The Deck - Eddie and Frances Cizauskas (3 of Clubs, Wisconsin)

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Our card this week is Eddie and Francis Sazauskas,

the three of clubs from Wisconsin.

Eddie and Francis were in their mid-70s

and still working hard as successful scrap metal dealers,

when one day, a monster showed up in their junkyard,

leaving behind a mystery

that has lasted for more than three decades.

I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.

I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.

A little after 9 o’clock on Wednesday, November 30th, 1988,

Herbert Baumgart arrived to his friend Eddie’s house

to start the workday.

He was moving a little slower that morning

because there was a fresh dusting of snow on the roads

in their small town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin,

and he wanted to drive safely.

Herbert was 72 and only worked one day a week

at his friend’s well-known junk business,

Eddie’s Jalopi Jungle.

Jalopi is a term for an old car,

and Eddie had fields full of old cars.

Eddie was 75, so a few years older than Herbert,

and he ran the business with his 73-year-old wife, Frances.

The two sometimes joked about retirement,

but never fully committed.

Eddie was a junk dealer,

which basically meant that he collected

and bought old discarded cars and car parts

and other secondhand stuff to resell or trade.

The couple’s property was massive, over 80 acres,

and spread around it were several barns and fields

full of rusty old stuff.

It might’ve looked like a mess,

but it was an organized mess,

and Eddie and Frances lived in a house

on the back of their property near a big barn.

As Herbert turned down their driveway

that Wednesday morning, he noticed that it was extra quiet.

He parked his car by the barn

closest to Eddie and Frances’ house

and tried to get into the barn, but the door was locked.

Now that immediately stuck out as odd,

because every time he’d come over

to help Eddie out with work before,

that barn had never been locked.

In fact, it was even weirder

that Eddie wasn’t already out working,

because usually Herbert would hardly ever

beat Eddie to the barn.

Eddie was always the first to rise in the morning

and get to work.

When Herbert looked between the couple’s house and the barn,

he didn’t notice any tire marks or fresh footprints

in the snow between the two locations.

So he figured the only explanation

was that maybe Eddie and Frances had a late breakfast

and were taking things slow.

So his next move was to head toward the house

and knock on their door.

Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Detective Misty Nelson

said Herbert rapped on the front door a few times

and no one answered.

But when he tried that door, it was unlocked.

And he walks in and doesn’t see anyone in the house

and actually notices that the beds are made.

So he knows that they’re around somewhere

and then goes back out to the barn again.

Herbert was able to get into the barn

using a back door that was unlocked,

but it was dark when he stepped inside.

So he couldn’t see much,

except the outline of some objects and things laying around.

And that’s when he peeks around and sees

what we believe is probably just a body

and he doesn’t know for sure.

Herbert fumbled around and found the lights.

And that’s when he saw the scene

was far worse than he first thought.

On the floor, close to the barn’s front door

was the body of his friend, Eddie.

And laying right next to him was Eddie’s wife, Frances.

It was a horrifying scene.

Eddie looked like he’d been severely beaten in the head

and was covered in blood.

Frances was on her side,

but by the way she was positioned,

it made it so that parts of both of their bodies

were overlapped.

Herbert wasn’t able to see Frances’s face,

so he couldn’t tell if she had suffered

a similar savage beating like her husband.

All he could tell was that neither of them were breathing.

Within seconds of seeing his friends,

Herbert picked up a phone that was in the barn

and called police at 9.38 a.m.

He had called in 911 and had stated

that he had found a man down not breathing in the barn

and then had said that it was the Jalopy Jungle,

which locals here were aware of what that is.

It was a local junkyard.

While he waited for authorities to arrive,

Herbert stepped outside to catch his breath.

He was freaked out being in the barn all by himself.

I mean, what if the killer was still in there?

He had no idea, but he wasn’t gonna take any chances.

The Sezauskas’ property was technically in Sheboygan County,

just outside the town limits.

Now, it’s important to know at the time,

it was in the middle of a possible annexation with the town,

which caused some initial confusion

about which law enforcement jurisdiction

was sent to respond.

