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Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Celebration of Life for Women Who Went Missing 25 Years Ago
By: Macy Marie
11:53 PM, Jun 7, 2017
Three women went missing in Springfield 25 years ago today.
Instead of a memorial, friends and family held a celebration of life at Phelps Grove Park in Springfield.
It started at 7:30.
People told fun stories about Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter, and Stacy McCall.
"We went camping for spring break our senior year and it was cold... lots of good memories," one friend recalled.
After people told stories, candles were lit and four lanterns were let go for the women.
One lantern for each and the last was for all of them.
Stacy's mother, Janis McCall, had many stories about the group. She says this was not a memorial.
"Thank all of you for coming out here for the celebration of the lives of three women," she said to the crowd.
"We can't say they're gone," Stacy's father, Stuart McCall, said.
"This is my last candle light vigil. This is all I can handle...25 years," said Janis.
Recalling the good times: Friends, family of 3 missing women celebrate lives not forgotten
Gathering celebrates lives of three missing women
By Reporter Mike Landis and Photojournalist Lance Green |
Posted: Wed 11:04 PM, Jun 07, 2017 | Updated: Wed 11:06 PM, Jun 07, 2017
Springfield, Mo It was a quarter century ago three women went missing from a home in Springfield. On Tuesday, the community gathered to remember the women and hope for closure once and for all.
The event was called a celebration of life and was a chance to remember a different time before the families' hearts were so tragically shattered, and the city lost part of its innocence. Those at the gathering took part in a candlelight vigil and a release of Japanese lanterns in honor of the three.
Suzanne and Stacy graduated from Kickapoo High School the night before the three disappeared without a trace. Sherrill is Suzanne's mother. Officers found all their personal belongings at home and no obvious sign of foul play. Springfield Police have investigated thousands of leads over the years, but no breaks.
Mother talks about 25 years with no answers in Stacy McCall's disappearance
By reporter Paula Morehouse and videographer Justin Haase, KY3 News |
Posted: Wed 10:31 PM, Jun 07, 2017 | Updated: Wed 11:53 PM, Jun 07, 2017
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A quarter of a century is still not enough time to heal wounds when there are no answers.
"All I want to know is where they are. If you sold them to someone, let me know. If you have disposed of them in some horrendous manner, please let me know," pleaded Janis McCall.
The unknown has tortured McCall since her daughter, Stacy McCall, graduated from Kickapoo High School. After a few parties that night, Stacy and her friend, Suzie Streeter, went to Suzie's house to sleep over. It would be the last time anyone reported seeing them or Sherrill (SP) Levitt, Suzie's mom.
"I expected her home that night, the next day, maybe a couple of days afterward," McCall said in an interview on Tuesday. "Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that it would be 25 years later and I would be saying Stacy still missing."
Though her daughter has been gone longer than the time McCall had with her, McCall's memories are crisp and comforting. Stacy, she said, was hilarious.
McCall recalled a period when her daughter was expanding her vocabulary.
"She'd say, 'much to my chagrin.'" Janis corrected her pronunciation of the word to which Stacy replied " 'Chagrin, what is that mom?' And I'd have to tell her it was chagrin. And she'd say, 'Do you think that's why everybody was looking at me funny today?' We'd have these talks over the dinner table, and we'd be hysterical," McCall said.
McCall holds onto those cherished moments from a time when she never imagined she wouldn't see her daughter on her 19th birthday, or the subsequent ones. The only new vision of Stacy arose when the family had to guess what she would look like to make age progression pictures for missing posters.
"You have to dream what she looks like now because I have no idea," McCall said. "I still go up to people that I can't see the front of them, if they have real long hair. I want to go to the front of them and see who they are."
Her 25-year quest to find Stacy has come up empty, and the three women's disappearance under suspicious circumstances remains a mystery.
McCall, though, vows never to give up believing her daughter could still come home.
"Until I know a hundred percent that Stacy is deceased I will never declare her dead," she said. "They're going to have to find some remains somewhere before I call her legally dead. It's not for any reason other than if I do and she's not dead, think of how mad she'd be when she gets back."
