Local 5 Investigates: Brown County’s oldest and only ongoing murder cold case

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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – It is the Brown County Sheriff’s Office’s oldest and only murder cold case in recent years.

19-year-old Doug McMillin was shot to death in his Allouez home in 2009. Detectives have scoured through hundreds of leads but still no suspects have been identified- leaving a family without justice. Now the department is looking at the case with new eyes and are hoping to get new tips that could crack this cold case open.

“Very creative, very intelligent, generous. Ah, very anti-authoritarian,” said James McMillin about his brother Doug McMillin. It’s been 12 years since the then 17-year-old James McMillin’s 19-year-old brother Doug was murdered, changing a family’s life forever, “It has impacted probably every hour, you know, we think about Doug all the time. Christmas rolls around and Doug’s not around,” said James.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office says on the night of March 8th, 2009, two masked, black men broke into Doug’s home on Longview Avenue in Allouez telling the group of young adults there to put their hands up and get on the floor. “They came in, a gun was displayed, they were trying to do basically what you would consider a takeover style robbery: get in, get out, grab drugs, money whatever and ultimately Doug fought back and was murdered,” explained Detective Sergeant Zak Holschbach, Brown County Sheriff Office Investigative Division. 

The two suspects took off. The Sheriff’s Department says the case has been difficult to solve since the beginning. Saying there was scene cleanup. “We know that there are more individuals that witnessed it that fled including fleeing with taking some drugs too,” said Detective Sergeant Holschbach.

Officials say a lot of cash and drugs, mainly marijuana, were found in the home.  Detectives believe the home was likely targeted and it was a drug robbery gone wrong. Sergeant Holschbach says witnesses were reluctant to come forward afterward and others were not truthful, “You have individuals that say, late teens, early twenties involved in the use and or sale of illegal drugs and they don’t want to get in trouble for that.”

“Not fully disclosing everything and being untruthful about details that was a setback for us right from the beginning,” said Sheriff Todd Delain, Brown County Sheriff’s Office. Afterwards, the family was very involved in trying to help solve Doug’s murder. They put up a billboard advertising a five-thousand-dollar reward leading to an arrest and prosecution and hung posters seeking answers, “Trying to get some people in the community to kind of step up,” explained James.

The Sheriff’s Office says the case has always been assigned and worked since 2009.  With hundreds of tips being run down, hundreds of interviews and more than a thousand man-hours.  But still no answers. A few weeks ago, they decided to take deep dive into Doug’s murder cold case, “When these sort of violent crimes occur we are going to work them until we solve them and we are never going to stop working them until they are resolved.  Meaning even though this case is 12 years old it’s still a priority to us,” said Sheriff Delain.

The case landed on Detective Sergeant Zak Holschbach’s desk in the department’s Investigative Division. “We’re not going to just give up.  That’s the point we will never give up on this case,” said Detective Sergeant Holschbach.

As the lead detective Sergeant Holschbach put together a team hoping new eyes will see the evidence differently, “I think just a fresh set of eyes is always helpful in a case like this,” said Detective Sergeant Holschbach, “Taking the time to look at it in depth with the goal of seeing if anything was missed if there is anything new that can be followed up on.”

They’ve poured over the old paper files from 2009 and on. Converting some to floppy disk and then to digital. And it’s already paid off.  “By identifying some items of evidence that we already found in the evidence that was in our possession in the Sheriff’s Office possession that we already submitted to the state crime lab. It paid right off the gate that way and we’ve identified some additional parties we want to interview,” said Detective Sergeant Holschbach.

And hoping advancements in technology over twelve years at the state crime lab will give them some answers from the re-submitted and new evidence. “You think about advances in technology, obviously the big one in DNA, the golden state killer genealogy. What you can develop from small amounts of evidence, touch DNA trace evidence,” explained Detective Sergeant Holschbach.
Hoping to get DNA profiles, “If we get that now that would be a breakthrough in the case,” said Detective Sergeant Holschbach.

Detective Sergeant Holschbach also says a tip could help break this case. He says multiple people witnessed the shooting and the sergeant hopes that the people who were at the home that night, or someone who knows something, will come forward or be more truthful now that they are older. 
“Hopefully, the story reaches someone that says I was hanging out with these individuals doing whatever and maybe they have changed their lifestyle. You know what I’m going to do the right thing now. I know something, I want to report it,” said Detective Sergeant Holschbach.

And the Sheriff’s Office is not looking to charge anyone with drug offenses from Twelve years ago.  They say it’s important to solve this case to get justice, “We get justice for Doug McMillin and his family with the hope to finally provide some closure” explained Sheriff Delain “And hold those person or persons responsible accountable for their actions.”

For Doug’s family, if arrests are made in his murder, James says they are living their lives now. But without his big brother, “I wonder every time I accomplish something I wonder, oh yeah, what would Doug think about that,” said James. Wondering about a life that could have been, “Wonder what kind of person he would have been” said James “Certainly the spirit of Doug is very active in my life and my family’s life.”

As far as suspects in the case, Detective Sergeant Holschbach says they are developing leads. If you have any information about Doug McMillin’s murder you are asked to call Sergeant Holschbach at 920-448-6187. Or you can call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 920-432-STOPPERS (920-432-7867).

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