Brown County cold case from 1986 ends Friday with a no contest plea by Racine man linked to case by DNA test

GREEN BAY - Brown County's longest open homicide case ended Friday with a judge finding a Racine truck driver guilty in the 1986 killing of Lisa Holstead, 22.

Lou A. Griffin, 67, was found guilty Friday morning by Brown County Circuit Judge Timothy Hinkfuss after Griffin entered a plea of no contest to a reduced charge of homicide by reckless conduct, a class C felony. He had been charged with more serious crimes: first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Griffin's plea cancels a trial that was scheduled to start on Monday.

RELATED:Forensic genealogy led to Racine man's arrest in 1986 homicide of Lisa Holstead of Green Bay

Holstead's killing had been the oldest unsolved homicide case in Brown County. Her body was found near what is now the Ken Euers Nature Area in northwestern Green Bay. She had been found strangled in August 1986 after leaving her boyfriend's car after an argument; she had decided to leave the car and walk to his west-side apartment.

Police said they had had suspected her boyfriend. But he consistently denied involvement in the killing, and there was no evidence showing that he caused Holstead's death.

Lisa Holstead of Green Bay disappeared in August 1986; her body was found in a northwest side marsh.
Lisa Holstead of Green Bay disappeared in August 1986; her body was found in a northwest side marsh.

Green Bay police said Detective David Graf had learned about advances in DNA analysis. In 2020, he resubmitted a piece of evidence found in the marsh to a crime lab that was able to provide information narrowed down to the DNA of the killer's family members. He said the investigative technique was like "doing a family tree in reverse."

Police connected Griffin to the killing using DNA he left on a cigarette butt and a beer can. Griffin, who had served time in the Green Bay Correctional Institution for violence against a woman and had moved to Green Bay about a month before Holstead was slain, later admitted having had sex with Holstead, but denied knowledge of her killing.

Griffin is scheduled to be sentenced by Hinkfuss at 8:30 a.m. March 27.

Email Doug Schneider at, call him at (920) 265-2070 and follow him on Twitter at @PGDougSchneider

This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Brown County's oldest unsolved homicide ends with plea by Racine man