Friday, June 16, 2017

Ozarks First KOLR 10 News Article: False Leads - June 2, 2017 | 3 of 9



A Quarter Century of Questions: A Number of False Leads


By: Melanie Chapman

Posted: Jun 02, 2017 10:21 PM CDT | Updated: Jun 02, 2017 11:30 PM CDT

A Quarter Century of Questions...

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It was a case that shocked the community, three women go missing nearly 25 years ago.

Dozens of investigators, hundreds of tip calls, even some from around the world.

This week, we've been reexamining the case of Springfield's missing women as we lead up to the June 7th "missing date."

Reporter Melanie Chapman discusses the false leads that made this crime so confounding. 

What happened to these three missing Springfield women? Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter (SP) and Sherrill Levitt. It’s a case that received national attention.

A mystery, that even decades later people are still talking about.

Former Prosecuting Attorney Darrell Moore says, "Everybody on this case wanted it resolved."

Moore was one of dozens of investigators who spent days, sleepless nights and hundreds of hours trying to solve this case. Today he still has hope the answer, so many have worked and prayed for, will come.

"Through the years there have been various leads but it got to the point where even today I still get calls from people." Moore said.

Moore acknowledges, it has been frustrating. There wasn't one rock they didn't overturn. They had to take every tip seriously. Many leads, none were solid.

Moore says, "There was a dig up over in Webster Co. because there was a rumor they had been taken by a certain person. Abused, chopped up and spread a creek or spread in a cave there were searches over there."

Early on, there were tips about a green van. This is a vehicle that was seen in the area of 1717 East Delmar in Springfield.

Police received a tip from a woman who claims she saw a van, being driven by who she thought was Suzie Streeter the morning of the disappearance. Yelling at the driver telling her to get out of there. Police searched thousands of vans, they posted the model all over the media. Even painted one green and kept it outside the police department. Tips about the van and the missing women kept flooding in.

"I was appointed special prosecutor in Barry co because of a lead by the Highway Patrol we had received and there was a dig down there on a property but at the time it seemed promising. It seemed to fit certain facts that we thought we knew at the time."  Moore said.

That fateful night, Stacy and Suzie graduated. They went to numerous parties and Stacy ended up spending the night at Suzie's home. The next morning Stacy's family went to the house after not hearing from their daughter. They found the girl's purses and no sign of a struggle. The pet dog was the only sign of life in the house.

Retired Springfield Police Sergeant David Asher says, "I just felt like when we were given the case, when we actually got it late, we didn't start from the very beginning."

Asher was one of the lead investigators. He worked alongside Ron Worsham also with Springfield Police.

Worsham says, "Well we looked at her brother cause there had been some problems there they were I don't know if it was true or false."

Worsham is talking about Bartt (SP) Streeter, Suzie's Brother. His alibi at the time of the disappearance apparently checked out. Then there was a tip that the women were buried under the south parking lot of Cox Hospital. It was under construction soon after the disappearance. A theory, Moore says with no credible evidence.

That was bulldozed to prepare the parking garage for the cement that's at the bottom of the garage. Well part of the debris left out there is remains of trees and stumps and so we were told the anomalies out there were not bodies out but were probably debris. 

Then there's Robert Craig Cox. A man released from a Florida prison on a trial technicality. He had been convicted of killing a woman in Florida but was free and in Springfield at the time the women disappeared.

Moore says, "He stirred up a lot of interest and there was some concern that he may have been playing people so he could get transported back here and get out of prison for a bit."

Dustin Reckla was a former acquaintance of Suzie (SP) Streeter. She was about to testify against him on charges he broke into a mausoleum to steal gold from the deceased.  Police were very interested in Reckla and two accomplices but hope there quickly faded.

Worsham says, "If you can clear those three people who were persons of interest, we were kind of left with no suspects"

While many of the leads turned up false they still hold out hope the right tip could be developed even 25 years later.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ozarks First KOLR 10 News Article: Detectives - June 1, 2017 | 2 of 9

Link: http://www.ozarksfirst.com/news/a-quarter-century-of-questions-detectives-consumed-by-the-3-missing-women/729381818

A Quarter Century of Questions: Detectives Consumed by the 3 Missing Women


By: Grant Sloan  

Posted: Jun 01, 2017 10:04 PM CDT | Updated: Jun 01, 2017 10:04 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The case of the three missing women not only captured the attention of community members, it consumed many of the men and women working the case.

Even 25 years later, some of them still think about the women daily.

We sat down with men who were on the ground from the beginning and one officer who picked up the torch ten years into the investigation.

"I wish we had solved that case back then, but I pray daily that this case is solved before I leave this world. I won't have to get up to glory to see the girls to see what happened," Retired Sgt. David Asher with the Springfield Police Department said.

Asher helped lead the investigation into the disappearance of Sherrill Levitt, her daughter, Suzie Streeter and Streeter's friend, Stacy McCall (SP.).

Just days into their disappearance, Asher's team was tasked with finding answers many detectives are still searching for today.

"My team and I worked days and nights and many many hours. We were overwhelmed, we were confronted with issues we had never been confronted with before," Asher said.

Some of those challenges are well known.

Among them, one of the most important pieces of any case, the condition of the crime scene.

In the hours leading up to police being contacted, family members and friends were inside the home trying to make sense of the situation.

"I'm not blaming anybody. A family is concerned is going to do everything they can do," Asher said.

"Anytime you walk into a crime scene, you take something in. Anytime you leave the crime scene you take something out," Ron Worsham said.

Worsham was the assistant police chief in 1992.

He says early on the department threw everyone and everything at the case.

