I don’t think I will ever find the end of cases from Wisconsin, so as long as I keep finding them, I will keep sharing them with you. This case goes back to 1984, and takes place around the Milwaukee area in Ozaukee County. However it wouldn’t be solved for 35 years, and the team that solved the Golden Gate Killer would step in to assist.
December 14, 1984 Traci Hammerberg was babysitting in Saukville, WI. She had plans for later than night to attend a party with some friends. After her babysitting job was over, she walked to the nearby grocery store to meet her friends. The group then drove to Port Washington, WI, approximately 7 miles away and went to Quade’s Tavern where Traci informed the bartender that she was going to a party that night in Grafton. Grafton was approximately 6.4 miles away.
Traci’s plans wouldn’t take her far from home, and she was raised in the area so she knew it, and going with friends she didn’t think anything dire was going to happen. At the party in Grafton, Traci and her friends played a beer drinking game and smoked marijuana. Around 12.30am on December 15, Traci left the party to walk home, it was 3.7 miles away.
Traci didn’t make it home. At some time in the early morning hours as she was walking home, Traci was raped, strangled, and died of head injuries. Her body was partially clothed and was found the next morning in a snowy driveway on Maple Road in Grafton.
Ozaukee County police investigated and they weren’t sure if she had been killed where she was found or moved to that location. The object that was used to inflict her head injuries was determined to be metalic.
Over 400 men were investigated and eliminated from the case, there wasn’t a break until 2019, 35 years later. Police began by building a DNA profile of her killer based on the blood from underneath her fingernails, and the semen recovered from the scene. In March of 2019, police began searching genealogy databases, and also reached out to the Los Angeles FBI team that solved the Golden State Killer using the forensic genealogy technology.
With their assistance the police were able to identify Philip Cross through a second cousin. Traci and her family would get closure, but would not get justice, Philip Cross died in 2012 of a drug overdose.
It’s exciting to see how much DNA and genealogy technology can help solve cases, especially those that have gone cold for decades. Who knows, maybe we will eventually know who the Zodiac Killer is as well.
Stay Curious my Friends!