Austin murder suspect on FBI’s Most Wanted list turns himself in

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin man who was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigations 10 Most Wanted Fugitive List in December in connection with a 1983 murder has turned himself in. The FBI says Robert Francis Van Wisse, 51, turned himself at the Port of Entry in Laredo just before 2 p.m. Thursday.

“He presented himself yesterday at the line. On one line is Mexico, the other line is the United States,” Justin Noble, Special Agent with the FBI said. “He walked up to the line and said, ‘I’m Robert Van Wisse,’ I said, ‘Are you ready to turn yourself in?’ and he said, ‘I am’ and he stepped across and we took him in custody.”

Since the December announcement, law enforcement officers from various agencies have conducted extensive investigation and followed up on numerous leads in an effort to locate and apprehend Van Wisse. Authorities were offering a $100,000 reward for any information on the location of Van Wisse.

Van Wisse’s attorneys, Perry Q. Minton and Rick Flores, say at that time they were approached by FBI agents who wanted to give them the opportunity to reach out to him. His attorneys began negotiations shortly thereafter for their client’s surrender.

Van Wisse is accused of murdering 22-year-old Laurie Stout on Sept. 20, 1983. Stout, who was working as a late-night janitor, was found dead around 8:30 a.m. inside a men’s restroom at a south Austin office building on South First Street. Reports at the time indicated the victim was killed some time after midnight. Police say she was sexually assaulted, strangled and suffocated with a wire. Stout was married and had a 1-year-old daughter at the time.

Stout’s family was present at Friday’s news conference announcing Van Wisse’s capture.

“It’s been a long time, but the time is over,” said one of Stout’s family members. “We’re glad that he’s here.”

Robert Van Wisse mugshot as of Jan. 27, 2017. (Austin Police Department)

Authorities determined Van Wisse, who was 18 years old the year Stout was killed, was in the building the evening before the murder, registering for a course with the University of Texas at Austin. Through the investigation, detectives determined Van Wisse was the last person seen in the building before she was killed.

Stout’s daughter, just 18 months at the time of her mother’s death is shocked with the news of his surrender. “I don’t really know what it feels like, like I spent a very long time thinking that this moment would never happen,” Daile Stout says.

The case remained unsolved until 1992 when a detective decided to take a closer look at the case. KXAN reported in 1996 that when the DPS Crime Lab took DNA samples from him, they mistakenly wrote on a report he was not a match to samples found at the scene. America’s Most Wanted reports the DNA sample had been discounted because of outdated methodology but because his prints were found at the crime scene, it was enough to file charges against him.

On Oct. 3, 1996, local authorities issued an arrest warrant for Van Wisse after he was charged with murder. Police believe he left the Austin-area when he learned he was being investigated as a murder suspect. In March 1997, Van Wisse was also charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and a federal warrant was issued. He has been wanted by the FBI ever since. Authorities believed he may have lived in South America or Mexico.

Since 1950, the FBI says 511 fugitives have been on the Top 10 list and 479 of those people have been captured. Once someone is added to the Top 10 list, the probability of them being captured is 94 percent.

Laurie Stout's family on Jan. 27, 2017 along with Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore (left). (KXAN Photo/Leslie Rangel)

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