But eventually, paramedics and law enforcement officers

from both the town and the county arrived to the scene.

Medical staff were able to determine pretty quickly

that Eddie and Francis had no signs of life.

And after a call to the county coroner

to bring them on scene, the two were pronounced dead.

Right away, deputies got to work looking around.

The barn was full of random stuff.

To be honest, under any other circumstances,

would have appeared to have had signs of ransacking,

but the clutter was to be expected

since Eddie operated a junkyard.

Signs of the couple’s physical attack were obvious, though.

There was blood on some big metal barrels near their bodies

and even more of it on the floor.

Sergeant Lance Dassler,

who’s worked the Sezauskas’ case since about 2005,

said investigators at the scene knew immediately

that the couple had been killed inside the barn.

With the blood that’s on these things,

that’s why we believe that the actual beating

occurred in that room.

Despite searching through all of the junk

and seeing tools and things that might have been able

to cause the couple’s fatal injuries,

an obvious murder weapon,

like something with blood or hair on it,

was nowhere in sight.

One of the responding officers on the scene

speculated that they might be dealing with a murder-suicide.

But after everyone gave that theory some more thought,

the idea fizzled out.

I mean, just from looking at the layout

of the crime scene itself,

the victims’ injuries,

and the absence of any kind of obvious murder weapons

near their bodies, it didn’t make sense.

When they searched Eddie and Frances for any clues,

that’s when they noticed that Eddie’s wallet was missing.

So then detectives wondered

if the killer was motivated by money,

like a robbery gone wrong.

Photos were taken of the scene

and one of the officers did a videotape walkthrough

of the inside and outside of the barn.

But this was 1988,

and whether it was due to a lack of resources

or a lack of training,

the images they captured were few,

and even the ones they did get were not the best quality.

They didn’t take as many photographs

and that of the other parts of the barn,

whereas now, if this happened today,

we would have every inch of this place photographed

and video recorded.

Back then, what do we have,

30-something photos of the crime scene?

32 photos to be exact,

which for a double murder case, Sergeant Dassler is right,

that is not many at all.

Once deputies were done taking videos and photos,

the coroner transported the victims’ bodies for autopsy

and the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office

notified Eddie and Frances’s family members.

The couple didn’t have any children,

but they each had siblings, nieces, and nephews

that they were close with,

who lived nearby and throughout Wisconsin.

Once the family knew,

the word of the crime spread fast throughout the community.

This was big news.

We don’t have homicides very often

in Sheboygan County, thankfully, and we still don’t.

We’re very fortunate like that,

so for this to be a double homicide

of an elderly couple at that,

people running a business, just trying to,

hardworking people still working at their age,

it was big news.

I grew up in Sheboygan, I remember when it happened.

I was a kid just out of high school at that point,

or still in high school at that point,

and, no, everybody was talking about it.

It was big news in Sheboygan, too,

that something like this had happened.

In some cases, word was spreading so fast,

it got to family members before police could,

like with Frances’s sister, Annette.

Annette was actually one

of the first people investigators talked to,

but she told detectives

that before police ever even came over,

her phone had been ringing off the hook,

with family members telling her bits and pieces

of disjointed information

that basically something bad had happened

over at Frances and Eddie’s property.

Eventually, a family member called her that morning

and said Eddie was found dead,

but the details were slim,

and the relative wasn’t able

to tell her anything about Frances.

Annette said she tried a few times

to call over to her sister’s place, but no one answered.

And Annette knew this was weird

because she said that she

and Frances talked on the phone regularly,

like multiple times a day.

It was at that point police had to break the news to her.

Eddie was, in fact, dead, and so was her sister.

And worse, the two had been murdered.

After she regained her composure,

she helped detectives start to form a timeline

of the couple’s last communications and movements.

Annette revealed that she had talked

to Frances Tuesday morning, November 29th, at 8 a.m.

That was just 24 hours before the crime scene was discovered.

