Monday, January 31, 2011

Was Suzanne Streeter asked by police to testify against Dustin Recla, Michael Clay and Joseph Riedel?




For families, no justice, no rest

June 9, 2002

For families, no justice, no rest
They keep lost loved ones in memories and photos, but closure is a distant, painful concept.

By Laura Bauer
News-Leader

In her dream Debbie Schwartz saw the image of her sister Sherrill’s face, blonde curls of hair surrounding it.
It was like Sherrill was trying to tell her something.
Schwartz had this experience six months after her sister, her niece Suzie Streeter and a friend of her niece, Stacy McCall, disappeared in June 1992.
“I had dreams then that felt more like visions,” Schwartz says today from her home in the intermountain West. “They were very powerful impressions that she was not on earth anymore. I was accepting of that.”
While family and friends of three missing Springfield women face another year without them, and another year with the frustrating mystery of what happened, some see the women in their dreams.
Others keep them alive in memories and photos, praying that one day they’ll know what happened that June morning in 1992. A bench dedicated to the women inside the Victim’s Memorial Garden in Springfield’s Phelp’s Grove Park is full of flowers and mementos this weekend, marking the 10th anniversary of the disappearance.
“We know we’ll never forget them. But do we proceed with the other things and now go on with what we have to do? Yes,” says Cliff Williams, Sherrill Levitt’s uncle. “I don’t like that word closure. ... Closure, that’s the buttons on your shirt, the zipper on your britches.”
He stops and leans to his left, reaching out for the sliding glass door of his home outside Strafford, and gives it a push.
“This is closure,” he says as the door slams tight.

Without Sherrill, Suzie and Stacy, these families believe, there is no closure. So they don’t wait for it. They just hope for the day authorities call them and say they have a suspect in the disappearance — and that they have found the remains of the women.
Janis McCall says she is 99 percent sure the women are gone.
“But even if there’s a fraction of an amount of possibility she could be alive, I’d be wrong not to hold that hope,” Janis says. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. ... It’s hard to think of what she might have been, what she could have been.”
The only photo the McCalls keep on their mantle is a picture of Stacy with some of her waist-length brown hair in a ponytail.
Janis and Stu McCall tell their grandchildren about their Aunt Stacy.
And Janelle Kirby, a close childhood friend of Stacy and Suzie, tells her children about the girls she was with the night before they disappeared. Janelle also has taken her 9Ï-year-old stepdaughter to the bench.
Janelle occasionally watches the six hours of videotape from television news agencies from 10 years ago. She cries a lot these nights.
“Before the day I die, I want to know why, who and where,” Janelle says.
Schwartz wants authorities to find the women’s remains.

“The worst part is the disrespect,” Schwartz says. “They had to suffer so much and now their remains are somewhere. ... The only thing I can give to Sherrill is some sort of justice and respect of her remains. The fact that’s denied us as a family is ultimate cruelty.
“It’s bad enough you took them from us,” Schwartz adds, directing her anger at the unknown suspect. “But you don’t even allow us to bury them.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Confusion turns to worry.

'Confusion turns to worry, then a call to the police
Officers find purses in the house, cars in the driveway and a skittish dog.