In those days DNA evidence wasn't used, but detectives did use a fumigating technique to pull fingerprints from the home.

"And of course, we had thousands of prints at that point and time...we didn't have the automatic print system at that time. So really the only way prints did you any good back then is if you had a suspect to compare them too," Worsham said.

There were also thousands of tips that poured in from the community.

"Every tip that came in, you couldn't afford not to check it out. Because any tip could have been credible," Worsham said.

Investigators went to great, and at times, unconventional lengths following some of those leads.

A person was called in who claimed to be able to communicate with the dog that was left behind.

A woman who provided information about a green van seen in the area was hypnotized.

Investigators managed to track a phone call from the show America's Most Wanted to a store in Louisiana.

"That person actually fit the description of some of the information we had that could of been involved in the abduction. That person was going to call back and never did."

Going to the public for help may have been a doubled-edged sword though, as many of those interviewed by police were aware of the latest information.

"It just gets a lot out there to where detectives might be hindered in their attempts to solve it or follow up on leads property," Greg Higdon of the SPD said.

Springfield Police Captain Higdon brought a fresh set of eyes to the case in 2001.

"It's very intimidating, I mean there were at that time 5,000 plus leads, going in a variety of different directions," Higdon said.

Higdon re-interviewed family members and friends and combed through evidence.

Before his promotion in 2006, he had filed more than 400 new reports on the case.

"There were some that came in that were good leads, other leads were maybe not a lot of information: Maybe a sighting or, 'I think this person did it' or that person, but not much to go on," Higdon said.

"I think we did everything we probably could, but you never know what you might have missed. That's always in the back of your mind," Worsham said.

Worsham says in later years as sheriff of Webster County he still followed leads on the missing women.

And, even in his retirement, as he hears of other missing persons cases, many of the memories come back.

"I think about this case every day, today. Back in June the 7th, 1992 is when it started," Asher said.

Each investigator has their own theories, only parts of which they are willing to share.

"I firmly believe one of them was being stalked for sometime before the crime was ever committed," Worsham said.

"I personally believe we have talked to that person or persons responsible," Asher said.

While the answers are still unknown, the investigators agree someone out there has the missing pieces.

"I will tell ya, that every person on the department when I was there, I retired in 95, will be thrilled, and everyone involved in this case since then will be ecstatic, that it would be resolved," Asher said.

As we continue this in-depth look at the case leading up to June 7, we will spend time Friday night examining the numerous false leads that frustrated investigators.

Ozarks First KOLR 10 News Article: 3 Missing Women - May 31, 2017 | 1 of 9


A Quarter Century of Questions: The Disappearance of the 3 Missing Women


By: David Oliver 


Posted: May 31, 2017 10:07 PM CDT Updated: May 31, 2017 10:20 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD,Mo. -- Twenty-five years ago a missing persons case would unravel in Springfield that remains a mystery, prompting a quarter century of questions.

It was June 7, 1992, when Stacy McCall, Sherrill Levitt and Suzie Streeter would vanish without a trace. The three missing women case has perplexed people for years.  It's perhaps Springfield's coldest case.

We're going to revisit many aspects of this story over the next several nights as we hit the quarter century mark of the women's disappearance.  Up first, a look back at what happened that night through the memories of a mother.

"Stacy this is your mom.  Please call me at home. Bye," says Janis McCall in a 1992 phone message.

Phone messages of concern that would grow into fear on the night of June 7, 1992.  That night 18-year-old Stacy McCall and 19-year-old Suzie Streeter graduated from Kickapoo High School.

"After all the graduation stuff we went out to eat. And, then Stacy went home with us and she immediately started changing clothes and I said, wait, you can't change clothes yet, we've got pictures out back" recalls Janis McCall, Stacy's mother.

Stacy would oblige her mother's photo request, then met up with Streeter so the two could attend planned parties to celebrate graduation.  After making several stops, the girls returned to Streeter's home that she shared with her mother, Sherrill Levitt.  But from that night on, Levitt, Streeter and McCall would never be heard from again.

"We had no idea there was a crime scene there, you know that you don't expect it you're looking for your daughter and trying to find out what happened" says McCall.

Janis McCall recalls going to Levitt's home 25 years ago and finding the purses of all three women. There was no sign of a struggle, only a broken glass bulb over the front porch light. Police believe the three women went missing sometime between 2:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.

"I remember when the police department came up and two officers came in. And I explained what was going on. And I walked them through the house. So, the officers said we're going to go outside and discuss this and look around a little bit. And they looked all around the house and kind of down the street a little bit. And when they came back in they said we're going to file this as a missing persons case, foul play suspected" says McCall.

Janis McCall immediately began calling radio and tv stations to spread word about the missing women. She made posters with pleas to help bring the women home.

"I don't remember if it was that day or night that the crime scene van was pulled in front of Suzie and Sherrill's house and that yellow tape was put up saying crime scene. And not to enter," says McCall.

From that day on Janis McCall and her family were in constant contact with police, tracking down leads and fielding phone calls with tips that would most often lead nowhere.

"I remember the different calls that they would say they had seen them. They said they had seen Stacy driving a little red sports car down Battlefield. Well it wasn't Stacy it was our oldest daughter. I remember calls that said they were cut up into pieces.  I remember one that said they were fed to the hogs. You know horrifying things for a mom to hear," says McCall.

McCall went on to establish a network called One Missing Link. It aimed to help other families with a missing loved one. It's not as active today and she doesn't visit the police station as much anymore either.

But just as she's done all these years, Janis McCall still holds out hope that one day we might learn the truth about what really happened to Springfield's three missing women.