They were talking about it snowing,

and Frances was talking about having to go into town,

and in the afternoon it called for rain,

and that she would maybe just wait

until the afternoon to go

because of the snow in the morning.

When Annette called back around 11.50,

there was no answer and no call back.

And then, so she called again around 8 p.m. that evening,

and again, no answer.

Based on that information, police started to wonder

if Annette’s calls that Frances had missed on Tuesday

meant that Eddie and Frances were killed that day,

and not the morning of Wednesday, November 30th,

like investigators initially thought.

The next person authorities talked to

was Eddie and Frances’ nephew, a man named Dale,

who said that he’d also tried to reach Eddie and Frances

on November 29th.

He said that he received no answer

after leaving the phone ring 10 to 15 times,

and then Dale said that his wife had also tried calling

every hour after 10 p.m.

in an effort to make contact with them.

Dale and his wife were a little worried

that Eddie and Frances weren’t answering,

but they held off on calling the police for a welfare check

because they didn’t think it was totally warranted.

On Thursday, just a day after Eddie and Frances were found,

news of their murders hit local newsstands and TV outlets.

The December 1st, 1988 front page of the Sheboygan Press

read, Homicide Suspected in Death of Couple.

A photo of a cop car parked outside the Sezauskas’ barn

ran underneath the headline.

The article quoted officials from a news conference

they held that morning.

A Sheboygan County District Attorney at the time

said the couple’s cause of death were still being determined,

but since all signs pointed to their deaths

being suspicious in nature,

the case was being investigated as a double homicide.

Reporters at the press conference asked officials

if they determined a motive for the crime,

but detectives couldn’t provide one,

reiterating that Eddie and Frances were well-known,

loved, and respected in the community.

Basically, they would say it was just too early to speculate.

Later that same day, a resident pathologist in Sheboygan County

conducted the couple’s autopsies at a local hospital.

While investigators awaited those results,

they continued to process the crime scene for clues.

Like Sergeant Dassler said earlier,

detectives’ main theory at the time

was that Eddie and Frances had been killed in the barn.

But just for good measure,

deputies also wanted to look around the couple’s house

for more evidence.

And it’s during that search

that police found something really interesting.

When Sheboygan County deputies processed Eddie and Frances’ house

after their murders,

they found signs that things weren’t quite right.

There was definitely something that happened in the house

that leads us to believe

that there was some type of initial confrontation in the house.

If that sounds vague to you, that’s because it is.

Wisconsin investigators still won’t say

what they found inside Eddie and Frances’ house.

What Sergeant Dassler would confirm for our team

is that the house itself was not ransacked.

And this detail about what deputies found in the house

would be something that only the killer or killers

would know about,

which is why they aren’t telling the public.

Whatever this clue was,

it strongly indicated to investigators

that the house was not ransacked.

And that’s why we’re not going to go into the details

of what happened in the house right now.

We’re going to go into the details of what happened

It strongly indicated to investigators back in the day

that whoever the suspect or suspects were,

they might have come over to the junkyard

with intentions to rob the couple.

That idea has been floated

with a lot of different variations.

Eddie stumbles across these people on the property,

maybe they’re looking for money.

Ultimately, they confront him,

whether or not somebody then goes into the house

to get Frances, to try to get her,

to encourage him to cooperate and give the money up.

We’re not certain, obviously.

After the newspaper story about the couple’s murder

on Thursday, December 1st,

members of the community started calling in tips.

And there was a theme among those phone calls

that fed into this idea

that perhaps robbery was the killer’s main motive.

So there were always rumors that they had a lot of money.

You know, the business that they were involved in

was a lot of times,

in particular back in the 80s, was all cash.

Eddie was kind of rumored

to always have like a roll of cash on him

when he was out and about in the community.

So people knew that he had cash.

There were rumors that we’ve heard during the investigation

that people would say,

oh, you know, there was rumors

that they had cash hidden around on the property

and things of that nature.

Before authorities could really dig into those leads,

the autopsy results for Eddie came in.

An article in the Sheboygan Press from December 2nd

reported that Eddie had been hit in the head

with a blunt object enough times

to cause catastrophic open wounds.

