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Convicted sex offender, 65, is arrested for 34-year-old cold case murder of a Wisconsin mother

Lou Archie Griffin, 65, of Racine, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on October 29 for the murder of a young Wisconsin mother in 1983

Nearly three-and-a-half decades after a 22-year-old mother was found strangled to death in a Wisconsin swap, the man police say is responsible for the carrying out the killing is now in custody following a DNA breakthrough.

The arrest of 65-year-old Lou Archie Griffin, of Racine, was announced by investigators on Thursday. He was detained at home and charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

Police say Griffin murdered Lisa Holstead back in August 1986. The young mother was found strangled to death with a piece of her own clothing in a marshy area of Green Bay near the Ken Euers Nature Park. She had also been sexually assaulted.

Holstead’s murder, Green Bay’s oldest cold case, puzzled investigators for nearly 35 years but a breakthrough was found in September thanks to forensic genetic genealogy, police said Monday.

‘Solving a case like this is not just once in a lifetime for detectives,’ Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith said. ‘This is once in a generation for a whole squad room of detectives.’

Police say Griffin murdered Lisa Holstead back in August 1986. The young mother was found strangled to death with a piece of her own clothing in a marshy area of Green Bay near the Ken Euers Nature Park. She had also been sexually assaulted

Lisa Holstead shown in a family handout with her son, Jeremy

Police say Griffin murdered Lisa Holstead back in August 1986. The young mother was found strangled to death with a piece of her own clothing

He lifeless body was found in a marshy area of Green Bay near the Ken Euers Nature Park. She had also been sexually assaulted

He lifeless body was found in a marshy area of Green Bay near the Ken Euers Nature Park. She had also been sexually assaulted

‘Solving a case like this is not just once in a lifetime for detectives,’ Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith Monday. ‘This is once in a generation for a whole squad room of detectives'

‘Solving a case like this is not just once in a lifetime for detectives,’ Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith Monday. ‘This is once in a generation for a whole squad room of detectives’

During a Monday press conference, detective David Graf said that Griffin had no connection to Holstead but investigators were able to identify him as the suspect by doing a ‘reverse family tree’ with DNA evidence recovered from the scene. 

Also known as reverse genealogy, the process involves researching a family tree from the past to the present to find a suspect’s relatives, before narrowing down that list to the suspect.

Law enforcement agencies across the country started using forensic genealogy technology to solve cold cases after it was used identify the Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, two years ago.

Green Bay investigators sent a DNA sample from Holstead’s body to a testing company in 2018 and used that sample to create a profile of Holstead’s killer.

A newspaper clipping from the 1986 is seen above , profiling Holstead's murder

A newspaper clipping from the 1986 is seen above , profiling Holstead’s murder

‘It came up with more genetic info than just what a crime lab could come up with. Then using that, we’re able to identify the person’s hair, where they’re from, and using some of the common websites we identified some relatives,’ Graf said.

Through the familial search, using characteristics from the suspect’s profile, and after discovering that Griffin had lived in Green Bay within a few miles of where Holstead was killed at the time of her death, police say they narrowed the search down to him.

According to a criminal complaint, investigators retrieved Griffin’s DNA from beer cans and a cigarette after trailing him in Racine on September 15 and the sample returned a match to the suspect.

Griffin has a history of violence against women, including strangulation, according to police. 

He moved to Green Bay only a month prior to Holstead’s death after he was released on parole for second-degree child sexual assault. 

Police said they believe Griffin sexually assaulted and then killed Holstead.  

Griffin initially denied knowing Holstead at first, police said, but when confronted with the DNA evidence he allegedly acknowledged that he must have slept with her but denied murdering her.

He told investigators he was high on cocaine and drank alcohol on the night of her death. He said he went to a bar, stopped at McDonald’s and drove home, using a route near Holstead’s last known location.

‘It’s a good day that we believe we’ve solved a homicide,’ Police Chief Andrew Smith said. ‘But it’s also a sad day. Lisa Holstead lost her life. Her child lost his mother.’

Detective David Graf said on Monday that Griffin (shown above in custodt) had no connection to Holstead but investigators were able to identify him as suspect by doing a ‘reverse family tree’ using DNA evidence obtained from the scene of the murder.

Detective David Graf said on Monday that Griffin (shown above in custodt) had no connection to Holstead but investigators were able to identify him as suspect by doing a ‘reverse family tree’ using DNA evidence obtained from the scene of the murder.

Lisa Holstead’s son, Jeremy, was only five-years-old when his mother was murdered. He’d been staying with family on the night of August 12, 1986 (pictured together in the above image)

Jeremy says since police told him of Griffin’s arrest, he has been going through a rollercoaster of emotions

Lisa Holstead’s son, Jeremy (right), was only five-years-old when his mother was murdered. He’d been staying with family on the night of August 12, 1986 (pictured together left). Jeremy says since police told him of Griffin’s arrest, he has been going through a rollercoaster of emotions

Holstead was found dead by construction workers on August 12, 1986 in a swampy marsh near Peat's Lake and Duck Creek (picture: Investigators search the scene of Holstead's death)

Holstead was found dead by construction workers on August 12, 1986 in a swampy marsh near Peat’s Lake and Duck Creek (picture: Investigators search the scene of Holstead’s death)

Holstead was found dead by construction workers on August 12, 1986 in a swampy marsh near Peat’s Lake and Duck Creek.

The workers described to police they had spotted what appeared to be a hand sticking up out of the water. When they pulled their truck over to investigate further, they discovered a woman’s body, laying half-naked by the water’s edge.

Holstead had been reported missing just hours earlier. She was last seen alive by her boyfriend, John Sot, who said they had been driving home from a family gathering when they had an argument and she opened the door of vehicle and ran away.

The couple lived together, and her boyfriend told investigators she never made it home that night.

Detective David Graf (above), speaking during a Monday press conference said they identified Griffin through reverse genealogy process involves researching a family tree from the past to the present to find a suspect's relatives

Detective David Graf (above), speaking during a Monday press conference said they identified Griffin through reverse genealogy process involves researching a family tree from the past to the present to find a suspect’s relatives

Lisa Holstead’s son, Jeremy, was only five-years-old when his mother was murdered. He’d been staying with family on the night of August 12, 1986.

Speaking to NBC 26, he revealed what Griffin’s arrest means to his family, after a lifetime of unanswered questions.

‘I just want closure. It’s the same thing the whole family wants for the last 34 years. I just wish my grandma was alive to be able to see this,’ Jeremy said.

Holstead’s mother passed away a few years ago, having never learned what happened to her daughter.

Jeremy says since police told him of Griffin’s arrest, he has been going through a rollercoaster of emotions.

‘Sometimes I’m happy sometimes you get a little more sad. I don’t really know how to explain it,’ he told the network. ‘You don’t want to get your hopes up way too high and have them come crashing down but I mean, I feel pretty good overall about it.’

Griffin was charged on October 29 with one count of first-degree intentional homicide. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He made his first appearance in court later that afternoon in Brown County Criminal Intake, where his bond was set at $1 million.

Griffin’s next court hearing is scheduled for December 10. 


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