"If the police still follow every lead that comes in and follow it to ends end one of these days we are going to find out because somebody knows. The only thing my gut can say is that three women are missing. They disappeared without a trace, I have no idea where they went, who took them. You know I would absolutely love it if one of them called me" says McCall. 

Janis McCall says at one time all 32 detectives employed by the Springfield Police Department were in someway dedicated to the case of the three missing women. 

We have several reports coming up over the next several nights as we mark a quarter century of this cold case.  We'll hear from some of the original investigators, we'll look at false leads over the years, and we'll hear from journalists about what it was like to cover the case of the three missing women.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Kansas City Star Article: 25 Years - June 7, 2017




June 07, 2017 7:00 AM

25 years and no trace of 3 Missouri women: ‘People aren’t supposed to just disappear’

By Max Londberg | jlondberg@kcstar.com

And Laura Bauer | lbauer@kcstar.com

Springfield

In the entryway of a southside bar hangs a tattered missing persons flyer, preserved in its torn and yellowed state by laminate.

Back in the summer of 1992, this flyer was one of thousands that blanketed the Ozarks. They hung in barbershops and grocery stores, gas stations and rest areas, any place where people could see them. Many were a bright yellow then with the word “Missing,” and they implored everyone to help bring home Sherrill Levitt, her daughter Suzie Streeter and friend Stacy McCall.

Today, on what marks a quarter century since the Springfield women disappeared, this flyer inside Coyote’s Adobe Cafe & Bar is one of the few that remain, its faded print proof that this southwest Missouri city hasn’t forgotten.

And Stacy’s mother says she can feel it.

“There are still so many people who know about it,” Janis McCall told The Star. “They come up to me, they talk about them. And it makes me feel good when I know people are still caring.”

It was June 7, 1992, when the three women vanished. The three haven’t been heard from since that day when friends showed up at Levitt’s home on East Delmar Street and found a broken porch light. Little else seemed out of place.

All three of the women’s cars were parked out front. Their purses and keys were inside the small white home. A smoker, Sherrill, 47, had left her cigarettes behind. And Stacy, 18, who battled migraines, hadn’t taken along her medication.

The young women, friends who had graduated from Kickapoo High School the day before, had already gotten ready for bed. Then they, along with Levitt, just disappeared.

A lack of evidence or any real sign of foul play has frustrated a long line of detectives who have taken their turn at trying to solve the mystery.

“How do you wrap your head around three people literally disappearing? With no idea where they went?” said Sgt. Todd King, who started at the police department in 1994 and remembers as a rookie taking reports from people who had information they thought would be helpful. “In a lot of cold cases, you can look back and say this is probably what occurred, you just can’t prove it. With this case, it’s anything goes. Anything could have happened.

“You don’t have anything that says they were abducted, they were harmed. … It’s this big mystery.”

A bench in the Victims Memorial Garden at Phelps Grove Park is dedicated to the three missing women. The women’s names and the date of their disappearance are etched in its surface.

The sergeant now oversees the open investigation, which is assigned to Detective Scott Hill. Hill works the case and follows up on leads as they come in. And they still do, about one or two a month. But anymore, many of them are just rehashes of what came in years ago.

The mystery, too, has worn on the community and residents who back in the 1990s lived through the anxiety and months of constant headlines and newscasts about the case.

Nigel Holderby, now a 44-year-old mother living in Colorado, was Suzie’s best friend at the time of her disappearance.

“We all who love them would love to have answers, would love to know what happened, would love to have them here with us today,” Holderby said. “All over this period of time we have wondered every day and every year. It is mind-blowing to think about, something like that happening.

“People aren’t supposed to just disappear.”

That’s how David Bauer feels. He had owned Coyote’s Adobe Cafe just six months when he promised Janis McCall he wouldn’t take down the missing poster until her daughter came home.

His own daughter was just 3 years old that summer. And he couldn’t help but think then what would happen if he had lost her like McCall had lost Stacy.

“She was in such anguish,” Bauer said. “I kind of felt how she was feeling in her eyes. … It’s burnt into my soul.”

Purses left behind

Stacy’s mother can still see the image of the women’s purses in her mind. They were at the bottom of the steps leading down to Suzie’s room.

So many who lived this case, who have been haunted by it since, have something about the home or that day that replays in their mind. For some it’s the busted porch globe or the fact that the two friends had already gotten ready for bed with their makeup-smeared washcloths in the hamper.

For McCall, it’s the purses.

They were all lined up: First there was Sherrill’s, then Suzie’s and Stacy’s was next, sitting on top of Suzie’s overnight bag.

McCall remembers how things were rolling out of the purses. And inside Suzie’s room — where the TV was left on — Stacy’s flowered shorts were folded and put on top of her sandals. Stacy’s jewelry had been tucked inside the pocket of her shorts.

Looking around the house in the night hours of June 7, McCall and her husband, Stu, knew something wasn’t adding up.

The recent graduates weren’t supposed to spend the night there. They had planned to go to parties that June 6 evening and then, with others, head to Branson and stay in a hotel. The next morning they’d go to a water park.

On graduation night, Stacy called her mom at 10:30 and said she planned to stay with another friend and the group would go to Branson in the morning. But plans changed again, and Stacy decided to go home with Suzie and sleep on her new, king-sized waterbed.

Suzie led the way to Delmar Street and Stacy followed in her car.

When a friend of the two came looking for them the next afternoon to go to Branson, no one was home. The door was unlocked, and Cinnamon the family’s Yorkie yapped at the friend’s ankles.

The last known location of Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter and Sherrill Levitt is this home on East Delmar Street.

Initially, no one thought anything bad had happened, they just wondered where in the world the women had gone.