He had been bludgeoned to death.

But Frances, on the other hand, was a different story.

Pathologists had a hard time figuring out

exactly how she died.

The Sheboygan County coroner at the time,

a man named Dave Leffin,

said that he couldn’t rule out blunt force trauma

or strangulation for Frances’ cause of death.

He said the only thing he could rule out was a heart attack.

But then Leffin turned right around

and basically contradicted himself

when he told the Sheboygan Press

that Frances’ autopsy, quote,

doesn’t rule out several possibilities,

such as dying of fright

as if she had just seen her husband get killed, end quote.

Since the autopsy results were gonna be crucial

to the investigation,

the coroner called in backup from a forensic pathologist

with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.

As investigators at the sheriff’s office

awaited that doctor’s findings,

they headed back to the barn

to continue looking for clues or items

that might have been used to inflict Eddie’s injuries.

They wanted and honestly needed to find the murder weapon

if it was laying around there somewhere,

blending in with the rest of the junk in the barn.

But as you can imagine,

finding a club-like murder weapon

that was used in a deadly beating in a barn full of junk

proved to be damn near impossible.

There were tire irons, pipes, car parts, wrenches,

and other tools and machinery

that could have easily been used to kill someone.

The problem was none of those things had any blood on them

and most didn’t appear as if they’d been cleaned either.

Detectives even sent a dive team

to search the nearby Pigeon River,

but that turned up nothing.

But luckily, the Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s Office

did have something.

By December of 1988,

they had determined a cause of death for Frances.

She was strangled to death.

This was confusing to investigators back then.

Honestly, it’s confusing to me now.

I mean, for one thing,

it’s strange that there weren’t more obvious signs of that

for the coroner to see,

but most importantly,

their two victims had two different causes of death.

So different, in fact,

that the medical findings caused detectives to wonder

if they were dealing with two killers instead of just one.

Maybe someone held Eddie

and decided to beat him in front of Frances,

which then caused her to scream,

so maybe another perpetrator strangled her.

All of the questions and possible scenarios

were swirling for investigators.

And there were actually some details

in the couple’s autopsy reports

that somewhat supported this version of events.

The documents stated that there were ligature markings

found on their bodies,

which made detectives strongly suspect

that both Eddie and Frances

could have been tied up before they were killed.

The only thing that didn’t jive with that

was the fact that when their bodies were found,

there were no restraints on them,

nothing like rope or twine anywhere.

So either the killer removed the ligatures

after killing the couple and took it with them,

or the marks were from something else

that police couldn’t explain.

Tied up or not, the big question was still about motive.

Despite searching all over Eddie and Frances’ barn,

home, and property,

police never had any luck finding money stashed away

or large quantities of cash

that the couple were rumored to have had.

And if somehow it was just missed,

it’s probably never gonna be found.

In the years since the crime,

their acreage has been sold

and part of it annexed into the city limits.

The barns are no longer there,

and even the road near their property has been rerouted.

Today, the area looks nothing like it did back in 1988.

For weeks after the crime,

deputies with the sheriff’s office

worked through tons of tips that they’d received,

and they decided there were three main angles,

or I guess you could say there are three concrete leads

that they felt were worth pursuing.

The first, and probably the farthest stretch

in investigators’ eyes,

was that maybe the couple had been killed

because Eddie had been resistant

to let his 80 acres of land be annexed by the town.

Eddie and Frances’ great nephew, Justin Skvars,

has heard this rumor over and over throughout the years,

and he believes wholeheartedly it is far-fetched.

I’ve had a number of people reach out to me on Facebook

and send me their tin hat takes on this,

and I mean, it’s just so preposterous.

Justin lives out of state now,

but he was born and raised in Sheboygan.

He was just a toddler

when his great aunt and uncle were killed.

I certainly think that my parents shielded me

from what had happened at the time

and probably maybe discussed it in front of me,

but I was maybe too young to understand.

I certainly remember going to the junkyard pretty vividly.

