Man bound over for trial in 1986 Green Bay murder

Lou Archie Griffin
Lou Archie Griffin(Brown County Jail)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 11:38 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man has been bound over for trial on charges related to a 1986 murder in Green Bay.

Lou Griffin, 65, appeared before a Brown County judge Wednesday for a preliminary hearing. The judge ruled there is enough evidence for the case to move forward to trial.

Griffin is charged with 1st Degree Intentional Homicide for the murder of Lisa Holstead.

At the hearing, a Green Bay Police detective who took over the case testified. Det. David Graf stated that investigators took beer cans from a dumpster outside Griffin’s apartment in Racine County and used it to obtain his DNA. They also found a cigarette butt that Griffin was seen tossing away, according to Graf’s testimony.

The defense asked the judge to dismiss the case, claiming there was no evidence to show Griffin murdered Holstead. They claim Griffin had sex with Lisa Holstead, but someone else killed her.

The prosecution stated there are reasonable inferences that the person who sexually assaulted Lisa Holstead also killed her.

The judge sided with the prosecution and agreed there was probable cause to bind Griffin over for trial.

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8. That’s when a defendant enters a plea to the charges against him or her.

Action 2 News’ Sarah Thomsen has been investigating the arrest of Lou Griffin and the technology and science used to tie him to the murder. Those reports air Wednesday on Action 2 News.

Action 2 News first reported the break in this cold case in November.

In August of 10986, Lisa Holstead was 22-years-old when she was found dead in a marshy section of the Ken Euers Nature Area.

In November, police announced the arrest of Lou A. Griffin for Lisa’s murder.

Det. Graf said police weren’t finding a match in law enforcement DNA databases throughout the United States. About two years ago, he reached out to a company that does DNA tests for forensic genetic genealogy, which could tell them not only more about their suspect (“such as his hair color,” Graf said) but also the killer’s possible relatives. The tests are similar to the ones families take to track their heritage, and would give police a different pool of DNA to compare the evidence.

Police sent the suspect’s DNA to a lab for analysis, and came back with a lot of information about the man’s heritage, which sent him on a new path to finding the suspect.

“We were able to identify some relatives - not real close relatives, but close enough that... it’s a lot of work doing the background and basically do a family tree in reverse,” said Det. Graf.

Using that information, police found groups of people through databases and websites who might be relatives. They found a group of people who live in other states, which eventually led them to relatives in Wisconsin, and ultimately to a family member who lived in Green Bay in 1986.

“I can tell you there’s probably like 10-15 trees that we started that we were able to identify as potential relatives. In this case, we were able to find a group of people that lived in Wisconsin and doing more research on them, we came up with Mr. Griffin,” said Detective Graf. “What brought our attention to Mr. Griffin was his past history, he had just gotten out of prison for sexual assault and moved up to Green Bay about a month before.”

Police add they haven’t found any connection between Holstead and Griffin. Witnesses saw Lisa Holstead get out of her boyfriend’s car in the area of Mason and Taylor streets at about 2:30 a.m. on August 12, 1986. Police now know Griffin lived a few miles from there.

“Forensic genetic genealogy is very complicated -- it’s something I don’t understand very well -- but Det. Graf here was able to use that to put this case together. And then with some fantastic police work from our associates, with the Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and the Racine County Sheriff’s Department Metro Drug Unit, they were able to ultimately solve this case, arrest the individual, Lou Archie Griffin, and he’s being held here in Brown County,” said Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith.

Graf said Griffin was cooperative. He voluntarily went to the sheriff’s office and talked with investigators for a few hours. Prosecutors say Griffin eventually told police he might have had sex with Holstead but denied killing her. He remembered he was high on cocaine and drinking alcohol that night.

Graf said after Griffin’s arrest, he has received another DNA sample, which he sent in for testing to verify police have the right man.

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