Officers weren’t called to the home until some 10 hours after friends had discovered the three were gone, King said. By then, a friend of the girls had swept up the broken glass on the porch as a favor to Levitt. And nearly a dozen people had been in the home, all walking on carpet and sitting on chairs and couches.

All of that hindered police as they began to investigate.

For months, officers searched parks and lakes, woods and subdivisions. They were told to watch for circling buzzards and to check foul-smelling trash cans. They followed up when people swore they’d seen the women at a restaurant or the airport.

“We followed leads, we followed tips — some of them that were a little extreme,” said Terry Knowles, the Springfield police chief when the women disappeared. “But we did everything we felt was needed to be done. We committed untold resources to this case.”

But many through the years have criticized Knowles for what they called his micromanaging of the case. They said he ran the investigation out of his office rather than allowing his detectives to do their jobs.

Knowles, now living out retirement in Kansas, defended his leadership and the early investigation.

“We worked as a unit, as a team at the time,” he said. “Everyone was committed to this case and we did the best we could.”

In the first days, information surfaced about an old Dodge van. One woman said she saw a young woman driving the van who looked like Suzie, her face frightened, and heard a man’s voice saying, “Don’t do anything stupid.”

At one point, police parked a similar van outside headquarters, asking for help.

Today, investigators aren’t sure if the van was actually a true clue or a distraction that was never part of the case.

“I want to say we’re kind of in the same place we were 10 years ago,” King said. “We have those persons of interest, people we can’t rule out. We’re still looking for those handful of pieces to put in the puzzle that will help us solve the case.

“It may not be while I’m here, but I do think it will be solved.”

‘It changes how you view the world’

After Suzie disappeared, Holderby, then 19, had recurring nightmares where she frantically searched for her best friend.

The two had met while working at the Town & Country movie theater in town. Holderby said their bond was immediate, the pair connecting during their very first shift together in the box office.

“You know those people you just meet and it’s like you’ve known them forever? This is how it was,” she said.

For months after the disappearance, some memory would surface from their time together, some detail Holderby hadn’t yet shared with investigators. She’d contact them, desperate to provide the clue that led to more clues, to a resolution.

“As human beings, I feel like we look at all these things and think, ‘That is the one weird thing, that’s the clue.’ We want to be helpful and share every little thing,” Holderby said.

But clues never materialized. Suzie never returned. Two years passed, and Holderby had her first child — a daughter that she named Elizabeth, Suzie’s middle name.

Another two years went by, and Holderby had a second daughter and named her Suzann, again in memory of her friend.

She later had a third daughter and raised her children in Springfield before moving to Colorado nine months ago. The vigilance with which she parented is because of Suzie, and Stacy, and Sherrill, and how they all simply vanished.

“My kids will probably say I’m crazy overprotective and overbearing. I never let them have any fun. But when you lose something like that, it changes how you view the world,” she said.

Holderby keeps two photos of Suzie, placed on a bookshelf in her dining room. One is Suzie’s senior photo, placed in front of another picture of Holderby’s three children.

The other was taken June 6, 1992, hours before the women disappeared and the last time Holderby saw Suzie and Sherrill.

“I took her a (graduation) cake, and her mom took a picture of us together,” she said.

Suzie Streeter (left) and Nigel Holderby (right) celebrated Suzie’s graduation with James Cornelison on June 6, 1972, hours before Suzie disappeared.

Others in the community may be less familiar with the case, but still it creeps into their minds on occasion.

“It kind of looms over,” said Kaitlin Baker, 24, a mother of two young children.

“I wish they would solve it. … You think about it sometimes. You’re like, ‘Wow, there were three girls — three of them and they still got taken.’”

‘They deserve to be remembered’

Before students at Springfield’s Kickapoo High headed into summer this year, their school’s magazine, KHQ Today, ran a lengthy piece about those who have simply become known as The Three Missing Women.

Student Tony Madden, who wrote the article with Magdelaine Mueller, grew up knowing about the case.

But too many students and teachers, he discovered, didn’t know what had happened in the summer of 1992. It’s why he wanted to write the story, which has been shared on social media 2,000 times.

“As so many years go by we kind of forget it’s a big deal,” said Madden, whose journalism adviser graduated with Stacy and Suzie. “I wanted the students at Kickapoo High School to know we hadn’t forgotten. … I think we forget that each is a person not just a missing person.”

It’s one reason McCall wants people to gather Wednesday night inside Springfield’s Victims Memorial Garden. She plans to have people share stories about each of the women and talk about who they were not what happened to them.

“They deserve to be remembered,” McCall said. “But let’s remember the fun things, not the dark and dreary. Let’s not remember how I felt back then, not remember that I used to get in the shower and cry.”

She plans to share a few stories about her daughter. Maybe the one where the family went out to eat the night before her graduation and instead of filling a bowl full of ice cream, she loaded it with gummy bears. Or maybe the one when she was a toddler and continued to say she was sick so she could go see the doctor she liked so much.

For years, McCall insisted she had hope that her daughter would come home. She’d be different, but she’d be home.

This year, a quarter century after she last saw her daughter, she admits that “facing reality has become more prominent.”

“It’s been 25 years and I know the chances of finding her are slim to none,” McCall said. “It’s not good to keep going on, thinking she’s going to come home every day.”

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

Laura Bauer: 816-234-4944, @kclaurab

Thursday, June 8, 2017

News-Leader Article: Janis - May 31, 2017 | 3 of 3



Mother of missing woman: Don't call it an anniversary


Giacomo Bologna , GBOLOGNA@NEWS-LEADER.COM Published 11:15 p.m. CT May 31, 2017 | Updated 11:17 p.m. CT May 31, 2017

Standing in that bedroom on June 7, 1992, Janis McCall had no way of knowing her daughter would become part of Springfield's most puzzling unsolved disappearance. 