By Laura Bauer
News-Leader

Janelle Kirby was curious. She had been with Stacy McCall and Suzie Streeter at graduation parties the night before, and they had agreed to meet her the next day for some fun at a Branson water park.
It was nearly noon, and the girls hadn’t called.
Janelle decided to drive over to Suzie’s house at 1717 E. Delmar St. — where she figured Stacy and Suzie were sleeping in — to investigate. Hopping out of her car barefoot, the first thing Janelle noticed was broken glass shimmering on the front steps.
The porch globe was busted, yet the yellow bulb burned bright under the midday sun.
Someone — or some thing — must have bumped it, she thought. No big deal.
“As a favor” to Suzie’s mom, Janelle’s boyfriend Mike grabbed a broom, swept up the glass and dumped it in the garbage.
A decade later, authorities view that broken glass as a possible clue to the disappearance of McCall, Streeter and Sherrill Levitt on June 7, 1992. Back then it was an annoyance that could have cut Janelle’s feet.
and as Janelle peered into the house through the living room window, Mike unknowingly discarded the only piece of evidence in what appears to be a kidnapping and triple murder — a case that still reverberates in the Ozarks.
Each of the missing women had a car parked in the driveway. Looking through the window, nothing seemed to be amiss inside. The living room was tidy.
Janelle walked around to the back yard, thinking her friends might be sunbathing on a cloudless day with temperatures near 80.
Nothing.
Better have a look inside, Janelle and Mike thought.
Maybe they were asleep. Maybe they had left a note.
The house was still
Janelle knew Suzie’s little Yorkie well, but had never seen the him yap and carry on as he did when she cracked open the front door. Cinnamon jumped up into her arms, comfortable being with someone he knew.
“I started yelling for them, for Stacy, Suzie and Sherrill,” Janelle says.
The house was still.
She walked through the living room and kitchen, then the bathroom and Suzie’s room.
Little things caught her attention. Suzie’s bed covers were pulled back. The room was a little messy, but nothing unusual for a teen-ager.
The women’s purses were still in the house, piled up on the steps of Suzie’s sunken bedroom.
Suzie and her mother, Sherrill, had left behind their cigarettes. That was odd, Janelle thought. The two were constantly smoking, and rarely went anywhere without smokes.
Puzzled, Janelle and Mike went to a friend’s house, wondering if Suzie and Stacy had gone there before meeting for the trip to Branson. But their friend Shane hadn’t seen the girls. In fact, he was still in bed.
Janelle and Mike returned to 1717 E. Delmar St. one more time. Nothing.
It suddenly occurred to them that the women might have walked to a neighborhood sub shop for lunch, so they hurried over there but, again, found nothing.
They scanned sidewalks of every street they passed, hoping to find the women taking a leisurely walk.
By this time Janelle and Mike were worried, but they still didn’t think the women had disappeared. They just didn’t know where they’d gone.
Maybe Janis knew.
‘Let me talk to stacy’
When Janis McCall hadn’t heard from her daughter by midday that Sunday, she called Janelle’s house.
Janelle’s sister answered the phone.
“Have they gotten up yet?” Janis asked.
The sister explained that Janelle wasn’t home, she left with Mike.
“Let me talk to Stacy,” Janis asked.
“She didn’t stay here,” the sister answered.
Janis told the sister that Stacy did stay there last night, explaining that Stacy had called her about 10:30 p.m. with the news.
No, Janelle’s sister insisted. Stacy went to Suzie’s house. The Kirby house was crowded with relatives and Stacy and Suzie had decided to Suzie’s so they could sleep in her new king-size waterbed.
Janis was a little upset that her daughter didn’t stay where she had planned to sleep. But she would talk with Stacy about that later.
For the time being, she called Suzie’s and left instructions on the answering machine for Stacy to call her when she returned.
Like Janelle and Mike, Janis was worried but not alarmed. The McCall family went to Lake Springfield to watch miniature boats race, as planned. Janis’ mother from Oklahoma was in town, and the family enjoyed a hot day in the sun together.
Janis had talked to Janelle, who explained that she and Mike couldn’t find Stacy and Suzie.
As the day wore on, Janis’ voice on Suzie’s answer machine was getting more frantic, her concern evident. Her worry grew when she got a call from a friend, the mother of one of Stacy’s close friends.
“Are you aware Stacy’s purse and her car and Suzie’s car is still at Sherrill’s house but the girls aren’t?” the woman said.
The sun was starting to set. Janis and one of her two older daughters jumped in the car and drove toward the tiny house on Delmar. The plan was that the sister would drive Stacy’s car home.
“I was going to let her look for her car and clothes,” Janis says. “I thought, ‘That serves you right. You didn’t let me know anything and I won’t let you know.’”
‘Where could she be?’
Light was fading from the evening sky and mature trees around Levitt’s home made the entryway dark. Janis searched for a light, and finally found the switch on a table lamp. She looked around the small, dimly lit living room and made her way through the house.
Suddenly, the house on Delmar was filling with people. Family and friends and parents of friends began pouring into the little house, wondering where the women could be.
Janis paced in the kitchen, still upset that Stacy hadn’t told her where she was. That wasn’t like Stacy, the youngest of three daughters. She was the type of girl who let her parents know where she was at all times.
Stacy had earlier snuck out of the house — only to find her mom waiting outside the apartment building she had gone into. Stacy knew her mom. She knew that Janis worried and that a phone call was always required.
Janis couldn’t understand why her daughter had been gone so long. Things weren’t adding up.
Not only were the purses of all three women inside — with car keys and a large sum of money in Sherrill’s bag — but so were some of Stacy’s clothes. And her migraine medication, something she never left behind, was in her purse. Stacy relied on that medication when her headaches were too much to bear.
“I thought, why would she leave all of this here?” Janis recalls.
She kept asking Janelle, back at East Delmar for the third time that day, “Where could she be? Where could she be?”
The mother of one of Stacy’s friends was with Janis in the kitchen. They planned to look through Sherrill’s personal phone book and call friends to see if they had any idea where the women might have gone.
Let’s make a pot of coffee, the friend suggested.
Janis thought, “I don’t want to do that. What’s Sherrill going to say when we’re sitting in her kitchen drinking coffee?”
Janis started calling people, including a former stepdaughter. No one had heard from Sherrill. Janis called her husband, Stu.
“There’s something not right, something is really wrong.”
He agreed.
It was time to call police. But not 911, Janis thought. That’s only for emergencies. And that’s not what this was. Not yet.
“I was still waiting for them to come in,” Janis says.
She called the department number, and the dispatcher asked if she wanted to call 911.
No. Just take down the information and send an officer, Janis asked.
Within minutes, Officer Rick Bookout got the call.
The overnight shift
The overnight shift is typically a cop’s favorite. The calls are exciting. Officers don’t have to bother with the traffic. And requests for service aren’t as heavy; they can work proactive cases.
Bookout had just clocked in when he heard the police radio crackle. Dispatchers needed the three-year veteran to go to 1717 E. Delmar St. to take a missing- persons report.
“You get a lot of those,” Bookout says. “They’re pretty typical.”
When he got to the house, the door was open. The lights were on. The smell of varnish hit him hard; he figured someone must be doing a remodeling project.
Several people were already inside, milling around the house a block west of Glenstone Avenue. Janelle was there; so was boyfriend Mike. They hadn’t gone to White Water, settling instead for a water slide in Springfield known as Hydra-Slide. Janelle still had her swimsuit on underneath her clothes, her shorts soaking wet from the suit.
Bookout first talked to Stu and Janis McCall.
The officer began jotting down the McCalls’ story in his tiny flip notebook.
Their youngest daughter, Stacy, 18, had come to the house to spend the night with Suzie Streeter, a childhood friend. Stacy and Suzie weren’t supposed to spend the night there, but when plans changed they decided to sleep at the house and go to White Water that morning with some friends. They never called friends to rendezvous for the trip to Branson and they never answered phone calls, which began about 8 a.m.
Bookout took a walk through the home, Janis at his side. They went into Suzie’s room, where pictures of famous blondes hung on the wall and seven oversized stuffed animals were scattered across the floor. Two slats in the window blinds had been separated, as if someone was looking out.
The three women’s purses were all together, Stacy’s sitting on Suzie’s overnight bag.
The officer made some notes in his notebook.
The television was left on. The bed wasn’t made. It looked as if the two girls had gotten ready for bed.
Bookout looked at Janis, “They could have just gone out having fun,” he speculated.
“If she is, she’s in her underwear,” Janis answered. On the floor were Stacy’s flowered shorts, her rings and her watch in the pocket.
Could she have worn some of Suzie’s clothes to go out? Bookout asked.
No, Janis answered. Stacy wouldn’t fit into Suzie’s clothes.
Bookout sat at the dining room table with the McCalls and others. The little Yorkie jumped up on his lap. Cinnamon was shaking like crazy, scared with all the strangers in his house, Bookout said.
“I was thinking, ‘I wish this little dog could talk.’”
Panic rises, hope fades
Officer Brian Gault was the second officer called to the scene. He and Bookout took inventory of the sparse facts they had:

