Capital City Murders
In April 1980, Julie Speerschneider was still missing when the body of 24-year-old Susan LeMahieu was found lying in the weeds near the Madison Arboretum. A 1974 graduate of Madisons East High School, Susan was mildly retarded and physically handicapped. While she had been reported missing on Dec. 15, police did not initially suspect foul play and had considered the possibility that she had run off or was wandering around confused as a result of her disabilities. An autopsy determined that she had died as a result of multiple stab wounds to the chest.
One year after the discovery of Susan LeMahieu, on April 1981 Charles Byrd, 16, was hiking along the Yahara River when he came across the skeletal remains of Julie Speerschneider. Because of the decomposed state in which she was found, investigators were unable to determine an exact cause of death. Three months later in July 1981, the body of 17-year-old Shirley Stewart was found in a wooded area north of Madison. The youngest of all the victims, she had been missing since January 2, 1980, after leaving her job at the Dean Clinic. Shirleys body was very decomposed and Deputy Coroner Donald Scullion was unable to establish the exact cause of death
It was nearly a year before another young woman was mysteriously killed in the Madison area. On July 2, 1982, 19-year-old Donna Mraz was stabbed repeatedly behind Camp Randall Stadium. Mraz was on her way home from State Street, where she earned tuition money as a waitress. The killer left behind her money, paycheck, and keys, and there was no indication of sexual assault. Lt. Gary Moore of UW Police told WICS TV, She never regained consciousness. For all intents and purposes, the young lady was dead when she hit the ground." With no witnesses or motive, investigators were again stumped.
The final murder in this series took place on Nov. 17, 1984. Deer hunters in the town of Buena Vista found the body of a partially clad young woman in a wooded area southeast of Highway 54. The body was eventually identified as that of 20-year-old Janet M. Raasch, a University of Wisconsin student. A business major in her third year at UW, Raasch had worked at the DeBot Center on campus. Friends had reported her missing on Oct. 15, but she was last seen on Oct. 11, 1984, when a friend dropped her off on Highway 54 in the town of Buena Vista, about two miles west of where her body was found. Decomposition made it difficult to determine the exact cause of death and the coroner was unable to pinpoint the time of death, saying she could have died a week to 10 days before her body was found.