Instead, McCall was angry.

Her daughter Stacy had just graduated from Kickapoo and was spending the night at a friend's home, but when Stacy didn't call her the next day, McCall went over to the central Springfield home.

The doors were unlocked. And inside a room were Stacy McCall's shorts, shoes and bra in a neat pile on the floor next to the bed. Nearby were her keys, her bathing suit, her purse and her make-up kit.

"I thought, 'This is absolutely stupid' — that she left her stuff here and she left her car and she didn't have any sense to call me," McCall said.

Stacy was a beautiful, vibrant girl, McCall said. She used to model wedding dresses, and her long hair reached past her waist.

Even now, when McCall sees a girl with hair that long, she has to get a glimpse of the girl's face just to see that it's not Stacy.

Why didn't she call? And why was her car still parked outside?

"Her shirt and her panties were all that she had," McCall said.

The TV in the bedroom was turned on, but only static was on the screen. 

McCall went outside to her daughter's car and realized — this doesn't make sense.

In the ensuing days, one of the largest missing-person searches ever began in southwest Missouri.

They were looking for Stacy McCall, 18, Suzanne "Suzie" Streeter, 19, and Streeter's mother, Sherrill Levitt, 47.

Janis McCall, the mother of Stacy McCall, looks at an old newspaper from the days after her daughter and two other women went missing. (Photo: Nathan Papes/News-Leader)

Stacy McCall and Streeter had left the graduation party in Battlefield together. They went to the central Springfield home of Streeter's mother, Levitt. That's the last known place the three missing women were believed to have been.

Within a week, divers from the fire department had scoured Lake Springfield, police officers on horseback had searched fields, and more than 20,000 flyers had been distributed across the area.

The day after their disappearance, a captain with the Springfield Police Department said: "We think we're heading in the right direction ... Our hopes remain high to get that one clue or that one phone call that really gives you a break in the case."

Police detectives and a former prosecutor reflect on the 25th anniversary of the Three Missing Women case. Andrew Jansen/News-Leader

Nearly 25 years have passed, and that clue or phone call still hasn't come.

McCall said she's felt as though the case was on the brink of being solved countless times, calling those feelings an "emotional roller coaster."

"You're at the lowest low and then you go up and you're at the highest high and you think 'I'm gonna have her home tonight. I'm gonna have my baby home,'" she said. "Then within a few hours or a few days, you're back to the lowest low again."

How many times has she ridden that roller coaster? "I can't even begin to tell you," McCall said. "Truly, I don't believe that they're alive; I think they're probably gone. I don't know why or when or how long they were kept alive. ... I would love to find them in white slavery somewhere or sold to a sheik over in Iraq."

Next Wednesday will be the 25th marker — not anniversary, she said — of their disappearance.

"Anniversaries are something people celebrate," she said, "and we don't celebrate when the three missing women disappeared."

The last time McCall said she saw her daughter was June 6, 1992, around 8:30 p.m.

The family had just eaten and was taking pictures outside before cutting Stacy's graduation cake, McCall said.

Stacy wanted to go to a party and then head to a water park in Branson later that night, McCall said, but McCall had a "horrible feeling" her daughter would get into an accident if they drove to Branson at night.

Stacy hugged her mom and told her she would call.

"She didn't cut her cake that night," McCall said. "She was going to cut it the next day."

Just two hours later, Stacy called. They weren't going to Branson. Instead, she would be staying the night at a friend's house and she would call her mother in the morning.

However, a little after 2 a.m., Stacy and Suzie left the party and went to Suzie's home.

"I didn't ever get that call in the morning," McCall said.

McCall would get thousands of phone calls about her daughter — tips, crank calls, cruel jokes and more — but no call from her daughter.

McCall said she still gets calls about the missing women.

"We had people call us and tell us they put them in a vat, and some people said they'd all been frozen and cut up into pieces and put into a kiln."

It has been 25 years since the disappearance of three women in Springfield, a cold case that remains under investigation. (Photo: News-Leader file photo)

Even the most unlikely tip gets forwarded on to police, McCall said.

For a while, she said, she and her husband paid an "ex-con" to search for their daughter.

"He said he could get in places that the police couldn't," McCall said. "He led us up and down the garden path and took our money."

McCall said she had even arranged through friends to have a helicopter ready in case her daughter needed to be immediately picked up somewhere.

"I had a lot of people who were willing to help us," she said. "I think people would have done anything to help us find them."

Sometimes people still recognize McCall as the mother of Stacy, McCall said, especially when she's out with one of her other two daughters. Often people tell her they're praying for her and her missing daughter, she said.

"I love the community. I love Springfield," McCall said. "The people have been friendly."

Looking back at the initial investigation, McCall said she is thankful for all the officers, sheriff's deputies, state troopers, law enforcement agents, firefighters and volunteers who helped search.

The flyer for the three missing women, Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall. (Photo: News-Leader File Photo)

However, McCall said law enforcement officials didn't always work well together.

There were weekly conferences on Wednesday afternoons where representatives from Springfield police, the Greene County Sheriff's Office, the highway patrol and more would sit around a table.

"I think sometimes they came and they didn't check their egos at the door," McCall said.

She said she still believes the organizations haven't shared all their information about the three missing women with each other.

McCall recalled how early in the investigation, the highway patrol volunteered to bring a "whole truckload of computers" down to help with the investigation, but the Springfield Police Department declined.

