Kelly Nolan Murder: 5 Years Later

Published: Sep. 17, 2007 at 11:14 AM CDT
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UPDATED Thursday, June 21, 2012 --- 6:42 p.m.

Thursday, June 21, 2012--5p.m.

MADISON--It's been nearly five years since 22-year-old Kelly Nolan's body was found and her death labeled a homicide. However, police are still not saying how she died. "Those pieces of information are vitally important to trying to really find this person that was responsible," said Howard Payne, public information officer for the Madison Police Department. "It's our belief that if that information were to get out it could compromise the investigation."

Despite the nearly half decade passage of time, Payne insists this is not a cold case. He said the search continues for the person--or persons--responsible for her death. "This investigation is actively moving, is actively progressing," he said. "The detectives that are assigned to the case are doing work on it on a daily basis."

The U-W Whitewater student was last seen on June 23rd, 2007 after spending a night in downtown Madison. "Had been out and about in the Madison area on the night with individuals that she did know," said Payne.

Payne said police are still actively working this case--in fact they recently added another detective to help with the massive amounts of evidence and documents. And they're asking anyone that may know anything about what happened to Nolan--no matter how insignificant it may seem-- to report it to law enforcement. "We really believe that there are people out there that know information that have not stepped forward, that have not made that effort to contact us to give us information."


UPDATED Friday, July 9, 2010 --- 9:20 a.m.

From the Madison Police Department:

New Reward Fund Established By Nolan Family

The body of Kelly Nolan, age 22, was found in a wooded area in the Town of Dunn three years ago on July 9, 2007. The Madison Police Department (MPD) remains committed to bringing the person/persons responsible for Kelly's death to justice, and full-time detective resources remain committed to her case. During the past year, investigators conducted numerous interviews and continued their on-going evidentiary probe.

The MPD is also fully supporting the Nolan family's efforts to restore a significant private reward fund. The original fund of $13,000 has been reduced to $1,000 in large part due to the nation's economic woes. For instance, The Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation ( ) was forced to withdraw a $5,000 contribution. Details are on the foundation's website.

The new "Kelly Nolan Fund" has been established at the Summit Credit Union ( ) in Waunakee.

Donations can be sent to:

"Kelly Nolan Fund"

Summit Credit Union

304 E. Main St.

Waunakee, WI


Contributions can also be made at any Summit Credit Union branch.

In addition to the private fund, there continues to be up to a $1,000 reward available through Madison Area Crime Stoppers ( ). Callers can remain anonymous. The tip line is 608-266-6014.

Detectives believe there are people in the area who have information on Kelly's death who have not yet come forward.

They are asking people for the following information:

• If you were in personal contact with Kelly Nolan during the fall of 2006 to June 2007 in Madison, Whitewater or another location, and have not previously been contacted by the Madison Police Department you are asked to call 608-266-4946 or e-mail and leave your contact information and a brief description of your contact with Kelly during that time frame.

• If you previously provided tip information to the Madison Police Department concerning the Nolan case and requested follow-up contact from the Department but were not contacted, please call 608-266-4946 or e-mail and leave your contact information and a brief description of the original information you provided.

• If you have information concerning the Nolan case but did not provide it to police during the initial investigation you may still do so and are encouraged to call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. Callers are also encouraged to identify themselves, but may remain anonymous if they so wish.

A taped statement from Kelly's sister, April Nolan, regarding the private reward fund is being disseminated to local media. The Nolan family respectfully asks that media do not contact them regarding Kelly's case. Questions can be directed to Madison Police Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain at 608-266-4897.

*Terms and conditions of the private reward fund are established by the account holder and their representatives and any dissemination of private reward fund money will be determined by the account holder and their representatives.


UPDATED Wednesday, June 23, 2010 --- 3:45 p.m.

Today marks three years since UW-Whitewater student Kelly Nolan disappeared in downtown Madison. Her body was found about two weeks later in a rural area outside Oregon, and police determined she was murdered.

Madison Police say they still consider this an active investigation, and have two full-time detectives working the case. During the last year, those detectives have conducted numerous interviews, and are approaching the evidence from new angles to uncover any fresh details.

Today they are using the anniversary of Nolan's disappearance to reach out to the public.

Madison Police are asking anyone who had contact with Kelly Nolan between the Fall of 2006 through June of 2007 to contact the lead detective on the case.

He can be reached at 608-266-4946, or emailed at

Also, police say they have interviewed a lot of people in the last three years. Many of those individuals offered tips in the past and requested follow-up by police. Today Madison detectives are asking that anyone who may not have received that follow-up contact to call the lead detective.

Police also believe there may be people who have valuable information in this case, but who have not contacted police. Public Information Officer Howard Payne said today "Sometimes small details can make a big difference." Payne says people with information can call the detectives directly, or can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. Anyone with information may be eligible for a reward.


