner to determine the exact cause of death.
1982, Madison, Wisconsin – Donna Mraz was stabbed a number of times while walking home from work, near Camp Randall Stadium. She was not sexually assaulted, and her money, paycheck and keys all were found with her body. A witness saw Donna stumble to the street but never saw the killer. She was exhumed two years later to compare bitemarks on a possible suspect, but no arrests were made.
1984, Buena Vista, Wisconsin – The body of a partially clad young woman, was found by hunters in a wooded area southeast of Highway 54. The remains were identified to be that of fourth year student at the University of Wisconsin, Janet Raasch. She was last seen in October of 1984 and discovered about a month later, she had been dead for a week to ten days when found.
Sadly in the 2010’s, it was discovered that evidence in many cases had been discarded or lost by the Dane County Sheriff’s Department. Key evidence in this series of murders was diluted or lost by police. The evidence for both Shirley and Christine had been compromised or lost completely. As of 2021, no arrests have been made and no new leads have been discovered. The cases remain open.
Be ever alert, make good choices, stay safe