Computers would have been much more effective at tracking information than the 3x5-inch note cards used by police, McCall said.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

News-Leader Article: 25 Years - May 30, 2017 | 2 of 3



25 years after three Springfield women went missing, the tips still trickle in

Thomas Gounley , TGOUNLEY@NEWS-LEADER.COM 4:41 p.m. CT May 30, 2017

Janis McCall talks about her daughter Stacy, who disappeared 25 years ago along with two other women. Andrew Jansen/News-Leader

Where do tips come from? Darrell Moore — who was Greene County's chief assistant prosecutor in 1992, and later led the office for more than a decade — told the News-Leader that prisoners have been one common source.

"As people went to prison, they would try and find ways to maybe leverage themselves out of trouble and out of prison," said Moore, who now works for the Missouri Attorney Generals' Office. "So they would hear stories so they would call a lawyer who would call the police department. It got to the point where we could say, 'We’ve looked at that, we’ve already done that.'"

The case's public profile has waxed and waned over the years. By the late 1990s, developments were few. In the early 2000s, tips prompted several digging operations. The past decade, however, has been largely quiet.

King said that a lot of information was shared in the case's early days. However, at some point, he said, telling the public everything "to a point can hinder an investigation, because when we do look at a potential person of interest or something of that nature, they have just as much information as everyone else on the street."

"So we don't have anything held back to judge whether or not they're being honest with us," King said.

Those who followed the case in the 1990s will remember the name Robert Craig Cox, a convicted kidnapper known to be in Springfield when the women went missing, who proceeded to tell the authorities the three were dead and he knew where they were buried. His status hasn't changed in recent years. He remains a person of interest.

A stubborn theory in some corners of the internet is that the women are buried underneath a south Springfield parking garage owned by CoxHealth. Police spokeswoman Lisa Cox said the department first received that tip in 2006, but that the original tipster "provided no evidence or logical reasoning behind this theory at that time or since then."

25th anniversary of the Three Missing Women case

Police detectives and a former prosecutor reflect on the 25th anniversary of the Three Missing Women case. Andrew Jansen/News-Leader

The tips still trickle in.

"They've leveled off," said Springfield police Sgt. Todd King. "We tend to get, I would say, a couple a month."

It's been 25 years since three Springfield women vanished without a trace. On June 6, 1992, 19-year-old Suzie Streeter and her friend Suzie McCall, 18, graduated from Parkview High School. They spent the evening at graduation parties.

In the early morning hours of June 7, the two retired to a home in the 1700 block of East Delmar Street, where Streeter lived with her mother, 47-year-old Sherrill Levitt.

That's where the mystery begins. Levitt, Streeter and McCall were never seen again.

When a friend called the home around 8 a.m., there was no answer. Over the course of the day, friends and family members made the rounds and made calls, checking out places they thought the women might have gone. Assumptions that the three women would return any minute gradually gave way to worry. On the evening of June 7, McCall's mother called police.

The scene was concerning. Each of the women had a car, and all three were parked outside the unlocked house. Their purses were at the top of the stairs. Levitt and Streeter, both smokers, had left their cigarettes behind. McCall had left without her migraine medication.

But there was no sign of a struggle. The only thing amiss was a porch light cover that had been busted. Friends of the women, however, had cleaned up the broken glass long before the cops were called, thinking they were being helpful.

It was a highly-publicized case from the start. The FBI was called. Search parties were organized. Within a week, the faces of Springfield's three missing women were broadcast on the television show "America's Most Wanted." Tips poured in.

The flyer for the three missing women, Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall. (Photo: News-Leader File Photo)

A case that everyone expected to be quickly solved, however, turned into the city's most well-known cold case.

"It's always been open," King said in a recent interview late last month. "It's an active investigation."

The Springfield Police Department has turned over. There are no sworn officers left that were on the force back in 1992. Over the years, the case of the Springfield Three, or 3MW, has been assigned to numerous investigators. Whenever one has retired, or been promoted, the case has been handed off to someone new. Fresh eyes.

For the last year and a half, the eyes have been those of Detective Scott Hill. King, as his direct supervisor, helps him respond to the tips that come in.

There have been thousands over the years, although fewer as time has gone on. The majority that come in these days are identical, or similar, to previous ones. That's not to say they are unwelcome. After 25 years, the department's plea hasn't changed: Keep them coming.

"Somebody out there knows something and has not come forward, with a piece of information to put this thing together," Lt. Culley Wilson said.

"We wish they would come forward, because it's awful to lose a child for those families," Wilson continued. "But to lose a child and not know where they're at, or to not know what's happening, it's tragic."

Darrell Moore was an assistant prosecutor at the time three Springfield women went missing in 1992. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader)

Cox said police have spoken with the woman who made the tip, as well as individuals she hired to scan a portion of the parking garage. In some cases, Cox said, the individuals denied making statements the woman attributed to them. A professor told police he was unaware of technology that could scan the area in the way the tipster described, according to police.

Construction of the parking garage began in September 1993, Cox said — some 15 months after the women went missing.

"Digging up the area and subsequently reconstructing this structure would be extremely costly, and without any reasonable belief that the bodies could be located here, it is illogical to do so, and for those reasons SPD does not intend to," Cox said. "Investigators have determined this lead to not be credible."

King said Springfield police "keep very close contact with the McCalls." Contact with the extended Streeter family is more occasional.

The causes of cold cases breakthroughs can generally be divided into two categories. First, someone can talk, either in the form of a confession or just another tip, one that leads police to the perpetrator(s). Second, there can be a scientific breakthrough that makes existing evidence more valuable. Some cold cases, for instance, have been solved with DNA technology that didn't exist when the crime first occurred.

