The sleepy city of Germantown, Wisconsin, was shaken to the core by a hectic 911 call on the morning of May 28, 1999.
Someone found a young woman on the side of the road. When the authorities arrived, they found blood on the street and in the grass. The victim, 22-year-old Theresa Wesolowski, lay face down next to her car on the floor. She had been stabbed several times in the front of her body and in the neck, and there was blood on her hands. There was evidence that she had been stabbed in various places – on the street, in the grass, and against the car.
“I think there was anger in this case,” Michael Yogurst, a detective with the Germantown Police Department, told An Unexpected Killer. Fridays at the 8 / 7c on Oxygen.
Tire marks indicated that another car was present in front of Wesolowskis and had sped away, probably taking the murder weapon with it. However, when the investigators found money in Theresa’s handbag, they quickly ruled out a robbery.
Wesolowski’s family were shocked when the authorities notified them. She was very popular with those who knew her and no one could imagine any reason anyone would want to hurt her, especially in such violent ways. The results of the autopsy showed that Wesolowski was likely surprised due to the lack of defensive wounds and that the assailant, who likely held her face down at some point, stabbed her 47 times.
The last time Wesolowski had been seen, she had given up her second job in a box factory around eleven o’clock at night. Interestingly, the police soon received a tip that workers had seen a man at a local public works department who arrived covered in blood. He asked to use a bathroom to clean up and then left immediately. The police had a draftsman take a picture of the suspect and make it available to the public.
Meanwhile, they interviewed Wesolowski’s friends and family and found out that Wesolowski was with a man named Charlie at the time of her murder. The two are said to have often quarreled.
Sitting in front of investigators, Charlie looked nervous, but claimed he’d been home with his mother all night the night of the murder, an alibi his mother supported.
The police turned their attention back to their workplace as the murder took place only a few kilometers from the building. One employee, Mark Libecki, worked the same shift as Wesolowski. The two were close friends, he said, and he explained she seemed to be having a bad day before she was killed.
Others at the factory said Wesolowski saw another colleague, Isaac Alvarez, arguing over their car before they left that night. This piqued police interest, as Alvarez was known for always carrying a knife, but Isaac maintained his innocence during his police interview and the results of a polygraph test were inconclusive.
The police moved on to their next suspect, a man named Jerry Kirkpatrick, who was a delivery man at the sandwich shop Wesolowski worked for. He had followed her romantically, but Wesolowski was not interested. Wesolowski’s friends were particularly suspicious because they thought the police sketch of the blood-covered man at the factory looked like Kirkpatrick.
However, Kirkpatrick also had a solid alibi.
As the weeks and months went on, Wesolowski’s case went cold. It was especially difficult for their loved ones: the police suspected Wesolowski had been killed by someone close to them, but with no evidence of a perpetrator, distrust began to grow in their circle.
“I have become estranged from people because I just didn’t know who to trust or not,” Wesolowski’s best friend Michelle Oostenbrug told the producers.
As years passed without an answer, Wesolowski’s family kept their case alive through an annual vigil. At one of those vigils in 2005, progress was finally made. The family noticed that flower arrangements had been left on their grave, but no one knew who had left them. It was the first clue from the police that maybe someone felt guilty for Theresa’s death.
In the same year a new type of DNA test became available. Thanks to the Y-STR DNA tests, the researchers were able to find traces of male DNA in large amounts of female DNA, which have been described as “finding the single grain of salt in a bag of sugar,” DNA analyst Patty DoBrowski told An Unexpected Killer. “
It was the break the investigators needed. Analysts who retested the blood from Wesolowski’s hands were able to extract male DNA from it. Investigators collected DNA from their prime suspects and even from people vaguely related to the case to find a match they never expected: Mark Libecki, Wesolowski’s friend at the factory.
Speaking to Libecki’s staff, authorities learned that he was a quiet but generally personable guy who was known for showing pictures of his daughters. What was unknown to his employees, however, was that Libecki actually had no children and was never married. He lived with his parents in a mobile home in a rural part of town, and authorities suspected he had lied about his life in order to adjust.
“He had this fake life,” said Yogurst.
However, Libecki’s attorney later claimed he lied about having children so he could not date colleagues and saving money on child support as an excuse, the Milwaukee Journal reported Sentinel in 2009.
The police also learned from another employee that Libecki had asked her what he could do to increase his chances of Wesolowski dating him, which proves that Libecki did indeed have romantic feelings for Theresa. They gathered other evidence as well: his shoes matched the type who left the bloody footprints on the scene, and the type of car he drove matched the acceleration marks on the road.
Finally, the authorities called Libecki to question him at the train station. While he looked confident and comfortable at first, everything changed when he learned of the DNA evidence against him. He started changing his story, telling the detectives he and Wesolowski might have hugged at some point. Then he pointed to another employee, a man named Tom Thompson, and claimed that he had been with him the night of the murder to buy and drink cocaine in his car, and that Wesolowski had been there with them. She had argued with Thompson in Libecki’s back seat, and Thompson had stabbed her, Libecki claimed, and then threatened to keep quiet.
Thompson had died three years before Libecki’s interview with the police, so the police could not question him. Still, those who knew Wesolowski said they were not interested in drugs.
Investigators, still convinced Libecki was their killer, tracked down the car he had been driving at the time of the murder and had it deconstructed, only to find traces of blood under the perforated leather of the seats. Tests showed the blood was Wesolowski, and officials charged Libecki with her murder.
Although he kept his innocence and claimed it was Thompson who did it, authorities believe Libecki was lonely and built a relationship with Wesolowski in his head. He had taken his step on the night of the murder, and when Wesolowski refused, he brutally murdered her.
“He was a monster that night,” Kim Skorlinski, a special agent for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, told the producers.
Libecki was convicted of Wesolowski’s murder. A judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison with no parole.
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