On June 13, 1963, Wayne Pratt, 24, was the victim of a vicious attack in which he was stabbed 53 times. 12 of the stabs punctured his lungs, and both collapsed. Some of the stabs were four inches deep. The autopsy suggested instead that Pratt may have been hit in the head with a snow shovel. He was found face-down on the floor and partially covered with a blanket in the storage room of the gas station he owned and operated.
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department have said that they have a suspect in mind, but not enough evidence to charge the person (or people) responsible. They’re continuing to look for assistance from the public to collect additional evidence/information.
Related Murder & Mayhem Podcast Episode
See also: Podcast Website
Wayne Clarence Pratt was born on September 1, 1939 in Berlin, WI to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Pratt. Wayne married the former Marie Web on May 28, 1960, and had one son, Mark, born in 1961. Starting in 1960, he owned and operated Pratt’s Enco Service Station on Rt. 1 in Oshkosh (along old Highway 41, between Neenah and Oshkosh, just north of US 45).
June 13, 1963: Wayne Pratt Murdered
On the evening of June 13, 1963, Wayne Pratt, 24, was at home watching television when a white car pulled up to the gas station he operated. Another car (a two-toned blue Buick) pulled in and parked on the other side of the pumps. Pratt walked from his house to the station — a distance of roughly 50-100 feet.
Within minutes of the white car pulling in, Wayne Pratt was dead. He was the victim of a vicious attack in which he was stabbed 53 times in the back and left side. 12 of the stabs punctured his lungs, and both collapsed. Some of the stabs were four inches deep. There was also a laceration on his head, but the coroner believed this came after the stabbing rather than Pratt being knocked out. The autopsy suggested instead that Pratt may have been hit in the head with a snow shovel.
Pratt’s wife, Marie, went over to the gas station after noticing that the yard lights hadn’t been turned on. Pratt was found face-down on the floor in the storage room of the gas station and was partially covered with a blanket, the kind used to move furniture. A battery charger and stack of tires had been knocked over. Marie reported that the front room of the station did not appear to be disturbed.
The motive was initially believed to be robbery – the register usually contained $200, but only had $2 in change. A note by the register indicated 243 gallons of gas had been sold that day. Police later lowered the amount of money stolen to $60.
Two officers were assigned to the case full time. As part of their investigation, the police removed the station door and tested it for prints. Anyone who had been there that day were asked to come in and get their prints eliminated.
A month after the murder, leads had been tracked as far away as Los Angeles with no success. A string of gas station murders had happened in Michigan; one man in Detroit was arrested and even had a newspaper clipping of the Pratt murder in his possession, but was ruled out.
By the end of 1964, at least 75 people were questioned and 25 of those were given lie detector tests. No arrests were made.
Wayne Pratt’s body was exhumed in late July 2015 from the Oak Hill Cemetery in Neenah, and a second autopsy was performed. DNA samples were taken during that process. Due to the degradation of the DNA, results were inconclusive.
Detective Lt. Chris Braman of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department said that “There’s one person who is the main focus” of the murder investigation, and that are strong indications that Pratt knew his assailant. An arrest has not been made because there isn’t enough evidence to charge the person responsible.