WI WI - Robert Joseph Fritz, 5, Campbellsport, 14 May 1983


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Jul 12, 2006
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Missing Since: May 14, 1983 from Campbellsport, Wisconsin
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: August 5, 1977
Age: 5 years old
Height and Weight: 4'0, 50 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Blond hair, blue eyes. Robert has a strawberry birthmark on his outer left thigh just above his knee. At the time of his disappearance it was two inches by three inches, or about the size of a cigarette pack; it may be larger now and lighter in color. Robert had difficulty pronouncing the letters T, K and R at the time of his disappearance. His nickname is Bobby Joe, which is sometimes spelled "Bobbie Joe."
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A red, blue and gray short-sleeved shirt, dark blue pants and brown cowboy boots.

Details of Disappearance

Robert was last seen playing in an empty lot in his family's Campbellsport, Wisconsin neighborhood on May 14, 1983. The lot was beside the Mill Pond/Milwaukee River in the area where the Campbellsport Firehouse now stands. He was with his sister and friends approximately one-half block from the family's residence when he was last seen. He told his sister he was hungry and was going to walk home between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Robert never arrived home and has never been heard from again.

After Robert's disappearance, an extensive search was made of the Milwaukee River, but no trace of him was ever found. He lived with his mother and six siblings at the time of his disappearance; his father and some other siblings lived in Illinois. Robert's father has since died and his mother has moved away from the Campbellsport area. Authorities eventually concluded that he must have been abducted. His case remains unsolved.

Robert closely resembled his brother, Tony, in childhood and may look like him as an adult. A photograph of Tony is posted below this case summary.


Above: Tony Fritz

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Fond Du Lac County Sheriff's Office



Well-Known Member
Mar 17, 2010
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Contradicting information in this sad case. Charlie Project said Robert was playing in a vacant lot, and told his sister he was hungry and that he would walk home. Fdlreporter says that Robert was at home, presumably playing in the yard when he vanished. The two hour time frame is consistent in both accounts for that day.



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Oct 4, 2014
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The Lost: What ever happened to Bobby Joe Fritz?


While some initially suspected Bobby Joe drowned in the nearby mill pond, the prevailing theory is that he was abducted and killed. Investigators came to believe that the boy was buried in neighboring Sheboygan County near Waldo.

The Fritz family remains shattered three-plus decades after he went missing. He was just a few months shy of his sixth birthday.

“I was hoping they would have found Bobby Joe before I died,” his mother told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. These days, Szabo lives in Stephenson in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

“I’ve given up all hope on everything," she said. "It's hard for me to admit it, but I think he's dead. It's been 34 years. There is no sign of him. I can only hope so much."

One year after Bobby Joe vanished, authorities in Sheboygan County identified a convicted child sex offender named Michael Scott Menzer as a strong suspect in his disappearance. However, Bobby Joe's investigation would not make any substantial inroads at the time. In October 1990, investigators tore up Menzer’s property in the tiny village of Waldo, current population 500, in an effort to find Bobby Joe's buried body or clothes.

Remnants of decayed children's clothes and four small bones were found within Menzer's property, according to search warrant records. The documents reflect that Lynn Rusch, an archaeologist at the Wisconsin Historical Society, "could not tell if it was animal or human, but stated that due to the fact that the hip socket had not fused itself to the long bone, it appeared to be that of a juvenile."

However, DNA technology was in its infancy, so the evidence was not subjected to advanced scientific testing. Time elapsed. The clues remained inside an evidence storage unit. Menzer was never charged in connection with Bobby Joe’s kidnapping, but was given a 40-year federal prison sentence in 1993. A jury convicted him of burning down his Waldo Mill property in 1990, killing his stepsons, ages 8 and 7. In 2008, Menzer died of cancer while in custody. He was 59.

The lack of answers makes Bobby Joe's disappearance that much more troubling to bear, said Tony Fritz, an older brother who lives in Illinois.

"I think (Menzer) took more to the grave than what they know about," Tony Fritz said.

During the investigation, Szabo was put under the microscope, enduring a barrage of confrontational questions from FBI agents.

"A couple of the detectives from the FBI came to my house and hollered, 'What did you do with Bobby Joe?' They thought I killed him and got rid of his body," she recalled. "I told them to get out and not to come back."

People around town also speculated that Bobby Joe's mother gave away her son or sold him because the family had little money. At the time, she was collecting public assistance to make ends meet.

Eventually, both of the boy's parents were cleared as suspects.

Fritz, Wetterling cases share tragic bond

Millions know the horror story of Jacob Wetterling, the 11-year-old Minnesota boy who was abducted while riding his bicycle along a dirt road in 1989. But another nightmarish crime that unfolded in Wisconsin during the 1980s — the disappearance of Campbellsport's Bobby Joe Fritz — is mostly forgotten.

There are similarities in how the abduction cases unfolded, with one glaring difference: Wetterling's case has been solved.


Kentucky - Texas - Kansas - Missouri
May 27, 2013
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Can they do DNA now on the bones that were found since science has gotten better


Just Sayin'
Mar 4, 2014
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FBI: Bones from suspect's yard not Bobby Joe Fritz

SHEBOYGAN - The FBI has determined that several small bone fragments dug up 27 years ago from the yard of a man who has since died in prison were not those of Bobby Joe Fritz, who vanished in 1983.

"They were tested, and they had all come from animals, so we struck out there," Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department Inspector Jim Risseeuw told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

The department made a renewed push in the past year to solve the case of the 5-year-old missing boy, even though he disappeared from neighboring Campbellsport in Fond du Lac County.