They were such good people,

and everybody that I reached out to,

if they didn’t have a tip or a lead,

told me a great story about how Eddie and Fran

either cut them a deal or helped them out

or was willing to lend a hand when other places weren’t.

The sheriff’s office never seriously considered the theory

about Eddie being a target over his land

possibly being annexed by the town.

I mean, it’s true that Eddie fought against the annexation,

but according to everyone our team interviewed,

his conversations about it with town officials were civil.

Justin said, out of all the rumors

that still pop up about Eddie and Francis’s murder,

that one might be the worst.

I can tell you that in Sheboygan County,

there’s no land worth a double murder.

It’s just one of those theories

that just doesn’t want to seem to go away,

and people always just seem to bring it up.

The next lead police looked into

came from information they’d received

about a high school kid

who lived really close to Eddie and Francis.

There was an individual who, at the time of the crimes,

was like 17 or 18 years old

who ran his mouth at some parties in Sheboygan.

So he was a high school-aged kid,

ran his mouth at some parties.

Like, he was the tough guy,

and he was responsible for the murders.

He lived a couple blocks away from the Zazowskis'.

Sergeant Dassler said detectives at the time

interviewed the teenager,

but he denied being involved in the murders.

Deputies continued to keep the pressure on him

in follow-up interviews,

but every time he denied any involvement,

saying that he was just mouthing off at a party

and people shouldn’t have taken him seriously.

Ultimately, police started to doubt his viability

as a suspect the longer that they spoke with him,

because at one point,

they learned that he’d bragged

about shooting the Zazowskis'.

Apparently, he’d said this statement to a friend

before the couple’s cause of death were made public,

and police knew that the evidence did not show

a gun had been used in the murders.

Some of the things that were coming in

in reference to him being involved

don’t match the crime scene.

There was talk that they were shot, and they weren’t.

So there’s things like that,

but those things really sidetracked people

for a long time in the investigation.

The rumor about the teenage boy bragging around town

made its way back to Eddie and Frances’ family members,

and it was truly hurtful.

So sick and so disgusting

that you would brag about committing a double murder

of an elderly couple

and take it as some kind of badge of honor

or make it look like you did this and you’re to be feared.

It took police back in the late 80s a long time

to figure out that the bragging teenager lead

was a waste of their time.

So it was months before they really moved on

to their next theory.

Their last solid avenue of the investigation

had to do with this local guy

who was known for burglarizing businesses in Sheboygan.

We know his real name,

but police asked us not to reveal it,

so we’re gonna call him Roger throughout this episode.

He was a bad guy, I guess, for lack of better terms.

He was a career criminal,

kind of was known as kind of a fighter in the area.

Roger was known to target local businesses

and steal cash from their registers.

A lot of the tips the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office

fielded in the first few weeks of the investigation

had to do with him being involved somehow.

So police wanted to talk to Roger

and anyone he ran around town with.

They got a hold of four of his friends,

three of whom who all agreed to be interviewed by police.

And each of those guys denied committing the murders.

And the fourth guy just flat out refused to cooperate.

But deputies also interviewed people

associated with the men,

like their spouses and other acquaintances.

And they got enough information to confirm

that the men and Roger had all been together

at a roofing job earlier in the day on November 29th.

And none of them seemed to have had strong alibis

for that afternoon,

which was the window of time

that authorities believed Fran and Addie had been killed.

Investigators felt in their guts

that if the group was involved,

Roger was definitely their ringleader.

He was this guy who once you probably met him,

you probably didn’t forget him.

He had white, almost, or blonde, almost white hair,

real ice blue eyes is what everybody else said.

He kind of stood out.

So there’s a good chance that they recognized him

and he knew, based on what we’re doing,

we can’t leave them.

Roger’s criminal history built him such a reputation

as a brazen burglar,

that he’s the subject of folklore in Sheboygan.

People there still tell stories about him

and how he was known to walk into businesses after hours

and literally pick up safes full of money and valuables

and just carry them out by himself,

like some kind of supervillain.

Deputies and town police officers

knew Roger’s lengthy rap sheet made him a strong suspect.