UPDATED Tuesday, June 23, 2009 -- 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday marks two years since the disappearance of Kelly Nolan. The 22-year-old's body was found roughly two weeks later - but what happened to her, and who's responsible, remains a mystery.

The mystery of what happened to 22-year-old Kelly Nolan began with a mother's plea two years ago.

Nolan, a UW Whitewater communications major who was working in Madison the summer of 2007, was last seen the early morning hours of Saturday, June 23rd.

"They all left... she stayed in the downtown area. She was by herself... beyond that, no one really knows who she was with where she all went," April Nolan, Kelly's sister, said back in June of 2007.

Nolan talked to her sister April late Friday night, but what was said during the phone call has never been revealed.

Initially, police had no reason to suspect foul play in the Waunakee woman's disappearance. Investigators released a description of what Nolan was wearing and of a hand bag, similar to hers. Police focused their efforts in tracking leads - downtown - where Nolan was hanging out with friends in the State Street area the evening she vanished.

Mary Jane Nolan, Kelly's mother, appeared before the media 10 days after her daughter's disappearance, appearing optimistic and announcing a reward in the case. But in less than a week, Monday, July 9th around 8:45 in the morning, a body was discovered in a wooded area near Schneider Drive in the Town of Dunn.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said cell phone technology narrowed their search to the area where they found Nolan's body. The next day, the coroner positively identified the body as Nolan's but on-scene investigation would take yet another day. After the discovery, tips poured in to police... but two months later...

"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about our sister... "

Nolan's family braved cameras in hopes of generating fresh leads ... with posters placed around campus.

"We've literally talked to hundreds of people... "

A year later, police had contacted nearly 600 people, followed up roughly 200 tips, compiled 12-hundred pages of reports. Still, the case remained unsolved as it does today.

"We have full faith MPD will bring justice where justice is needed. We just ask that the public please come forward and bring any information that may help us answer any questions," Candice Nolan, Kelly's sister, said.

No suspect in Nolan's murder has ever been identified at least publicly by police.

Madison Police say the investigation is active with detectives pursuing leads full time. There's also a 12-thousand dollar reward in the case. Anyone with information should call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 266-6014.


UPDATED Monday, January 21, 2008 --- 11:30am

Authorities are not saying much about student's death

TOWN OF DUNN, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities still aren't saying much about their investigation into the death of a 22-year-old University of Wisconsin-Whitewater student in Madison area last summer.

Madison Police and Dane County Coroner John Stanley still aren't saying how or when Kelly Nolan died, or whether her death is believed to have been an intentional act or resulted from someone else 's recklessness or negligence.

She disappeared early June 23rd after a night of bar-hopping with friends in downtown Madison. Her decomposing body was found more than two weeks later in a ditch about ten miles south of the city in the town of Dunn.

Stanley and Madison Police Captain Mary Schauf defend the official silence surrounding the case. They say divulging information beyond what was released in the days following Nolan's disappearance could jeopardize their investigation, which Schauf stressed remains active.

Schauf says three detectives are continuing to pursue leads from among a "mountain" of tips they've received.



Posted September 17, 2007 --- 11:15 a.m.

Kelly Nolan's two sisters joined police Monday to make a plea for additional tips in the nearly three-month-old murder case of the UW-Whitewater student.

Police have not yet identified a suspect, but they're confident whoever is responsible has ties to the community.

"We wish to locate anyone who was in the State Street area Friday night, June 22nd, into the early morning hours of June 23rd, who may have seen Kelly alone or with any other persons, male or female. We believe there are other persons in the community who know what happened to Kelly who have not yet contacted the police," April Nolan says.

The public has heard little from April and Candice Nolan since the body of their sister, Kelly Nolan, was found in a wooded area north of Oregon in July. But Monday, a plea for new tips into the last known whereabouts of the 22-year-old UW-Whitewater student.

"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about our sister. We ask you to please find it in your hearts if anybody knows anything that may help us answer questions as to what happened to our sister Kelly Nolan around the early morning hours of Saturday June 23rd to please come forward and call the crime stoppers number," Candice Nolan says.

Police say the case continues to generate tips, but they're hopeful posters placed around campus will lead to new information.

"We've literally talked to hundreds of people, but we still think there are some out there we have not found yet and that may have been with Kelly after all of those already contacted and there may be some with Kelly before the suspect was with Kelly, that we've not found yet," Joel DeSpain with Madison Police says.

Police especially want to reach returning UW students, who may never have learned a young woman reported missing before they left campus was later found dead.

"This could be men or women ... there also could've been other women that would've seen her, talked with her," DeSpain says.

"Lastly, we would like to say that we have full faith Madison police will bring justice where justice is needed. We just ask that the public please come forward and bring any information that may help us answer any questions," Candice says.

The sisters took no questions. Police say a team of detectives is still working this case full time. And, the reward in this case has grown from $10,000 to $12,000.