Laurie Depies Search


Police are searching in south-central Wisconsin for the remains of Laurie Depies in an effort to verify Larry DeWayne Hall’s confession that he abducted and killed the Appleton woman in 1992.

Town of Menasha Police Lt. Mike Krueger told Gannett Wisconsin Media that a team of plainclothes law enforcement authorities have spent three days digging for evidence of Depies — or other potential victims of Hall — at an undisclosed remote location. Authorities are using ground-penetrating radar and specially trained police dogs in the search.

“He told us there were four bodies in that location,” Krueger said last week, declining to specify where the site is or when it was searched. “We haven’t found what we’re looking for. We’re done for now but we’ll be going back again and doing more.”

Depies was 20 when she disappeared Aug. 19, 1992, from a town of Menasha parking lot where she had driven after working at the Fox River Mall. She never made it to her boyfriend’s apartment.

In mid-May, Gannett Wisconsin Media reported that Hall admitted buying a T-shirt from Depies at the Fox River Mall store where she worked and later following, abducting and killing her. Less than two weeks later, Hall told The Associated Press that he “picked up 39 women altogether between 1980 and 1994” and an undetermined number of them, including Depies, ended up dead.

Gossett said more specific and incriminating evidence is needed before charges could be filed.

“I’m not saying he did or didn’t do it,” he said. “If he did kill her and there’s a way to corroborate it, all is good. If we can’t (corroborate the confession), it makes me a little suspicious that it’s really the right person.”

Gossett, who was informed of Hall’s confession last fall, is hopeful that incriminating evidence will surface.

“Even without a body, he could be prosecuted,” Gossett said.

“But it really comes down to (the fact that) this guy has nothing to lose. He’s saying he did it — now give us the details.

“You don’t want to rack up (Hall’s) personal scorecard if (he) didn’t do it.”

Krueger thinks technology and science, especially DNA analysis, will be key to any cases advancing against Hall, a former bank janitor.

Authorities say Hall has been fastidious about not leaving behind any physical evidence or forensic residues, perhaps due to his fascination with True Detective and other crime magazines and to his familiarity with cleaning supplies and techniques.

“It’s kind of a needle in a haystack kind of thing,” Krueger said of the sizable search area that is concealed from view from any roadway or residence.

The police dogs picked up on the scent of human remains, a scent that can migrate over time. “We were explained to that when a body is buried, when it breaks down and decomposes, the gases will spread through the ground,” Krueger said.

Over the years, the gases or scents can make their way into root systems and into plants or trees.

“We could be a foot away (from a body) and never know it,” Krueger said.

Hall declined to provide specific information about the other three bodies he claims are at the same site.

“He gave us no names (other than Depies’),” Krueger said. “He just said four bodies and one is a boy.”

The boy, Krueger was told, died accidentally when Hall — who claimed he was driving and not paying attention — hit him and panicked, not knowing what to do.

“The boy died. Is that fantasy? I don’t know. He could have made that all up,” Krueger said.

Krueger, however, is undeterred, convinced that Hall is providing investigators with information to the best of his memory about disposing of Depies’ body after killing her — rather than falsely confessing and fabricating stories.

Hall is known to have traveled extensively as a Civil War re-enactor and an old car enthusiast. Authorities said he used only cash and often stayed in his van, leaving behind few clues as to his whereabouts.

He has been in custody since November 1994, when he was arrested in connection with the 1993 abduction of Roach, the Illinois girl whose body was found in an Indiana cornfield several weeks later.

Hall was convicted on a federal kidnapping charge for crossing state lines in the Roach case and sentenced to life in prison.

A byproduct of Hall’s admissions in the Depies case is that Krueger is fielding calls from other police investigators.

“Now I have other police agencies calling with no evidence and people who just vanished,” Krueger said.

“That was a real big plus that we made it aware that some of these other local agencies in states are tuning in on Larry because they had nowhere to go on their investigations.”

Krueger said the 39 abductions that Hall told the AP reporter about was a “big number,” but he recalled that the handwritten list police seized from Hall in 1994 had “17 or 19 names” including one entry that read: “Lori – Fox River Mall.”

In other cases that Hall has been linked to, he told detectives he buried his victims with their clothes and belongings, along with the “means of death” such as ropes or belts, Krueger said.

When pressed by Krueger, Hall couldn’t remember if he buried Depies’ purse with her. The purse has never been found.

“I think he’s holding back on certain things,” Krueger said. “I don’t think he’s given us everything that he can on Laurie.

“At this point, he just doesn’t want to. (I’ve been told) these are his personal pieces of property and he doesn’t want to give them up. These victims are his.”

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That holding back is common with serial killers. It gives them a sense of power, it allows them to keep control and it adds to their fantasies.

Hall is probably also hoping to get to show them where he buried the bodies. It would be exciting for him. He not only gets attention and out of his cell for a while he also gets to go back to the area where he disposed of the bodies. Many serial killers return to where they killed or buried their victims. Sometimes they go there to masturbate and some even take girlfriends there and have sex on top of where the body is.

I am not say Hall did any of that, although I do not doubt it. I am just thinking of reasons for he might have began confessing.

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