So they worked to build a case against him

for several of the other crimes

they believed he was responsible for around town,

basically thinking that

if they could just put enough pressure on him,

he would come clean about the Sosowskis’ homicides.

While they sat on Roger,

authorities knew they needed to find physical evidence

that might tie him to the crime,

or at least eliminate him entirely.

In 1988, DNA testing came on the scene.

So investigators sent the clothing

that Francis and Eddie had been wearing

when they were killed

to the state crime lab for further analysis.

Unfortunately, because the technology

was still so limited at the time,

techs weren’t able to detect any foreign DNA

on any of the items.

Then in June of 1989,

a cleaning crew that had been hired

to clean out Eddie and Francis’ barn

came across something that police had missed,

Eddie’s wallet.

Cleaners had found it discarded

in a random barrel inside the barn.

They turned the wallet over

to the Sheboygan County detectives

who opened it up and found no cash inside, only Eddie’s ID.

Just like all the physical evidence so far in this case,

the wallet was sent off to the state lab for processing,

but they didn’t find any fingerprints or DNA on it.

A few months later, in the fall of 1989,

police arrested Roger

and they charged him with 20 burglaries,

crimes totally unrelated to the double homicide.

When it came time for his sentencing,

the judge gave 44-year-old Roger 100 years in prison.

So basically a life sentence.

According to court documents,

Roger and his lawyers appealed that sentence,

arguing to the state’s high court that it was excessive.

The justices on the appellate level

ended up agreeing with their argument

and then Roger was given a lesser sentence,

95 years instead of 100.

How that makes a ton of sense, I don’t know,

but back to prison he went.

Despite all their efforts to pressure Roger

while he served time,

detectives working Francis in Eddie’s case

still didn’t have any hard evidence

linking him to the two murders,

but he still remained their best suspect.

In 1990, so two years after the murders,

the sheriff’s office officially confirmed to the local press

that they had a suspect,

though without specifically naming Roger.

But reading between the lines,

everyone in the area, including the public and the press,

assumed that Roger was who authorities considered their guy.

Throughout the early 1990s,

investigators worked to investigate Roger

and his associates,

and each of them was brought in for polygraph exams.

But the results aren’t exactly clear.

Current investigators don’t have any documentation

of what was said in those lie detector tests

or who might have passed and who might have failed.

Detectives working the case today

chalk the absence of these reports

up to the detectives in the 90s not taking very good notes.

Dassler and Nelson said if the investigators back then

did at some point have documentation

of the polygraph results,

they also might have just gotten lost

in unorganized evidence storage,

which is actually more common than you’d think.

But regardless, the polygraphs that were done in the 90s

must not have been very helpful

because after that, the case went cold.

Throughout the late 90s, as DNA testing was evolving,

the sheriff’s office resubmitted the victim’s clothing

for further analysis as many times as possible,

hoping for a break in the case.

But every time they got a call from the lab,

they got bad news.

The results were worthless.

The tests were still not detecting any foreign DNA

on the clothing, which could mean one of two things.

Either the technology back then wasn’t good enough,

which we all know was the case in the 90s

when the use of DNA testing in criminal cases was still new,

or two, the killer or killers literally did not leave

any DNA at the crime scene.

So with no forensic evidence materializing

despite so many submissions to the DNA lab,

the case continued to stall.

Tips eventually stopped coming in too,

and investigators were losing hope of ever closing the case.

But then in the summer of 1998, a decade after the crime,

something unbelievable happened.

They asked him specifically if he was involved

and he said, yes, but I didn’t hurt them.

I only wanted to take their money.

In June of 1998, the sheriff’s office heard that Roger,

their primary suspect in the murders,

was dying of cancer in prison.

So they thought, how about we try

and get a deathbed confession out of him?

But instead of sending a Sheboygan County detective,

an FBI agent who was familiar with Roger

and already had some rapport with him

from his other crimes was sent to do the interview.

He goes there, interviews him.

Ultimately, he gives a quasi confession

to being involved in this case.

