Sunday, December 8, 2013

Police Debunk Latest Lead in 3 Missing Women Case

Ozarks First


Police Debunk Latest Lead in 3 Missing Women Case

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Springfield Police are downplaying the significance of a possible new lead in the three missing women case.
Cpl. Matt Brown says investigators have been in contact with the McDonald County Sheriff's Office regarding the latest lead. However, he says it's the same information from a lead in 2009, and has been "thoroughly investigated."
Police say that inmate has provided several conflicting statements, none of which are consistent with the facts of the case.
"We are always open to any new developments related to this case and will fully investigate them," adds Cpl. Brown. "We will review any new information the McDonald County Sheriff's Office may have obtained to determine if any further investigation of this particular lead is warranted."
The Springfield Police Department says it continues to receive tips related to this investigation from a variety of sources, including other law enforcement agencies on a regular basis and each of those are investigated to the fullest extent possible.

Previous Report
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A possible lead has surfaced in the 20-year-old case of the three missing Springfield women. A detective with the McDonald County Sheriff's Department recently traveled to North Carolina to interview an inmate about a separate missing person case in McDonald County.
During the interview, that inmate claimed to have knowledge of the missing women case and who was responsible. The detective confirms that this interview took place and the information was given in front of another police agency and that the inmate went on to pass a polygraph test.
That McDonald County Sheriff is now working with the Springfield Police Department to follow up on this lead.
Along with the detective, KOLR10 News spoke to Janis McCall, mother of Stacy McCall, one of the three missing women. Janis says she and her husband are aware of the new information, but are not making any comments at this time. Instead, they're waiting for the local police department to follow up on this information and contact their family and the other families involved.
In June 1992, Sherill Levitt, 47, her daughter Suzanne Streeter, 19, and Streeter's friend Stacy McCall, 18, disappeared from a home at 1717 E. Delmar.
Since then, Springfield Police, family, and friends of the missing women and the community have chased leads and fought for answers. Police say retesting decades-old evidence may be the future of this case.

McCall and Streeter had just graduated from Kickapoo High School. The girls were eager to head out to graduation parties, but after making stops at several parties the girls opted to return to Streeter and Levitt's home. Police believe the women went missing sometime between 2:30 and 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 7, 1992.

Cars and purses were left behind. No sign of struggle. Nothing out of place -- except for a broken glass globe over the porch light. Janis McCall pushed police to investigate.
In 1992, Marionville Police Chief Mark Webb was then a 34-year-old officer on the Springfield Police force in charge of crimes against persons.
"There was a lag there, of at least a day before it really got rolling."
The women disappeared over a weekend.
"Basically as soon as we realized that this was not the normal missing person," recalls Webb.
Detectives who returned to work Monday began backtracking, retracing the women's steps and their last contacts.
"You're contacting where the people were last seen, at the parties, there's lots of people at the graduation party. Did you see anything, did you hear anything, did you notice anything unusual?"
There were searches by air, land and water.
"Then it became so big, so fast that the police department was basically overwhelmed." The FBI was called in. "National media came. They had full access."
Video was shot in the interior of the home, of detectives as they worked, of every aspect of this case as it unfolded. Days turned to weeks, months and years. The department would often refocus the case, putting a new detective on it looking for answers, something missed.
New leads prompted digs, looking for the women's remains on property in Webster County in August 2002, and on property in Barry County in April 2003. In 2010, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted the SPD.
"They called me," says Lt. David Millsap. "And said we have a cold case review team that looks at these cases."
The department did its homework.
"We figured out early on this was not going to be an easy process. We have over 25,000 police reports -- over 5,000 investigative leads."
In 1992, many reports were hand-written. Many leads jotted on small note cards from the hundreds of calls that came in. A four-person team reorganized the documents. Made them digital.
"That took nearly a year and a half," says Lt. Millsap.
On the team, the most veteran detective has been with the department more than 20 years. The youngest of the detective was in junior high in 1992.
"Almost have a new generation of investigators know the case," says Lt. Millsap.
Before their April Washington, D.C. visit, three people from NCMEC visited Springfield for a prep presentation.
"Actually took a little field trip around Springfield, looked at the house where the abduction occurred, went to the areas where the girls had been that night."
The April 2012 presentation in DC lasted nearly 3 full days in front of a 25-person panel of criminal experts.
"We went over physical evidence that was collected at the scene. We went over the timelines of the victims. We also discussed some of the people looked at as possible suspects. There are people that we have looked at and are completely ruled out. There are people we have looked at for the last 20 years and are still not completely ruled out.
"The profession has improved so much since 1992, especially in the area of science, so is there a piece of DNA evidence out there that hasn't been tested or was tested years ago, but the process is better now that may lead us in a good direction?
"I will tell you that we are constantly reviewing evidence that is found at the scene and we will, I think, have the opportunity to have some things retested."

A reward fund of $42,000 has been established for the location and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the abduction of the three women.

Anyone with information is asked to call our Crime Stoppers tip line at 869-TIPS (8477), or submit a tip on-line through our Crime Stoppers link or to directly call the police department.