Griffin sentenced after DNA solves 1986 cold case death of Lisa Holstead

Investigators found Lou Griffin through genetic genealogy
Detectives had a key piece of evidence but it took years for technology to catch up
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 12:55 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 6:08 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man has been sentenced in the 1986 killing of a woman in Green Bay. The case was once considered the longest-unsolved murder in Green Bay.

Lou Griffin was sentenced Monday to ten years in prison for the death of Lisa Holstead.

Back in January, Griffin pleaded “no contest” to a charge of Homicide by Reckless Conduct. The court found him guilty.

Griffin was originally charged with 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, a higher class of felony than the reckless conduct charge.

In August of 1986, Lisa Holstead was 22 years old when she was found dead in a marshy section of the Ken Euers Nature Area. Holstead had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

In 2020, police announced the arrest of Lou A. Griffin for Holstead’s killing. Investigators found Griffin through genetic genealogy.

When confronted by investigators, police 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.

Detective David Graf from the Green Bay Police Department, says evidence collected from decades ago can be re-tested with newer technology.

“Especially over the course of the years, the technology has gotten better and better in terms of being able to use smaller amounts of DNA. It does have an effect on being able to locate a potential suspect,” said Detective Graf.

In this case, genetic genealogy tracked from DNA found at the scene brought investigators to Griffin leading to his arrest three years ago.

DNA collection has come a long way since the 1980′s and has been a helpful tool in closing several cases. At-home DNA testing kits have also helped police with gathering information.

“The biggest thing is, the more people in there, you can match, so you might be able to find somebody whose a second cousin or third cousin who you may not know is out there or not,” said Detective Graf.