He essentially says that he was aware

of the Jalopy Jungle having a lot of money

hidden around the junkyard

and that him and his partners just wanted the money.

Now, this sounds like a solid break in the case, right?

I mean, this federal agent must have been standing

over Roger’s hospital prison bed thinking,

okay, game over, case solved, we can all go home now.

But somehow, for reasons current homicide detectives

cannot even explain,

the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office

never got word of this deathbed half confession,

which I know is bananas.

What’s even more wild, Wisconsin investigators

don’t even find out about it until 2006, eight years later.

We see in a report, there’s like a fax cover sheet

that says, hey, here’s what he said.

See what you can do with this.

But yet there’s no report attached to it.

We don’t know what happened.

The fax didn’t come through completely

and the detective who he sent it to got tied up

and never followed up to say,

hey, where’s the rest of the report or whatever?

But we hadn’t seen that until we found that fax sheet

just going through the files one day.

And get this, Roger died literally

the day after his confession to the FBI agent.

So even if county detectives had known about it at the time,

it was too late for them to go back

and ask him any follow-up questions.

So in 2006, when new detectives

who were reinvestigating the Sazowskis case

tracked down the full 1998 interview with Roger,

they were really looking forward to hearing for themselves

exactly what he said.

But once they got ahold of the tape,

they realized that there were actually

some things Roger mentioned that didn’t really add up.

For one, Roger said something

about putting the couple in a closet,

which was a detail homicide detectives

had no evidence to support.

We’re thinking something’s just not right about this.

We don’t have anything about them

having been in a closet, things like that.

So what we decided to do is we start looking

at previous crimes that these guys were involved in.

Police found out that Roger and his group of friends

had committed a home invasion

not long before Eddie and Frances’ murders

in a neighboring county.

That crime involved an elderly couple

that they had tied up and put in a closet.

But there’s one major difference

between that crime and the Sazowskis case.

Roger and his friends didn’t kill the other couple.

They didn’t even injure them.

I mean, I’m sure the ordeal was still very traumatic

for those two victims,

but Roger and his buddies just stole some money

and then left.

Sergeant Dassler has always wondered

if maybe Roger had been so heavily medicated

and close to death when he spoke with the FBI

that maybe he might’ve gotten the two crimes confused.

According to police,

during his June 1998 interview with the FBI agent,

Roger became so sick that his nurse at the prison

had to respond to the room and adjust his oxygen.

So medical staff stopped the interview

and then Roger died.

So around the time that Sergeant Dassler

was finding this out in 2006,

the sheriff’s office started working

with the Wisconsin Department of Justice

to take another crack at solving the case,

which generated some publicity.

Based on some of those news stories that ran in 2007,

Francis and Eddie’s nephew, Justin,

took a renewed interest in his aunt and uncle’s case.

I was in law school at the time

and because Eddie and Fran had no children,

there was nobody really following up

with law enforcement at the time.

So because of my burdening legal background,

I decided that I would kind of take the reins

and be my family’s advocate for Eddie and Fran.

In 2007 and 2008, Justin started doing some outreach

to see what he could find out.

He also filed records requests

to launch an informal investigation of his own.

To be honest with you, you know,

I had always known that there had been suspects

and that there was a group of suspects specifically

that were always suspected to have activity

or be involvement at least,

but social media was a real game changer

and it’s a tool that obviously my parents

and my grandparents didn’t have at their disposal

and certainly not in 1988.

It allowed me to finally be able to reach out to those people

and speak to them directly, introduce myself,

tell them who I was,

tell them that I had a personal interest in the story

and to ask questions.

In 2008, on the 20-year anniversary of their murders,

the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office

put up billboards around town

asking for anyone with information on the cold case

to come forward.

The billboards showed Francis and Eddie’s photos.

The county strategically placed them on specific roads

knowing Roger’s old co-conspirators

who’d been involved in his previous crimes

would drive by and see them.

And that did drum up a new lead,

one that detectives thought could close the case for good.