• The three women were gone.
• Their purses had been left behind, along with the keys to their cars, all parked in the
driveway.
• The porch globe had been broken, the glass swept up and discarded.
• The missing mother and daughter were smokers, and they had left their cigarettes.
“She’d leave her house without a lot of things, but a smoker wouldn’t leave without her cigarettes and lighter,” Bookout says today. “I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, this probably isn’t a good situation.”

The officers determined this was a missing-persons report, and that foul play was suspected.
As Janelle watched Bookout jot down notes and interview people in the home, her panic level rose. Sitting on the porch steps facing Delmar Street, she watched every set of headlights approach, praying that a car would stop and the women would get out with an explanation for their absence.
But hope was beginning to fade. She sat on the steps and cried. Hard.
The next question hit Janis like a brick.
“Can you obtain dental records for Stacy?” Bookout inquired.
Her heart sank. She knew then that everything in the house, the clothes and cigarettes and keys left behind, spelled trouble.
“I thought, if they want dental records, they want to identify my daughter,” says Janis, a dental hygienist. “They thought my daughter could be dead.”
Finally, the group of people paraded out of the house and Bookout locked the front door.
Janis was startled, her voice frantic.
“How are they going to get in when they come home?”
Bookout tried to reassure her.
“If they want to get in, they can come to the department and identify themselves.”

He taped a small blue note on the door. It was a standard missing-persons letter, with a handwritten message on back: “When you get in, please call, 864-1810 and cancel the missing persons report.”