WAUSAU COLD CASE SUCCESS!

In April of 2014 I attended the WAHI Conference.  Prior to registering I reviewed the brochure and noticed the offer of assistance from the Cold Case Review team.  Myself and a paralegal worked together to put together a powerpoint presentation on a case that we were struggling with,  involving the suspected homicide of 22 year old Stephanie Ann Low.  Stephanie Low had been missing from her apartment since 10.10.2010 and as the investigation progressed, it became more and more obvious that Stephanie had likely been murdered.  We were unable to locate her body but had at least three  witnesses whom the suspect had admitted killing Stephanie to, one of the witnesses had admitted to helping bury her body; however our prosecutor was hesitant to charge the case without more definitive evidence. 

 

I presented the case to your team during the conference in April.  I received several helpful suggestions, the most helpful of which included contact information for Tad Dibiase, a bodiless homicide “expert” who had prosecuted numerous bodiless homicides and was in the process of writing a book on the topic. 

 

After the presentation I immediately contacted Dibiase, who offered to review the case free of charge.  Just a couple of days later Dibiase responded and provided valuable feedback about how to prove that our victim was deceased and assured us that he felt we had a strong case even without the victim’s body.   This gave us great confidence and we presented the case to our local prosecutor a month later.   Ultimately our prosecutor was still not comfortable charging out the suspect without reviewing the entire case page by page, which he estimated could take several months if not longer.

 

A short time later, with our prosecutor’s blessing,  we presented the case to the State Attorney General’s Office.  They agreed to prosecute the case and we began working towards charging out the suspect, Kristopher Torgerson.  Now knowing that the case would be charged and being able to release the names of our witnesses without fear of retribution by the suspect, myself and Lt Kolb went to interview the suspect who was serving time on an unrelated matter in Boscobel.  We confronted the suspect in September of 2014,.  Much to our surprise, he agreed to show us where he had buried Low’s body.  Stephanie Ann Low’s remains were recovered from the Chequamegon National Forest in Wabeno WI on 9/19/2014.

 

Kristopher Torgerson was charged with her homicide, as well as attempted armed robbery and hiding a corpse and awaits trial.  Presenting this case to the Cold Case Review team provided us with otherwise unknown valuable resources that gave us the confidence to move this case forward.  I strongly encourage any agency with a cold case to confer with the review team, the experience and expertise they provided us helped close out a cold case homicide. 

 

Detective Jennifer Holz

Wausau Police Department


Cold Case Cards

The Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators has created a cold case playing card deck in partnership with:

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, 
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections, 
The Badger State Sheriffs Association, 
The Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, 
The Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, 
and law enforcement agencies statewide. These cards highlight 52 violent unsolved homicide, missing person, and unidentified remain cases that occurred throughout Wisconsin. If you have information about any case in this deck, please call the number at the bottom of the card on which the case appears. If you have information about a case that does not appear on this deck, please call the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction or the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation at 608-266-1671.

This project was supported by grant funds awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, through the United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Grant #2010-DN-BX-K010.

About The Deck

This deck profiles 52 unsolved homicides and missing persons. There are hundreds of other cases that are not profiled here. You might know something about these cases or you might have some information on cases not in this deck. You might think the information you have is not important or would not be helpful to the investigation. However, that information might just be the missing link for which the family members have been waiting years that can solve their loved one’s case and bring closure to their family. The victims depicted in this deck are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, or child. If you have information about any case in this deck, please call the number at the bottom of the card on which the case appears. If you have information about a case that does not appear on this deck, please call the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction or the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation at 608-266-1671.


Columbia County Cold Case Success!

Curtis Forbes sat without a visible reaction as his fate was read aloud Monday in the murder of Marilyn McIntyre.

As Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Alan White said "guilty," a loud gasp of surprise and elation rippled through McIntyre's supporters, while heads were lowered and mouths covered in dismay on the part of Forbes' supporters.

The conviction for first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison for Forbes, 53, of Randolph, who was a friend of the McIntyres.

The verdict ended the seven-day trial in the death of the Columbus teenager on March 11, 1980. The case attracted media coverage from across the state and from the CBS television show "48 Hours," which might air a story on the case.

After a request for a presentence investigation by defense attorneys, White said a sentencing hearing will take place after 60 days.

