Lisa Cihaski Murder: Where is Lori Esker Now?

Image Credit: Nik the Booksmith/YouTube

Lisa Cihaski was enjoying a positive phase in her life, having reconnected with her boyfriend and anticipating their engagement and future together. However, her dreams were abruptly shattered in September 1989 when she was discovered deceased in her car. The vehicle was parked outside the Howard Johnson Hotel in Wisconsin, where she was employed. Discovery+’s ‘Mean Girl Murders’ episode named ‘Queen vs. Princess’ delves into the circumstances surrounding her suspicious death and investigates the potential motives of the perpetrator responsible for it.

Lisa Cihaski was Found Dead in a Parked Car

Lisa Anne Cihaski came into this world on October 25, 1967, bringing joy to Vilas and Shirley Cihaski in Shawano County, Wisconsin. Known for her gentle demeanor, she was a quiet child who demonstrated a keen sensitivity to the needs of others. She shared a close bond with both her parents as well as her sister and brother. Growing up on her father’s ginseng farm, she enjoyed a comfortable upbringing with no shortage of resources in the household.

Image Credit: Find a Grave

Lisa’s independent spirit shone through from a young age. Following her graduation from Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, where she was crowned homecoming queen, she embarked on her professional journey. Eager to carve her path and earn her income, she secured a position as an assistant sales and catering manager at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Rib Mountain. As for her personal life, she found companionship with Bill Buss, a prominent dairy farmer known for the exceptional productivity of his herd, whom she had met during her school days.

After dating for three years, Lisa and Bill had parted ways due to differences. However, after spending a year and a half apart, they rekindled their relationship in June 1989, with him planning to propose to her on her birthday in October. The couple was eager to start a new chapter together. But alas, their plans were cut short on the morning of September 21, 1989, when she failed to return home. Concerned, her mother went searching for her and discovered her car parked at her workplace. Upon closer inspection, she found her daughter’s lifeless body inside. Authorities were immediately alerted, and it was determined that Lisa had been strangled to death.

Lisa Cihaski’s Killer Confessed to the Crime

The police began asking questions to everyone close to Lisa Cihaski to get some answers. When they started talking to her friends from school and otherwise there was a single name that kept coming up which was that of Lori Esker. Lori had grown up on a dairy farm east of Wausau and was given the title of Dairy Princess in 1989 by Marathon County. The friends explained that when Bill Buss had broken up with Lisa, he had started dating Lori who was the president of the student council in school.

Bill and Lori’s relationship lasted around a year and a half before they parted ways when Bill rekindled his romance with Lisa. Lori harbored resentment towards Lisa, holding her responsible for the breakup, and often vented her anger to friends. She confronted Lisa on multiple occasions, causing Lisa to confide in her family and friends about her fear of Lori. Despite the tension, Lisa expressed a hope that Lori would move on, allowing them to reconcile and potentially become friends to alleviate the hostility between them.

During police questioning, Lori confessed to her involvement in Lisa’s death. She recounted waiting for Lisa in the Howard Johnson Hotel parking lot on the night of September 20, 1989, intending to confront her. When Lisa emerged, they engaged in a conversation inside Lisa’s car, during which Lori falsely told that she was pregnant with Bill’s child. The conversation escalated into an argument, and Lori claimed that it turned violent. In an act of self-defense, she admitted to grabbing a belt from the back seat and using it to strangle Lisa.

In her confession, Lori revealed that after Lisa stopped moving, she wasn’t sure if she was dead. To confirm, she took a mirror from her purse and held it to Lisa’s face to check for signs of breathing. Upon realizing that Lisa was not alive, she panicked, feeling remorseful for the extent of harm inflicted. Lori then exited the car, taking the belt and a ring that Lisa was wearing. She disposed of the belt by throwing it into the incinerator chute at her dormitory and discarded the ring into a trash can at a convenience store.

Lori Esker is Out on Parole Today

Lori Esker faced first-degree murder charges during her trial, with prosecutors disputing her claim of self-defense, citing the prolonged nature of the strangulation. In 1990, a jury found her guilty of the charge, resulting in a life sentence with the possibility of parole after serving 13 years and nine months. Soon after her sentencing, her defense team appealed based on her admission to the police being involuntary but it was denied. While serving her sentence at the Robert Ellsworth Correctional Center in Union Grove, her parole hearing was scheduled for release in February 2018, although the date was later postponed.

In August 2018, Lori Esker’s parole hearing was postponed again, and she was eventually released on parole in July 2019, the same year that she turned 50. However, her return to the community stirred apprehension among residents due to the extensive media coverage of the case over the years. Since her release, Lori has maintained a low profile, avoiding public appearances and refraining from making any statements. She appears to have chosen a quiet and peaceful life.

Read More: Jonathan Lestelle Murder: Where is William Keck Now?