McCall said she still talks about her daughter publicly because she hopes that what she has to say will one day prompt someone who knows something to step forward.
Mom of 1 of 3 missing women from Springfield won't give up hope
Springfield's 25-year mystery: 3 missing women
By reporter Paula Morehouse and videographer Justin Haase, KY3 News |
Posted: Wed 1:25 PM, Jun 07, 2017
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It was a crime that shook Springfield to its core and made national headlines. June 7 marks 25 years since Sherrill (SP) Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall vanished without a trace from a home in central Springfield.
Their disappearance still haunts those closest to the investigation. The most visible relative of the three women, Stacy McCall's mother, says she'll never give up on finding her daughter.
The three women vanished into the night but Sherrill (SP) Levitt, her daughter Suzie Streeter, and her friend Stacy McCall, never left our lives. Fresh flowers adorn a bench built in their honor in Phelps Grove Park and their images, frozen from 1992, still hang in a few storefronts.
"There's no way I can picture her other then as she went out the door at 18,” said Janis McCall, Stacy’s mother.
McCall has never given up hope. Since the beginning, she's worked tirelessly, telling anyone and everyone about the three missing women.
The day that changed so many lives started with a celebration: Graduation Day for Stacy and Suzie. After a few parties, the two friends went to Suzie's house. That was the last time anyone reports seeing them and Levitt.
The mystery has fueled thousands of leads, theories, and rumors over the years.
In 2007, after speculation that the women were buried under a Cox South Hospital parking garage, a local writer hired a consulting engineer who used ground penetrating radar to scan the garage. The man running it said his machine picked up three distinct objects. McCall, though, isn't convinced.
"And it came about from a psychic and I told him at the time that was complete craziness,” she said on Tuesday.
Springfield police looked into the theory and also find it is not credible. They never requested that the parking garage concrete be destroyed to search under it.
Amid all the craziness, a number of paths led to people who might be involved. Police had questioned convict Robert Craig Cox, who was known to be in Springfield at the time of the disappearance. In 1996, KY3 News reporter Dennis Graves interviewed Cox in a Texas prison.
"I know that they are dead. I'll say that. And I know that,” Cox said in the interview.
"That's not a theory?" Graves asked
“I just know that they are dead. That's not my theory. I just know that. There's no doubt about that,” Cox said.
Cox refused to talk anymore.
No signs of the women have ever been found, no one was arrested, and no one was charged.
"Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that it would be 25 years later and I would be saying, ‘Stacy is still missing,’” she said.
The public is invited to a celebration of the women's lives on Wednesday at the Victim's Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park. It starts at 7:30 p.m.
Continuing the Investigation 25 Years Later
By: Jenifer Abreu
Posted: Jun 07, 2017 10:56 PM CDT | Updated: Jun 07, 2017 11:00 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- June 7, 2017, marks 25 years of unanswered questions empty theories and a mystery hanging over the City of Springfield.
Three women went missing and no evidence of what happened to them was left behind. But a quarter of a century later police are still investigating.
For 25 years, thousands of tips have come in and many theories considered, but police say there's simply not enough evidence that makes any of those theories a viable one. At this point, it would take that one person with that one piece of information to come forward.
"It's real, it happened in Springfield, Missouri," said David Asher, a retired detective who worked on the case years ago.
Three women, Sherrill Levitt, her daughter Suzie Streeter, and Suzie's friend Stacy McCall simply vanished from a Springfield home.
"It is a mystery," said Sgt. Todd King, with the Springfield Police Department. "Nobody knows what really happened."
What's likely become the city's most perplexing case began on June 7, 1992. And since then, it's like the same story has been told. And even 25 years later, it's still under investigation.
Sgt. King says they still receive two or three tips a month.
"I think what it tells you is that the community cares about the case," he said.
And every time the phone rings...
"You're always hopeful that that's the tip that's going to push you in the right direction or lead you down the right trail," said King.
He's currently working on the case and says it's always been an active investigation.
