SPECIAL REPORT: Unsolved - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports



More than a dozen homicides are still unsolved in central Wisconsin, dating back to the 1940's. In Portage County, only one case remains.

It's been more than three decades since Janet Raasch was found murdered in the woods in Portage County, but neither investigators nor her family have ever given up hope that one day her killer will be found.

It was November 1984 that hunters came across Janet's body in a wooded area near Plover. Former Portage County Detective Peter Thrun was just minutes away.

“The hunters took me to where the body was located,” said Thrun. “It's something you never forget about of course."

Janet was a third year business student at UWSP, a Merrill native, and the youngest of three girls in the family. That day in 1984 has also stuck with Janet's older sister Nancy Raasch.

“I remember getting the phone call, my father and I got back from hunting, opening day,” said Nancy. “It was the sheriff's department, told us they found Janet's body.”

Janet had been missing for just about a month when her body was found. She was last seen alive after being dropped off at an intersection near Plover, her body found about two miles away.

“She was scheduled to come home, probably to meet some friends from her hometown, and never arrived,” said Nancy. “You'd just kind of hoped she'd show up on your doorstep some point of time.”

An autopsy for Janet came back inconclusive, but police decided she was strangled and sexually assaulted.

“First of all, we didn't have DNA evidence which would have been incredible to have at that point,” said Thrun.

Technology and forensics advanced significantly throughout the years, and in 2002, Janet's body was exhumed from her grave, with detectives hoping they could use any DNA evidence to crack the case.

“Well, it was hopeful,” said Nancy. “They had reasons that they wanted to do it, so we had to. The science and DNA testing had come a long way at that point in time.”

The evidence didn't solve the case, and for 32 years leads have continually come up empty. Technology can't make up for one thing.

“Just the time, time is always the biggest factor,” said Jason Miedl, the current Portage County detective on the Janet Raasch case.

Thrun retired from the sheriff's department in 1999, but the detective has never forgotten Janet and still believes the murder will be solved.

“I carried Janet's license with me until I retired,” said Thrun. “There's always hope."

Throughout the past 32 years, the case has cycled through detective after detective before being handed to Miedl two years ago.

“Someone's always been assigned the case, someone's always read the case,” said Miedl. “It's the largest case file we have at the sheriff's office. It's there, you never forget about it.”

Just like the detectives haven't stopped searching, Nancy hasn't stopped being reminded of her younger sister. She said she sees her sister's vibrant personality in her 26-year-old daughter Brittany.

“Reminds me a lot of Janet,” said Nancy. “It's a reminder every day.”

While it's been 32 years, Nancy's sister said she hasn't given up hope that her sister's murder will get solved.

“It would just bring closure,” said Nancy. “You don't ever forget.”

Miedl said they continue to get tips on the case to thIs day.

“I believe I got a letter addressed to the sheriff's office a few months ago, it's just kind of sporadic, every so often,” said Miedl.

Detectives are also hoping the author of an anonymous letter sent to the department in 2013 comes forward, they believe that person could hold the missing clue to solving the case.

Janet isn't the only unsolved murder in central Wisconsin, more than a dozen remain.

Clark County:

-Stephanie Vandenberg was found floating face down naked in Sherwood lake in 1991.

-James Southworth was found dead with two bullet wounds to his back in 2001, he was hunting at the time and found a substantial distance from his deer stand.

Langlade County:

-Catherine Nameth- Stabbed to death several times in 2001, she had tried to radio for help before she died.

Marathon County:

-Joseph Kargol was found beaten to death outside of Mosinee near the Wisconsin River in 1973.

-Brian Jehn's remains were found in a wooded area south of Mosinee in 1988. He was beaten to death.

-Ken Juedes, a pharmacist in Medford was found dead in his home in 2006. He had two gunshots to his chest.

Oneida County:

-Lynn Burnett, 2000.

-Barbara Mendez, 1982.

-Marian Mettayer, 1971.

-Edna Mounta, 1962

-John Hosmer, Jr., 1957

-Unidentified female remains, 1947.

Taylor County:

-Richard Godersky was found dead on the side of STH 102 in 1984.

-Eugene Monte was found with a gunshot wound to his chest inside his vacation home in 1999.

-Terrence Boushon skeletal remains were found off of Whittelsey road in the Town of Chelsea in 2006, roughly a year after he was reported missing.

-Jean Viken's body was found in the Chequamegon National Forest in 2008 miles away from her van. She was shot to death.

Vilas County:

-George Jares was shot to death outside his restaurant in 1986.

-Susie Poupart was found dead in a Price County forest in 1990. 

-Luann Beckman was found strangled  on a trail in the woods in 2016.

Wood County:

-Eleanor Roberts was found stabbed and beaten in her home in 1984.

-Deidre Harm vanished after going out with friends in 2006, her body was found by hunters months later in a wooded area.

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