We ultimately end up with some witnesses,

one witness in particular that says,

I was driving through that day,

I end up seeing people that I’m familiar with,

one of them being in the area of the Chilappe jungle.

That name the witness mentioned was Roger,

but the witness was loosely credible.

He told authorities that back in 1988,

he’d been Roger’s cocaine dealer.

And on November 29th,

he’d been coming through Sheboygan with his girlfriend

and he had seen Roger and Roger’s van

at Eddie and Francis’s house the day of the murders.

Sergeant Dassler and his partner at the time

did confirm the man had cocaine-related arrests

from back in 88,

but they wanted to corroborate

this man’s statement beyond that.

We ultimately take a trip down to Jasper, Alabama

to speak with that witness’s girlfriend.

She does not recall that at all.

It ends up being that she has no memory of that.

When detectives interviewed him later,

the man recalled it being a nice sunny day outside

on November 29th, 1988 in Sheboygan.

But authorities knew that the weather

on the day of the murders

had actually been the exact opposite.

For investigators, little inaccuracies like that

made the witness less credible,

and they wondered if he had ulterior motives

for coming forward,

like maybe getting old charges amended

in exchange for info about Roger.

In the end, the lead ended up going nowhere.

Justin said that for his family,

ups and downs like this in the case have been really hard.

The sheriff’s office had said multiple times

that it could be a matter of days if things go right.

If things don’t go right,

it could be a matter of weeks or months.

And here we are 33 years later,

and there’s still no formal charges.

It’s been incredibly frustrating

because I do feel like we are incredibly close.

I mean, even in my investigation as a private citizen,

a invested private citizen at that,

but I believe I know who’s responsible for their murders.

With regards to the investigation that I’ve done,

I believe that I have a strong circumstantial case,

understanding the burden of proof and the charges,

the possible charges that this suspect group would face.

However, I don’t think that it’s any secret

that the Chabon County Sheriff’s Office

is waiting for at least one person to come forward

who has vital information.

And if you read the articles

about Eni and Fran within the newspaper,

it’s pretty clear that there’s at least one,

probably more people or more people

that have that pertinent knowledge

that could make it an open-and-shut case.

If there’s one thing Justin could say

to the person or group of people

responsible for killing his Aunt Frances and Uncle Eddie,

it would be this.

Put yourself in my shoes.

I mean, it’s horrible to have to experience this,

and it’s even worse to not have resolution.

Eni and Fran were good people.

They didn’t deserve this.

If you can imagine losing family

in the horrendous way that we did,

if it was your loved one,

you would want somebody to come forward,

just do the right thing.

Sergeant Dassler said today

they’re working with state and federal authorities

to get all of Roger’s old friends in

to take new polygraph tests.

Without fingerprints or foreign DNA at the scene,

the key to solving the case is gonna be information

that’s been kept under wraps for decades.

Justin said that his family’s even supportive

of one suspect getting an immunity deal

if that’s what helps close the case.

I feel like if one person gets immunity

but still goes on the record and states what happened

and it gets a conviction on everybody else who’s culpable,

while that wouldn’t be the best result,

it would still be justice for Eni and Fran.

I mean, unfortunately now,

people who are responsible for a murder

have been, double murder, have been walking free,

walking the streets for 33 years.

In my opinion, it’s absolute travesty

that these people have been part of society

and walking the streets

after committing a heinous double murder.

So I think the best possible option,

which would have been a swift arrest and conviction,

is out the door.

I’m just hoping that at some point,

we are able to have charges

and that these people who committed this horrible,

unspeakable act of violence are brought to justice.

Eni and Francis Czajauskas were living honest, quiet lives

when somebody stole their futures from them.

They were in their 70s and healthy for their ages.

They might’ve enjoyed a nice, long retirement

but never got the chance.

If you know anything about the 1988 Czajauskas double murder

in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, come forward.

It could be the missing piece that’s needed

to give their families delayed justice.

You can call the Sheboygan County Dispatch

at 920-459-3112.

The Deck is an AudioChuck production

with theme music by Ryan Lewis.

To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work,


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Do you approve?