"Most of the time it's reviewing all of the old information and the old things that the other detectives that have come before them have done," he said.
In hopes that with more technology and a fresh set of eyes some new lead will come up.
"What you do is you have detectives that go back and you look at those tips and see what was done on it before," said King. "And with the new twist, they look into that angle on it. Or they may go back and re-interview old witnesses to see if they remember things from back then and things that they failed to talk to the officers about."
Some are doing their part to make sure the community doesn't forget. A missing person's poster with the women's photo has been taped to the door at Coyote Adobe Bar and Cafe for as long as they've been missing.
"It's there and it's been there every day since 1992," said David Bauer. "Through these reports in these milestones years, we hear 20 years, we hear 15, 10 and 25. People look at it and they comment about it. Not so much anymore, a lot of people don't know and don't understand because it was so long ago, many lives, I mean my cook wasn't even born yet."
A case that now, a quarter of a century old is touching across generations. And throughout the years... many theories have come across detectives' desks.
"Anybody that truly wants that one theory over the other to be the case, they can make it fit," said Sgt. King. "The reality is when you start to look into putting evidence with the theories and matching things up to make a person as a viable suspect as people think, we just don't have that right now."
Investigators who worked on this case say they are honored to have been trusted with a case that shook and still haunts a community.
"For me personally, I was proud to be able to work on that case," said Captain Greg Higdon, with the Springfield Police Department. "I was humbled that they wanted me to take a look at it and kind of see from a different angle, a different set of eyes."
The memories of the three women are still very real among their families, the police department and the entire community.
Everyone may have their own theories of what happened, but one thing they all have in common is there's still hope that someday, what could be described as the perfect crime, will be solved.
"I'm hopeful and very optimistic, that this case will be solved at some point," said Sgt. King.
"Somebody out there hopefully says 'you know, it's time. I've gotta let this go'," said Bauer.
"It's time for us to have some results," said Janis McCall, Stacy's mother.
"If you know anything, or if you think you know anything, call the Springfield Police Department," said Asher. "If you've done it in the past, and nobody is contacted you, do it again, and again. Because one of you, someone, knows something. And we can't, no police department can succeed without your involvement."
Janis McCall believes there will never really be closure but she, like so many others, still hold on to hope that someone, someday, will speak up.
"I don't have to know who it is, I just want the answers of where the three missing women are. That's all," she said.
Public Invited to Observance for Three Missing Women Tonight
The three vanished on this date, 25 years ago
By: Brennon Gurley
Posted: Jun 07, 2017 05:17 AM CDT | Updated: Jun 07, 2017 07:21 AM CDT
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Today marks 25 years since three women vanished from a home in Springfield. Tonight, the community will come together to remember the lives of Stacy McCall, Suzanne Streeter, and her mother, Sherrill Levitt.
The Victim's Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield Is a somber place where families can pause and remember those lost to violence. Hailey Owens is remembered here, as are the area victims of 9-11.
But tonight, the community will celebrate the lives of three women whose final story is still unwritten.
"She had $50 in cash and she had her swimming suit and she had her little bitty makeup thing that was just a little makeup pouch and I said, aren't you going to take a towel and she said, 'No, I'll just use one of theirs. I don't want to get mine dirty,'" remembers Janis McCall, whose daughter, Stacy, vanished on June 7, 1992.
Janis says June 7, 1992 changed her and the community forever. "She headed off and we said our goodbyes and kissed good bye."
It's then that two high school graduates and a mother would disappear without a trace, only to leave investigators and family members looking for answers.
"Had no idea that, that would be the last time we would see our daughter," McCall says.
Janis McCall can't believe the case is at the 25-year mark. "Would love to know where she was. I'd love to bring her back and be able to have a service for them."
She still holds up hope that she gets the answers to her daughter’s disappearance. "I have no idea where they went, who took them, you know I would love it. Absolutely love it. If they called me. If one of them call me."
McCall and Sherrill Levitt's sister, Deb Schwartz, say few understand their nightmare. "But, you know what. That doesn't matter because I know that God's got this. He's the one that I put my faith in and I know that he's not going to let harm come to her anymore."