The jury deliberated only 2 1/2 hours, a much shorter time than it took for prosecutors and defense attorneys to make their closing statements earlier Monday.

Authorities said McIntyre was killed during the early morning hours of March 11, 1980, at her apartment in Columbus as her husband, Lane McIntyre, was at work.

An autopsy report said she was bludgeoned, strangled and stabbed in the apartment while her 3-month-old son, Christopher, lay quietly and unhurt in his crib. Christopher was in the courtroom Monday as the verdict was read. He attended court proceedings every day, along with his father, Lane, and aunt Carolyn Rahn, Marilyn's twin sister.After White polled the jury of nine women and three men - sequestered since Nov. 8 and taken from Jefferson County - to confirm the unanimous verdict, he revoked Forbes' $450,000 cash bail.

Forbes lived in the Randolph area for the last 30 years, most recently working at a trucking business run by his wife, Debra, who was his girlfriend at the time of the murder.

Investigation into the case intensified in 2008 with the exhumation of McIntyre's body; Forbes was arrested in March 2009 by Columbia County Sheriff's Office detectives after prosecutors said DNA evidence connected him to McIntyre's death; White later ruled that the DNA evidence could not be used in the jury trial.

Closing statementsThe defense rested its case Monday morning without Forbes taking the stand. Jurors began deliberation at about 3 p.m. Monday, following about five hours of closing arguments by prosecution and defense.

Forbes was found guilty without any forensic evidence, such as DNA evidence, hairs or fingerprints, linking him at the scene. The prosecutor in the case, Assistant Attorney General David Wambach, painted a picture of Forbes' actions and statements in 1980 and over the 30 years since McIntyre's murder to convince the jury of Forbes' guilt.

During closing arguments for the prosecution, Assistant Attorney General David Wambach described Forbes as a man "on the prowl" on March 10, 1980, seeking sex after being cut off by his girlfriend at the time.

"He's decided to go out on the prowl to try and find something to replace what he's no longer getting," Wambach told the jurors.

After two strikes - a married friend, Rhonda Seidlinger, at a bar, and the sister of a friend, Lori Dilley - he tried one last time with Marilyn McIntyre.

"Curtis Forbes came to the McIntyre residence like a thief in the night, and when he left, he had stolen something from that home, something so precious, something irreplaceable; he stole the life right out of Marilyn McIntyre," Wambach told the jurors.

Forbes told three people on three separate occasions, that he "got away with murder," according to Wambach.

Wambach urged the jurors to look at Forbes' actions, rather than his words.

"Actions speak louder than words," Wambach said. "(Forbes') actions say, ‘I am guilty of murdering Marilyn McIntyre.'"

Forbes took off for Florida after the murder and sent letters to family and friends in which he describes himself as "scared and confused."

But those letters showed more of a man who was calculating and cunning rather than someone who was "scared and confused," Wambach told the jury.

A key piece of evidence, Wambach said, is the blood on the shirt Forbes wore on March 11, 1980, and witnessed by his then-girlfriend, Debra Attleson, now Debra Forbes.

"She saw blood there," Wambach said, "and it's Marilyn McIntyre's blood."

Debra Forbes told friends in 1980 about the blood on the shirt; in a recorded phone call from the jail two days after Curtis Forbes' arrest on March 24, 2009, she asked him to explain about the "bloody shirt."

Forbes did not deny there was blood on his shirt, but told her he would "explain all that" to her later, Wambach said to the jury.

Defense attorney David Geier argued that because there was no physical evidence linking Forbes to the scene of the murder, it implied that Marilyn's husband, Lane McIntyre, should be the murder suspect.

"A reasonable hypothesis is that somebody else killed Marilyn McIntyre," Geier said to the jury.

Using photos taken in 1980, Geier meticulously explored the McIntyre's apartment for the jurors, pointing out Marilyn's cleanliness and the fact that little was out of place inside the small apartment.

Marilyn was murdered well before the prosecution's proposed time of 3:15 a.m. March 11, 1980.

"Crime scene photos tell you about this murder," Geier said. "What it tells you is that (the murder) should have occurred well before 3:15 in that house."

Jurors refused requests to speak about the case Monday as they left the courtroom.