Moore said the first option is likely the only one here. He said he's unaware of "any evidence found at the scene that could ever implicate anybody."

Wilson and King, of Springfield police, said they both remain optimistic.

"We're going to solve it," Wilson said. "I don't know when. It may not be within our time left here (at the department), but we're going to solve it."

Springfield Police Sgt. Todd King talks about the current state of the investigation into the three missing women 25 years after they disappeared . (Photo: Nathan Papes/News-Leader)

Moore said he finds hope in the fact that, during his time as prosecutor, people were brought to justice in two cases more than 20 years after the fact.

The first was the 1982 murder of 15-year-old Tammy Smith, whose body was found two months after she disappeared after returning a shopping cart to a Ramey's grocery store; Joel "Jody" Moore was sentenced in 2005. The second was the prosecution of Gerald Carnahan for the 1985 murder of 20-year-old Nixa resident Jackie Johns; a jury found Carnahan guilty in 2010.

“So at times I think it’ll never be resolved, but then I remind myself of at least those two cases where eventually there was resolution," he said.

Twenty-five years later, the Springfield Three still resonates as a case it seems everyone local knows. Wilson, however, said that if you went back 30 years, it's likely most people could rattle off the details of the Young Brothers Massacre. But now there are plenty of locals unaware of the 1932 gun battle that killed six law enforcement officers in present-day Republic.

"That's kind of the fear," Wilson said. "As more time goes by, this case gets colder and colder."

Still, he said, "we're both optimistic.”

How did the three missing women case impact Springfield's psyche?

Here's a timeline of the case:

— 1992 —
June 6: Suzie Streeter and Stacy (sp.) McCall graduate from Kickapoo High School, later attending two graduation parties together. The pair wind up at Streeter’s house at 1717 E. Delmar St. about 2 a.m. June 7.
June 7: A friend calls the house at 8 or 9 a.m. and gets no answer. She stops by a little after noon, but there is no sign of the girls or Suzie’s mother, Sherrill Levitt. Police are called late that evening.
June 8: Police begin investigating the case. The unlocked house appears as if the women simply vanished while getting ready for bed.
June 9: The FBI is called in.
June 14: Authorities begin a sweep of wooded areas and streams in the Springfield area and search an apartment building after a letter containing a rough drawing of the apartment complex and the phrase, “use Ruse of Gas Man checking for Leak,” is found in a News-Leader rack at a grocery store. Also on this day, pictures of the women air on the television show “America's Most Wanted.”
June 15: Police begin working a fresh tip about a transient who neighbors reported seeing near the home in the days before the women disappeared. A sketch is released, showing a man with long hair and a full beard.
June 16: Police release a photo of a retouched Dodge van, similar to one seen near Levitt and Streeter's home early on June 7.
June 24: Police work on a new tip. A waitress at George’s Steakhouse, one of Levitt’s favorite restaurants, says she saw the three women at the diner between 1 and 3 a.m. June 7. The women arrived and left together. The waitress said Suzie appeared giddy, perhaps intoxicated, and her mom tried to calm her down.
June 28: Police end their 24-hour command post at Levitt’s home.

— 1993 —
Jan. 2: An anonymous New Year’s Eve caller to a switchboard operator of “America's Most Wanted” is cut off when the operator tries to link up with Springfield investigators. Police still seek contact with the man, whom they consider to have prime knowledge of the abductions.
Feb. 14: For the first time, police announce that they are considering the possibility that the disappearances are the work of one or more serial killers.
Aug. 28: Information from an informant leads police to search farmland in Webster County looking for bodies. Police say they find items at the scene, but will not elaborate. The results of the search warrant were sealed.

— 1994 —
A lead prompts authorities to search a section of Bull Shoals Lake, where they find animal remains and pieces of clothing. The clothing does not match the description of what the women were wearing.

— 1995 —
A grand jury disbands in January without handing up indictments. Robert Craig Cox, whose name came up early in the investigation, is arrested in Texas for aggravated robbery. After information on Cox is presented to a grand jury, investigators interview him in a Texas prison. In the grand jury, Cox’s ex-girlfriend tells jurors that she lied when she told police Cox was with her at church the morning of June 7, 1992.

— 1996 —
Former News-Leader reporter Robert Keyes interviews Cox from prison. The inmate tells Keyes he knows the women were killed and buried somewhere in Springfield or close by. “And they’ll never be found.”

— 1997 —
The family of Sherrill Levitt and Suzie Streeter go through court proceedings to declare the two women dead. Stacy’s parents vow that they will not declare their daughter dead until her body is found.

— 2001 —
Maj. Steve Ijames takes command of the Criminal Investigations Section and reopens several cold cases, including that of the three missing women.

— 2002 —
Springfield police write Cox a letter, requesting an interview. He declines. Also this year, Webster County authorities dig near an abandoned slaughterhouse south of Marshfield. They find teeth and bone fragments estimated to be about 100 years old.

—2003 —
Following new tips, investigators check an old farm about five miles south of Cassville. Cadaver-seeking dogs show interest in various areas. Tires, trash, a motorcycle and sections of a green vehicle are dug up from the surrounding farmland. DNA samples taken from an abandoned house on the property are sent to a lab for testing, but no match is found.

— 2006 —
A group of amateur detectives go to Springfield police and Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore with their theory that the three women are buried under a parking garage near Cox South hospital. Authorities decide not to dig under the garage, saying there isn’t enough evidence to warrant the cost of digging.

— 2010 —
Paul Williams, Springfield's new police chief, initiates a review of the case, which extends into 2012.