"The most important thing is that this person is caught and punished. And that this person doesn't do this ever again to anybody," Schwartz says.
Neither woman believes their loved ones are still alive. "When you're dealing with no answers it seems like the worst thing," Schwartz says. But no one knows exactly what happened.
"If you know something say something absolutely that would be my biggest hope for this."
The families have never given up hope the three will be found.
"Hopefully people are watching or looking at this will say you know, that they have someone they love," says Schwartz. "Whoever it is. Wife, mother, sister and put themselves in the place of losing them like this and come forward."
Everyone is invited to join and share in celebrating the lives of the three missing women at the Victims Memorial Garden, starting at 7:30 p.m. You're asked to bring a battery-operated candle for the observance.
A Quarter Century of Questions: Escaping A Digital Fingerprint
By: Daniel Shedd
Posted: Jun 06, 2017 09:10 PM CDT | Updated: Jun 06, 2017 09:49 PM CDT
3 Missing Women Stories
A Quarter Century of Questions...
A Quarter Century of Questions: The...
SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- It's been 10 years since the first iPhone came out. That was in 2007.
Facebook and Myspace came on the scene around three years before that, in 2004.
It's hard to believe, but you would have to venture 12 more years in times past to get a glimpse of technology in 1992.
Tracking crimes was much different back then. They didn't have what detectives now call a 'Digital Fingerprint'.
“They left the party at Battlefield, somewhere around 2 a.m., and their vehicle was found around 12 p.m. at the Delmar address,” said David Millsap. “We would have been able to get an idea of their route just based on their cell phone.”
Current Laclede County Sherriff, David Millsap, started with the Springfield Police Department a year and a half after that fateful day in 1992.
“I really, truly believe that it’s the case that haunts the Springfield Police Department,” said Millsap.
He led a comprehensive review of the case, including over 25,000 documents just three years ago. The conclusion, is one that still runs cold.
“This is one of those tragic tales where the case just hasn’t been solved, and you hope for the best because the family certainly deserves that,” said Millsap.
Millsap is not one to make excuses as to why the case wasn’t solved, although he cited numerous holes he saw within the investigation. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
He said that it’s often a fallacy that a big task force can get the job done. While sometimes successful, this sometimes opens the door to a botched crime scene.
There’s too many hands to stir the pot.
He also sited technological restrictions. They didn’t have cell phones or social media, like Facebook. The technological age was just an infant.
Which begs the question, how would have this case been different if it would have happened today?
“If the event happened today, the first thing investigators would start looking for are those digital footprints,” explained David Millsap.
We’ve all heard privacy concerns in recent years. Things like IP addresses and cell phone towers. They’re traceable by detectives, but Dr. Shannon McMurtrey with Drury University explains that it’s accessible to everyone.
“If you post on social media, take a picture and share that on the internet, or do anything involved with an IP address, we can deduce where you’ve been,” said Dr. Shannon McMurtrey.
He pointed out a quick search on a free website, www.socialbearing.com.
With a few clicks of the mouse, here’s a view of all the twitter activity within downtown Springfield over the last 3 days.
Each of those triangles represent a different tweet, and can be filtered down to individual users.
“When you ask people if they care about privacy, they will tell you that they really are not, especially younger generations. They really don’t care," said Dr. McMurtrey.
"It’s only when you start to show them how much of their privacy that they are giving up, without realizing it, that they start to care."
It's an advantage they didn’t have back in 1992.
“Back then you couldn’t even track local telephone calls,” said Millsap. “You had to have a trap on the phone. Someone could make that call locally, but there was no way to trace that call.”
In today’s day and age, it’s nearly impossible to escape a digital fingerprint.
Have you ever walked out of work, only for your phone to say it will take 20 minutes to drive home?
Or maybe you were downtown, and your phone beeps, reminding you how to get to your parked car.
That’s because our smart phones have been following us: Tracking every step we have taken in our journey together.
It’s not some rogue software that was downloaded in the background, or a new fancy app that you need to uninstall. It comes standard on most devices.
