This article was last modified on September 23, 2019.


The Slaying of David Curtis Alt (1943-1984)

David Curtis Alt was born September 17, 1943. He may have been born in Dubuque, Iowa, though it seems more likely he was born near Lancaster, southwest Wisconsin, where he grew up. Alt’s father William Curtis Alt died in 1948 at age 30 when David was only 4; his mother Ivanelle Kraut soon remarried to Richard Smith.

On June 6, 1964, David Alt married Eunice Wyleen Hoffman at the Lancaster Congregational Church. At the time of the wedding, Alt had completed three years at Platteville State College and was planning to enroll at UW-Madison Medical School in the fall. David does not seem to have become a doctor, but two of his siblings (Stephen and Cheryl) did.

On May 15, 1979, Alt incorporated Creative Food Service.

February 1981: Goldfarb’s Deli opens at the Bay Shore Mall in Glendale.

June 30, 1984: Goldfarb’s Deli in Glendale (at the bay Shore Mall) closed due to financial difficulties. Records showed that co-owners David Curtis Alt and John Stewart owed at least $17,000 in back taxes, as well as other debts.

July 18, 1984: David Alt does not return home from work. His wife Wyleen gets worried about 7:30pm, as he would generally call by that time if he was going to be delayed. He also did not return calls left to his beeper. Looking for him at the mall, Wyleen found his Cadillac and left a note on it, but soon after this the car disappeared.

July 20, 1984: Wyleen Alt files a missing persons report on her husband, David Alt. Police suspect he possibly ran away, but Wyleen says she knows him better than that.

On July 30, 1984, David Alt’s body was found by Madison police when Holiday Inn (6301 East Broadway) employees complained that a Cadillac had been in their parking lot for a while and was starting to have a “disgusting” odor. The car, belonging to Alt, was backed against a tree, and when the police popped open the trunk, they found his partially decomposed body rotting in the summer sun. The corpse was so decomposed, the police were not even sure at first whether the body was male or female and dental records had to be consulted.

Strangely, Alt’s car had his correct license plate on the back (partially obscured by a tree), but on the front a different plate was affixed. This traced to a Cadillac owned by the Hertz rental company at the Mitchell Airport. Did the killers take a detour from Milwaukee to Madison, stopping at the airport to steal a license plate? It was already strange that they drove over an hour to hide the car and body.

An autopsy revealed the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head. They were unable to narrow down what sort of gun was used other than to say it was a “small caliber”. Apparently the bullet was not found or had shattered. Sheriff Jerome Lacke told the press, “We suspect he may have been there two weeks.”

Few clues presented themselves, and speculation mounted that the murder was somehow connected to Alt’s massive business debt. Among other things, he owed $17,000 in state taxes. “I am shocked that he would have gotten into a position where he would have ended up like this,” business associate Michael Koehn told the press on August 2.

Roughly 200 people attended Alt’s funeral on August 5. Friends told the newspaper that they were starting a trust fund for David’s three children. Police told the media that not one suspect had emerged.

In January 1985, authorities started a John Doe investigation to gather new clues after the last several months had been fruitless. One person called to testify on January 22 was Lynne Stewart, the wife of Alt’s business partner. She initially refused to testify, citing her 5th Amendment rights. After being granted immunity, she was forced to talk. (John Doe testimony is secret.)

Alt’s daughter, Jennifer Renee, age 14, passed away on April 5, 1986. (There are rumors this death was a suicide, but I don’t know anything about that.)

As of 2019, more than 30 years later, the case remains unsolved.

Also try another article under Organized Crime
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

3 Responses to “The Slaying of David Curtis Alt (1943-1984)”

  1. Drew Hunkins Says:

    There’s no doubt this was some sort of organized crime hit. It totally has the ring to it. The only people who truly know the ‘why’ and ‘what’ involving this homicide are the boss of the crew responsible (the rest of the crew likely knew little to nothing), the trigger man the boss trusted enough to give the job to, and the guy rotting in the trunk.

    At the time the whole Goldfarb business was going down the Balistrieri family was bouncing in and out of federal court, so I doubt it was anyone in their crew, though I could be wrong. It could possibly lead to elements of the Chicago Outfit in some way. Perhaps the deli was a laundry operation of some sort.

    The East Broadway hotel location in Madison is just off the beltline freeway on the southeastern side of the city, so the crew seemed to want to get in and out of that hotel parking lot as soon as possible and get the heck out of the Madison area as soon as they could.

  2. Gene Says:

    I’m glad you mentioned this incident in your history of organized crime. My father knew the Alts and of David’s financial problems. One bit that was left out of media coverage was that when they found the body, Alt’s pockets were turned inside out. Also, they had a daughter, Jenna, who was found hanged in their basement a year or two later. It was ruled a suicide, but her friends and some family thought the death was accidental.

  3. gavin Says:

    As you can tell, I know almost nothing about this case. So I have to thank you for commenting… it gives me motivation to dig a little deeper!

Leave a Reply