A Texas man charged with sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman and strangling her to death with a wire in 1983 has been named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Robert Francis Van Wisse was a 19-year-old student at the University of Texas at Austin at the time of the murder. Van Wisse is now 51 years old and has been on the run for more than two decades. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his capture.
The victim, who was married with a one-year-old daughter, worked as a janitor at the college. Her body was found at 8:27 A.M. on September 20, 1983, in the men’s restroom of an office building. Authorities say that Van Wisse was in the building late the night before registering for a course.
Investigators determined that Van Wisse was the last person seen in the building before the murder, but he was ruled out as a suspect at the time due to the fact that DNA technology was not as advanced as it is today.
“No matter how much time has passed,” said Special Agent Justin Noble, a member of the FBI’s Central Texas Violent Crimes Task Force in Austin who is investigating the case, “it’s important that we finally get justice for the victim and her family.”
In the early 1990s, an Austin Police Department detective submitted the crime-scene evidence for new DNA tests. In 1996, Texas charged him with capital murder, and the following year he was charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Van Wisse is five-foot-six, weighs 180 pounds, and has brown hair. Noble noted that he is well-educated, speaks English and Spanish, and has a family who owns multiple properties in Mexico and in Guatemala. At a press conference, authorities said they plan a social-media campaign targeted to specific locations in the U.S. and abroad. Anyone with information on Van Wisse is asked to call their local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They can also call the FBI tip line at 1 (800) 225-5324.
Main photo: Robert Francis Van Wisse [FBI/YouTube (screenshot)]