Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Capital City Murders

Chilling Discoveries

Old Sauk Pass Road where Debra Bennett's body was found (David Lohr)
Old Sauk Pass Road where Debra
Bennett's body was found
(David Lohr)

As the years went by most people forgot about Christine Rothschilds murder, and those few who hadnt simply chalked it up as an anomaly a freak incident unlikely to occur again. And so it would be until July 21, 1976 when the charred and decomposed remains of 20-year-old Debra Bennett were discovered by land assessors in a gully along Old Sauk Pass Road, approximately 14 miles from Madison in Western Dane County.

An autopsy, conducted by Dr. Billy Bauman, revealed that Debra had been dead for at least 10 days, but the exact cause of death was unknown. A fractured collarbone and dental records had enabled her identification. Soon after her discovery, investigators learned from friends that she had recently been evicted from her apartment and had been staying in a room at the Cardinal Hotel in downtown Madison. A native of Ridgeway in Iowa County, Debra had only lived in the area a short time. Investigators had no suspects and very little evidence to go on. In a mysterious twist, three weeks after her body was found, the key to her room was mailed to the hotel. There was no note, return address, or any identifying marks. Investigators have yet to release the postmark information or the results of the examination they conducted for latent prints. As with Christine Rothschilds murder, the case was eventually filed away in a folder pending future leads.

Two years would pass until another brutal discovery rocked the area. It was once again a summer day on which another young woman was found in a shallow grave along Woodland Road in Waunakee, just 14 miles from the city of Madison. The victim had been dead for at least three days and had apparently died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head. It took investigators nearly two days to identify the body as that of 18-year-old Julie Ann Hall. According to Halls friends, just weeks earlier on May 1, 1978, Julie had secured a job as a library assistant on the university campus. She was last seen on a Friday night when she went out to a local pub, Main King Tap, a short distance from Madisons Capital Square. Again, there were no suspects and no evidence pointing towards the killer.

Julie Ann Hall and Woodland Road where Julie Ann Hall's body was found (David Lohr)
Julie Ann Hall and Woodland Road where Julie
Ann Hall's body was found
(David Lohr)
Julie Ann Hall and Woodland Road where Julie Ann Hall's body was found (David Lohr)
Julie Ann Hall and Woodland Road where Julie
Ann Hall's body was found
(David Lohr)

On March 27, 1979, 20-year-old Julie Speerschneider mysteriously vanished. According to witnesses, she had spent most of the evening at the 602 Club, a bar at 602 University Avenue, when she decided to hitchhike to a friends house. Shortly after her disappearance, a man told police that he had picked up Julie, who he had recognized from media reports, along with a male companion and dropped them off at the corner of Johnson and Brearly. The witness gave a description of the man to investigators, but they were unable to identify him. Julie had many friends and at the time of her disappearance worked at the Red Caboose Day Care Center, where coworkers described her as a reliable and friendly employee. Friends and relatives offered a reward for information and at one point consulted a psychic in hopes of locating her.

Julie Speerschneider (insert), victim and the corner of Johnson and Brearly where she disappeared
Julie Speerschneider (insert), victim
and the corner of Johnson and
Brearly where she disappeared

 

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