Authorities have long suspected that their prime suspect, Michael Scott Menzer, buried Fritz's body in rural Sheboygan County, perhaps near his property in the small community of Waldo.

Despite circumstantial evidence pointing to Menzer, he was never charged in the boy's abduction. Menzer died of cancer in federal prison in 2008 while serving a 40-year sentence for two counts of arson homicide. He killed his stepsons, ages 7 and 8, during a fire that burned down the Waldo Mill in September 1990.
Michael Menzer, shown in this 1990 mugshot, was a suspect

Michael Menzer, shown in this 1990 mugshot, was a suspect in the disappearance of Bobby Joe Fritz. Menzer died in 2008 while serving a prison sentence. (Photo: Courtesy of the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office)

In October 1990, authorities dug up Menzer's property in hopes of finding Bobby Joe's skeleton. Instead, they recovered four small bones and remnants of decayed children's clothes buried around the property.

At the time, DNA technology was in its infancy, and it remained unclear if the bones came from the missing child or if the clothes belonged to Bobby Joe.

Several weeks ago, Sheboygan County Sheriff's Detective Corey Norlander submitted the bones for advanced DNA testing at the FBI's laboratories.

RELATED: What ever happened to Bobby Joe Fritz?

RELATED: Bobby Joe Fritz, Jacob Wetterling cases share tragic bond

RELATED: Who are they? Wisconsin's missing children

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Learning the negative results doesn't make life any easier for Bobby Joe's family.

"I was extremely relieved that it wasn't Bobby Joe, but that just means still no closure for our family," said Lora Engel, his older sister, who lives in Michigan.

Bobby Joe disappeared while playing outside on a Saturday afternoon in May 1983, a couple of blocks from his mother's home along Highway 67. The prevailing theory is that he was abducted by a stranger and killed. He was three months shy of turning 6 when he vanished.

Risseeuw said he was not surprised the buried bones turned out to be from an animal. At the time of their 1990 discovery, investigative reports reflect, a state archaeologist, "could not tell if it was animal or human, but stated ... it appeared to be that of a juvenile."

"This has occurred before," Risseeuw said. "We've had situations around Sheboygan County where people are building a house or digging a foundation, and we've gone ahead and checked it out, and it turned out to be cattle bones."

Despite the setback, Sheboygan County is still awaiting DNA test results on the decayed and soiled children's clothes. Those clues were discovered under a section of re-poured concrete inside Menzer's basement in October 1990.

Several months ago, Pennsylvania detective Kenneth Mains, founder of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, agreed to retest the decayed clothes at no cost to Sheboygan County. Mains has access to a police laboratory with revolutionary DNA testing equipment.

"The clothing, I'm really, really interested in that," Risseeuw said recently. "Whether we will find DNA on the clothing, it's still an unknown."
In October 1990, this blue shirt belonging to a small

In October 1990, this blue shirt belonging to a small child was discovered buried under a section of re-poured concrete in the basement of pedophile Michael Menzer of Waldo. At the time Bobby Joe Fritz vanished in 1983, he wore a dark blue sweatshirt with a hood. (Photo: Courtesy of the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office)

Wisconsin investigators made several attempts dating back to 1984 to interview Menzer about Bobby Joe's disappearance, but he refused. During a 1984 raid at Menzer's Waldo Mill, authorities found several newspaper articles pertaining to Bobby Joe's disappearance.

Mains told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin last week that the clothing is being analyzed.

"To the family of Bobby Joe Fritz I would like to say, do not ever give up hope," Mains added. "There are people who care about your plight and are dedicated to help solving the unsolved. Stay positive, and if I can personally help you in any way, please let me know."

Risseeuw said his agency would consider conducting other searches for Bobby Joe's remains if strong, credible information surfaced regarding a suspected burial site.

"Right now," Risseeuw said, "we just don't have that additional lead."

Engel, Bobby Joe's sister, said she has "no idea where else they could look,"

"I will just keep praying that our family can get some closure on what happened to Bobby Joe."



Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2012
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It appears that the DNA test results from a small blue shirt found on Michael Lender's property in 1984 were inconclusive and did not yield any results. There is additional clothing that was found buried on the property that has not yet been tested, so let's hope that can be done and maybe lead LE to find his remains for his family. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved to help bring Bobby Joe home.


Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2012
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It appears that the DNA test results from a small blue shirt found on Michael Lender's property in 1984 were inconclusive and did not yield any results. There is additional clothing that was found buried on the property that has not yet been tested, so let's hope that can be done and maybe lead LE to find his remains for his family. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved to help bring Bobby Joe home.

I meant Michael Menzer who is a person of interest..not sure why it auto changed it to Lender


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Oct 5, 2019
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Bumping up for Bobby Joe.
I'm sorry about what happened to him - and also to the stepsons of the POI - all those years ago. Very tragic losses.


Active Member
Jan 21, 2018
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Although Menzer was a person of interest, another potential suspect could have been Vernon Seitz of Milwaukee, only about a 50 minute drive away. When Seitz had died at the age of 62 in 2009, he was found to have a huge collection of child *advertiser censored*. Seitz, having been suspected of as he was reportedly in the area at the time, perhaps on a Canadian holiday, was suspected of having abducted 4-year-old Michael Dunahee of Victoria, British Columbia, who vanished in 1991. Seitz's home also contained Dunahee's missing child poster. Bobby Joe Fritz and Michael Dunahee resembled one another greatly. Could Fritz have been an early victim of Seitz? Seitz would have been 26 years old at the time, so it could have been possible.