— 2012 —
Springfield police investigators travel to Virginia and present their review of the case to a panel of 25 criminal-justice investigators assembled by the National

News-Leader Article: Impact - May 29, 2017 | 1 of 3



How did the three missing women case impact Springfield's psyche?


Gregory J. Holman , GHOLMAN@NEWS-LEADER.COM Published 5:11 p.m. CT May 29, 2017 | Updated Approx 10 am May 30, 2017

Video - http://sgfnow.co/2rgYn6l


Janis McCall talks about her daughter Stacy, who disappeared 25 years ago along with two other women. Andrew Jansen/News-Leader

The 1992 disappearance of Sherrill (sp.) Levitt, Suzanne Streeter and Stacy McCall prompted a mixed psychological impact on Springfield and its community parenting culture, psychologists and longtime residents told the News-Leader.

Kay Logsdon, a longtime Springfield resident who served as city spokeswoman when the three women went missing, said that the disappearance was felt as a "community crisis."

"My overwhelming memories are of the concern for the women, concern for their families," Logsdon said. "And the hope that we carried for them."

"I think everybody in Springfield put themselves in their place," she added. "It was one of the first times when an abduction hit home."

Springfield psychologist Deborah Cox said an unexplained disappearance can create "collective anxiety" in the community.

"It's different from individual anxiety because it's something shared," said Cox, a specialist in family therapy and trauma recovery who was at Missouri State University from 1998 to 2009 before turning to private practice.

The sense of threat induced by an event like the disappearance of the "three missing women" is akin to the effects of a terror attack, she said.

"Because it is terrorist activity," she added.

Cox said that it's common for people to react by saying, "Oh boy, we better be locking our doors now, we better have a tighter rein on our kids."

Meanwhile, collective anxiety may crop up when we least expect it.

"It might be invisible to us," Cox said. "We may not know why we have a feeling of unease."

The emotions of every individual are affected by a planetary network of human relationship ties, Cox said.

The flyer for the three missing women, Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall. (Photo: News-Leader File Photo)

As such, collective anxiety can affect things like traffic patterns, the atmosphere at schools, family life and relationships among next-door neighbors.

Grant Jones, a psychologist with Evangel University who specializes in PTSD and trauma disorders, posited a somewhat different view.

"A one-time event will have a novelty effect, but then it will go away," he said.

He likened the case of the missing women to news cycles.

"It's a sensational thing, and there may be some effects like 9/11," he said. "People change a little bit, but within a year they're back doing what they did before."

Jones believes there was not much impact from the 1992 case because at that time the public was less aware of issues such as human trafficking or instances of ex-spouses abducting children from schools.

In his view, most people could not relate to the situation, so were less affected by it.

Stuart McCall takes a phone call as Janis sits near on June 9, 1992. (Photo: News-Leader File Photo)

Today, the public hears multiple story lines to the effect that "the world is not safe for children," Jones said, citing awareness of sexual predators and child abduction.

Jones cited the 2014 Hailey Owens case, in which a child was abducted from near her northwest Springfield home before being sexually assaulted and killed, as having a greater impact than the case of the three missing women.

"So many people could identify with it," he said. "It's a child doing normal outdoor stuff, and then she's gone. That's scary."

"Any parent, grandparent can say, 'Yes, I've let my kids play outside.'"

Still, Jones, who has been at Evangel 33 years, has memories of the events of 1992.

Police detectives and a former prosecutor reflect on the 25th anniversary of the Three Missing Women case. Andrew Jansen/News-Leader

"For me, it was like okay, where's the police in this?" he said.

"There wasn't a sense that this was part of a larger narrative. It was like, this is weird. This happens maybe in Texas or New York or somewhere, but in Springfield, Missouri, that's bizarre."

Springfield native Mary Guccione remembers her family and friends were abuzz about the case.

"(The case) affected everybody," she said.

She remembers when a Springfield friend called to ask her to put up missing-person posters around Joplin.

Some of the more than 30 officers investigating the disappearance of three women gather for an afternoon police briefing by police chief Terry Knowles on June 10, 1992.  (Photo: News-Leader File Photo)

Her church offered prayers for Levitt, Streeter, McCall and their families.

She and her fellow parents began to wonder about how best to look out for their children.

"Everybody's kids were graduating" when the women disappeared, Guccione said. "Everyone was concerned about their teenage daughters because they didn't understand what was going on."

Guccione said that despite this, she felt her friends and neighbors reacted reasonably to the disappearance. She never had the impression that "overinflated" stories were coming out.

"But the eyebrow was always raised."

Guccione added that she raised her children as she had been raised: free-rein.

"I told them not to stray too far, always let me know where they were going," she said. "The minute the streetlights came on, they were to be home."

"It was very much a small-town type of childhood, and we knew our neighbors."

Twenty-five years later, Cox, the psychologist in private practice, believes the community continues to see effects of the case.

File photo of the second investigation at the Levitt house on east Delmar. File Photo In the photo are Janis McCall, center, Terry Knowles, then police chief, and Meredith McCall. (Photo: News-Leader File Photo)

"Time doesn't cause anything to happen on its own," she said. " But over time, other processes do morph the information."

People already prone to fear and paranoia "will be even more stirred up," apt to "dig around" and make up stories to explain mysterious events.

"On some level, we're all trying to make sense of it," she said.

Jones, the Evangel psychologist, concurred.

"When you're creating a memory and you don't have all the details, you do memory reconstruction," he said. People add details where none exist.

"You start to create something that might not be accurate because every human being needs closure," he said.

"The longer it goes on, the more weird it may become, because the traditional explanations don't work, yet we still want something to explain it."