And the best part?
Most of us accept those terms when we turn on our phones for the first time.
“It really drove the way we handled major cases, and the way we thought about things," said Sheriff Millsap.
"I can remember many times with a missing persons case, and thinking that back I needed to do things right, right from the beginning."
"The ending starts with the beginning of the case. The things we do at the beginning of case often determine how the case will turn out,” said Millsap.
Your Digital Fingerprint (iPhone Users)
For iPhone users, there is a simple way to find out where your iPhone has been following you. This will be available if you accepted and enabled 'location services' when you first received the phone.
1. Click on Settings
2. Scroll down to Privacy
3. Click on Location Services
4. Scroll down to the bottom and tap on System Services
5. Scroll down to the bottom of the first section of services (just above 'Product Improvement'), and find Frequent Locations
If enabled (green), you will be able to click into your history of recent locations, (i.e 'Springfield, Missouri' or 'Branson, Missouri') and then on individual addresses that you have visited.
Each 'location' will tell you when you visited, how many times you visited, and for how long.
A Quarter Century of Questions: Families Of 3 Missing Women Try To Cope
By: Melanie Chapman
Posted: Jun 05, 2017 10:32 PM CDT | Updated: Jun 05, 2017 10:32 PM CDT
Springfield, Mo. -- They vanished without a trace - Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter and Sherrill Levitt.
Through the years there were many leads, some appeared strong but investigators say they never turned up any credible evidence.
"We were on a roller coaster that would go up and down and up and down and that roller coaster would say, we think we have them," said Janis McCall, Stacy's mother.
Twenty-five years later there is no sign of the women and no known suspect. For the families of the missing women, coping with the disappearance over the years has changed them. Janis and her husband, Stuart, have grandchildren today.
"We became even more protective of our family. I still don't want my daughters going shopping, even if it’s at the mall or Walmart or wherever by themselves," Janis said.
From the beginning, Janis stayed in constant contact with investigators, posted fliers, received phone calls at her home some hateful, others seemingly helpful. Sherrill's (SP.) sister and Suzie's aunt, Deb Schwartz, lives in Arizona.
"It was hard for us, it was very hard for us because we weren't there and we felt like gosh, we aren't doing like what Janis could do," Deb said.
Schwartz said she still has a lot of anger. Living with no answers and no sign of their loved ones has taken its toll on the family. Her mother and father have since passed.
"He was 75 when he died and I think he would have had a much longer life without that stress. I think it ate at him, being a father and knowing that in his mind he failed to protect his daughter or to bring it to any conclusion was very hard. It is very hard for all of us, we can't do anything," Deb said.
Deb and Janis both are aware of the many possibilities as to what may have happened and who could have done it. Both come back to one man as a likely suspect: Robert Craig Cox. He was convicted of killing a woman in Florida but was released on a trial technicality. He was in Springfield at the time of the disappearance.
"He was fully capable of doing it. He had, he actually had worked with the same place that my husband worked Reliable Chevrolet." Janis said.
Cox would have very well seen Stacy, her sisters and her friends when they would visit her father at work," Janis said.
"Cox is probably the most logical choice. There are so many ways that he fit. and he's pretty much a sociopath from the interviews I've seen," said Deb.
With all the emotional suffering, the families have endured the past 25 years, it's their faith that has helped guide them through.
"I take comfort in believing that my dad is with Sherrill and Suzie and knows what happened now. You know happened and know that they're in heaven and they're in a happy place and a better place than this world and my mom's there too," Deb said.
Janis said she still struggles with depression at times.
"I turned this over to God probably three or four weeks after she disappeared. I said I just can't handle anymore you've got to do it because I can't and I do think that's a part of it. I do have a good relationship with God and I know that in his own time, he'll let me know. It might be long after I've gone and can be a blink of an eye and it’s been 25 years, so maybe he's only blinked once and may take that second blink," Janis said.
The families still hold out hope, someone will do the right thing, and come forward with solid information on this case. They know it’s highly unlikely the women are alive - they just want to bring them home.