A Young Wisconsin Woman Was Killed Leaving Work, Her Case Went Unsolved For 10 Years

The lead detective on the 1999 murder case assured Theresa Wesolowski’s family he would not retire until he found her killer.

August 11, 2022
22-year-old Theresa Wesolowski, pictured here smiling, was found murdered on May 28, 1999. The case wouldn't be solved for another ten years.

The lead detective on the 1999 murder case assured Theresa Wesolowski’s family he would not retire until he found her killer.

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from "People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of the 90s")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from "People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of the 90s")

22-year-old Theresa Wesolowski was a tenacious young woman who worked hard to make her own way in Germantown, Wisconsin, a village northwest of Milwaukee.

Theresa was working two full time jobs in 1999 — at a sandwich shop on the first shift followed by second shift at a box factory. She was fiercely independent and bought a car with her own money at age 16 followed by her own home a few blocks from her parents at age 20. She was determined to break free of the paycheck-to-paycheck life that plagued so many of the people around her.

She excelled at her jobs. She learned the regular customers’ favorite sandwiches and would begin preparing them as she saw their vehicles pull into the parking lot. At the box factory, she got along well with her mostly-male coworkers and developed close friendships with some of them.

May 27, 1999 was the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and it was a completely typical day for Theresa. She served sandwiches that morning at the restaurant and then ran home to change clothes before her shift at the factory. She reminded her older brother, Tony, to feed her dog later that day as she raced out the door to clock in on time.

Theresa worked her shift that night and stopped briefly to chat with her friend, Jeff Kohler. Jeff worked third shift, so he was about to clock in as Theresa was headed home. The two chatted and Jeff asked when Theresa was going to switch off second shifts to join him on third.

He didn’t know it would be the last time he’d see his friend.

A Horrific Discovery

Dispatchers received a 911 call early on the morning of May 28. The man on the phone reported he had seen a body laying on River Road just west of the box factory. Police descended on the scene.

There was a large blood stain laying in the center of the road not far from Theresa’s two-door Pontiac. It appeared that she’d been dragged to the passenger side of her vehicle, which was parked along the side of the road. Her head was laying across the grate of a storm drain. Her car keys were laying nearby, and her wallet was still in the car.

Immediately, authorities noticed that she’d been stabbed multiple times, including two particularly nasty wounds to her neck. The only clues were some bloody footprints and acceleration marks as if another vehicle had been there but left quickly.

When Theresa didn’t show up for her morning shift in the sandwich shop, her manager called Tony to see where she was. Immediately, he knew something was very, very wrong. Theresa would have never skipped her shift.

Find out what happened after Theresa left the factory on People Magazine Presents: Crimes of the 90s “Roadside Murder” airing August 12 at 8/7c. on ID.

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