MILWAUKEE — Stephanie Marie Casberg was born on July 11, 1951, to Charles and Janice Casberg in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In 1957, the Casberg family moved to Wisconsin, where Casberg graduated from Milwaukee’s Riverside High School in June 1969. While in high school, she was a member of the A Capella Singers and the Madrigal Choir. She resided with her parents and brothers in an East Side duplex in Milwaukee.
Casberg was a beautiful girl with long red hair and freckles. She was popular, well-liked, happy, playful, and outgoing. She loved attending dances and lived for fun and excitement.
The teenager held a waitress job at Marc’s Big Boy Restaurant, now a shopping center, on Van Buren Street in Milwaukee. On Sunday, July 6, 1969, a witness saw Casberg getting into a yellow convertible on her way to work. It was her last day before a one-week vacation.
On Wednesday, July 9, 1969, an 8-year-old boy fishing with his father and brother near a closed and condemned bridge on the Root River discovered something wrapped in a Milwaukee newspaper dated June 24, 1969.
It was Casberg’s right leg.
The boy’s father called the Racine County Sheriff’s Office. A subsequent search of the area resulted in finding Casberg’s arms, head, and right leg.
Searchers also found Casberg’s purse; it contained cards, earrings, and pictures. A small, ripped photograph of the teenage girl was found on a street in Franklin, WI.
According to an early report dated July 23, 1969, the police also found bones from a leg and the abdomen discarded in a cardboard box not far from the Root River location where they located the other parts.
Pathologist Dr. Myron Schuster said Casberg had been dead “a day or two,” and the limbs had been “cut cleanly from the body with a sharp instrument.” There were no bruises or broken bones.
Then-Racine County Sheriff Joseph Blessinger stated the dismemberment looked like “a butcher had done it” and called it “the most gruesome thing I’ve ever seen in my 30 years” in office.
The area where searchers found the first set of body parts was isolated and hard to get to, but not heavily wooded. Sheriff Blessinger said whoever killed Casberg was familiar with the area.
It is unclear how and where Casberg was killed.
Stephanie’s father, Charles Casberg, heard in a radio broadcast that remains had been found and notified the authorities. He positively identified the remains as his daughter. For whatever reason, Charles Casberg never reported his daughter missing when she failed to return home from work on July 6.
The final days of Casberg’s life are shrouded in mystery; investigators have no idea of her last moments.
Detectives questioned several people, including Casberg’s friends and family members. They initially arrested an 18-year-old man at a bus stop after receiving an anonymous tip. However, they released him after extensive questioning.
On Tuesday, July 15, 1969, 34-year-old Grant Hughes committed suicide near Root River.
His body was found in Hughes’ car parked in bushes of a dirt road. The vehicle had a hose running from the exhaust pipe and through a window to the passenger side. The engine was still running. Authorities initially thought Hughes might have killed Stephanie, but they found no connection between Hughes’ suicide and the murder of Casberg.
A 21-year-old coworker of Casberg’s told the police that a man attacked her about a month before Casberg disappeared.
The Daily Tribune reported, “the young woman was walking home from work around 12:30 a.m. when the man grabbed her from behind and held a sharp object to her neck. She screamed and shoved him. He struck her in the stomach with his fist, knocking her down, then warned her to stop resisting ‘or I’ll cut your head off.'”
A few days later, police arrested a 17-year-old Milwaukee restaurant worker connected with a series of assaults near the Clark Building in downtown Milwaukee. It is unclear if this is the same person who assaulted Casberg’s coworker.
Two victims positively identified the boy – a 17-year-old Waukesha County girl (some early reports say she was 18) and a 35-year-old Milwaukee woman. The teenager said the boy beat and molested her on February 26, 1969. He also stabbed her in the head with a screwdriver during the attack.
The teenage boy raped the older woman in her car’s front seat in the Clark Building’s parking lot on July 23. She suffered knife wounds on her right shoulder during the assault.
While investigators called the youth a “good suspect” in the Casberg murder, they never charged him for the crime.
There were several murders of young women in Wisconsin in the ’60s and ’70s but as far as I can tell, detectives were unable to connect to the Casberg murder.
A few years ago, retired Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) lieutenant Steve Spingola began investigating Casberg’s murder. According to Spingola, there was never a serious suspect, and evidence in the case is limited. “Fingerprint technology, DNA, it’s been check, and there’s’ been no links to the forensic sciences to this day,” he said in 2019.
WDJT Milwaukee reported that “Stephanie Casberg’s murder case is the oldest cold case in an MPD database that has dozens, possibly hundreds of them.”
Casberg’s parents, Charles and Janice Casberg, passed away in 1987 and 2011, respectively.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
My biggest concern with this case is the fact that no one reported Stephanie missing! We’re talking about a reliable kid, so when she did not come home on Sunday, July 6, 1969, why didn’t the Casbergs notify the police? She wasn’t found until days later, so what the hell?
The pathologist said Stephanie had been dead “a day or two.” So this means that she was likely killed Monday or Tuesday. Where was she from the time she was last seen until she was murdered?
A witness saw Stephanie getting into a yellow convertible. Did Stephanie know the driver, or did he or she offer her a ride?
Personally, I think she knew her killer, so maybe it was a rejected admirer or a pissed off ex-boyfriend. I say this because of the torn-up photograph of Stephanie found on a street in Franksville.
Whoever dismembered the body was a professional, so did Stephanie know anyone with connections to a doctor or butcher?
Interestingly, I could not find the cause of death. Police were initially tight-lipped about the murder, but even in a 2019 article, no cause of death is mentioned. The torso was never found, so maybe she had been shot or stabbed in the torso.
“Arrest Youth Called ‘Good Suspect’ in Casberg Case.” Kenosha News. August 5, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed December 11, 2020).
“Authorities Refuse to Talk About Clues in Girl’s Slaying.” Capital Times. July 11, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed January 2, 2020).
“Girl’s Severed Body Found Along River.” Marshfield News-Herald. July 10, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed January 1, 2020).
“Man, 20, Sought in Casberg Murder Case.” Daily Tribune (Wisconsin Rapids). July 30, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed January 2, 2020).
“Man Kills Self Near Site Where Body Discovered.” La Crosse Tribune. July 16, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed January 2, 2020).
“More Portions of Girl’s Body Found in Box.” La Cross Tribune. July 23, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed December 11, 2020).
Schuman, David. “Gruesome Cold Case Murder of Milwaukee Teen Stephanie Casberg Remains Unsolved 50 Years Later.” April 12, 2019. https://www.cbs58.com/news/gruesome-cold-case-murder-of-milwaukee-teen-stephanie-casberg-remains-unsolved-50-years-later (accessed December 11, 2020).
“Slain Girl’s Final Days Are Mystery.” Stevens Point Journal. July 11, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed January 2, 2020).
“Youth Held For Assault in Milwaukee.” Green Bay Press-Gazette. August 6, 1969. https://www.newspapers.com (accessed January 2, 2020).