Special Report: Answers for Rosemary

Baihly Warfield
Updated: May 21, 2019 06:29 PM

On April 18, 1980, there was a party at a Hawthorne, Wis. ball park. 


"It was in the 70s and sunny, and it was tank tops and flip flops and shorts weather," Robin Krawza said. 

Her best friend, Rosemary Krawza Wermter was there. 

"She was very stubborn, very beautiful, but nice and warm too," Robin said. 

Rosemary and Robin would have eventually become sisters-in-law. Rosemary's brother John was interested in Robin. 

"She had told me a couple months before that he wanted to ask me out," Robin said. 

He got up the nerve, and in 1989, Robin married him. But Rosemary didn't live long enough to be at their wedding.

Her life was cut short when she was just 27, the night of that spring celebration by the Hawthorne baseball field. 

The party began Friday night and lasted well into Saturday morning. 

"(Rosemary), I guess, ended up here at the party," Robin said.  "And she was killed."

Sometime overnight, while the party went on just across the street, Rosemary ended up on the baseball diamond. Someone cut her throat, killing her. 

Film from 1980 helps piece together what the immediate investigation uncovered. 

"Upon arriving, our deputies were shown a large blood, amount of blood on the diamond of the ballpark," the then-sheriff, Fred Johnson, said. "And there were drag marks as though a body was dragged to the edge of woods."

Sheriff's deputies found her body on April 19, Saturday afternoon. 

"The deputy followed the drag marks into the woods, temporarily lost it around a little swampy area, picked it up again on the other side of the swamp, followed it in," Sheriff Johnson said in 1980, "and found under a tree, a pine tree, found a body of a female."

Robin remembers how devastating that time was. 

"The news media, one of the channels, had released some disturbing news that the family wasn't informed about ahead of time, that she was found without clothes on," Robin said. "So that was upsetting."

In 2005, 25 years after it happened, Douglas County Chief Deputy Gerald Moe started taking another look at the case. 

"You kind of start from square 1," Moe said. "I start interviewing people all over again."

Moe said there were up to 70 people at the party that night. 

"I've been from one end of the state to the other trying to track people down. There's people in Florida, California, that I try to talk to," he said. 

And Robin hopes after all this time, someone might open up. 

"I know there were a lot of young teenagers that used to come to the parties and stuff, they might have seen something and not even realized or was scared or, you know, afraid they'd get in trouble if they said anything," she said. 

She described being back at that baseball field as "an eerie feeling," and said Rose's murder changed a lot of people's lives. 

"I had a little bit of fear, but just more a loneliness. You know? A loss," she described. 

Four months after the crime, in August 1980, a man stood trial, charged with Rosemary's murder. A jury acquitted him. 

Deputy Moe believes they made the right call. He thinks the murderer is still out there. 

"It's troubling that people know what happened over here ... and they're alright with it," Moe said, "just like it was another day in Hawthorne."

Still, he feels it is a solvable case. A few years ago, Douglas County hired a part-time investigator specifically to look at cold cases. He and Moe still work on Rosemary's a couple times a month. 

"If we got some new information tomorrow, we would be on it," Moe said. 

That is Robin's hope -- new information. 

"I guess I want to know the truth," she said. "Do I think they're still out there? Alive or dead, they are." 

Knowing who did it and why won't heal the heartache of 39 years of unanswered questions. 

"You know, her mother died not knowing exactly what happened," Robin said. "And that's tragic."

But Robin doesn't see why now couldn't be the time to get answers for Rosemary. 

"If you've seen something, say something. If you overheard a conversation, anything, get ahold of the sheriff's department. Please."

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office can be reached at (715) 395-1230.


Baihly Warfield

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