Springfield 3 - Three women missing in Missouri
On June 7, 1992, Stacy McCall, Suzanne ‘Suzie’ Streeter, and Suzie's mother Sherrill Levitt vanished from Levitt’s home in an area of the 1700 block of E. Delmar Street in Springfield, Missouri. The three women’s disappearances have haunted the families and remained a mystery for two decades.
Sherrill Williams-Levitt would have turned 47 years old on November 1, following her disappearance. Her daughter, Suzie had just turned 19 years old on March 9, prior to her disappearance. Stacy McCall had just turned 18 on April 23, 1992. All have been missing 20 years.
Best Friends Missing
Stacy and Suzie had just graduated from Kickapoo High School on Saturday, June 6, 1992. The two young women had been at a graduation party at another friend’s home at approximately 2:00am on June 7. Initially the pair had planned to spend the night at a hotel, then at a friend’s home in Battlefield but left because the house was crowded with out of town guests. They departed in their own separate vehicles and headed to Suzie’s home to spend the night with her mother Sherrill. It is believed the two young women arrived at Sherrill’s home at approximately 2:15am and had planned to go to White Water Amusement Park the following afternoon. After Suzie and Stacy arrived at the residence, the trail follows twists and turns into darkness of the unknown.
The last contact Sherrill had with anyone was at approximately 11:15pm on the evening of June 6, 1992, when she had talked to a friend about refinishing and painting a dresser. Sherrill had been a single mother, described as being very close to her daughter and a successful hairdresser at a local salon.
The following afternoon, friends went to Sherrill’s home to meet Suzie and Stacy as planned, then head to the amusement park but no one answered the door. The friends observed the women’s vehicles parked in the driveway and noticed the porch light still illuminated but the glass globe covering the bulb had been broken and there was shattered glass on the front porch. The friends cleaned up the glass on the porch and proceeded to enter the home through the unlocked front door, not realizing they were entering a crime scene.
Confusion sets in
At first, friends thought maybe the women had gone for a walk. Later that day when the three women failed to arrive back at the home, a friend called Stacy’s mother, Janis McCall. Janis had not known Stacy had spent the night at Suzie’s home thinking she would be staying in Battlefield overnight. Stacy had last talked to her mother the night before when she called at about 10:30pm on June 6, informing Janis she would be staying in Battlefield. After receiving the call from one of the girl's friends that had been to the home, Stacy’s mother went to Sherrill’s home and later called police to report the three missing.
When investigators arrived, they did not observe any sign of foul play or a struggle within the home. In fact, all of the women’s personal belongings including keys, makeup, purses, and clothing, were still inside the residence. The family dog, a Yorkie named Cinnamon, was anxiously running around inside the home and police noted the blinds inside the home were apart as if someone had been peeking through looking outside during the night. It appeared Sherrill had been in bed watching television, her glasses, and book on the nightstand, and cigarettes along with her lighter still in the home. Aside from the shattered globe on the porch, the glass discarded before it was determined it could have been a key piece of evidence, no additional evidence was found at the home that indicated foul play. Several searches of the surrounding area turned up nothing. It seemed like the three women had simply vaporized.
Following the women’s disappearances, police followed up on leads, interviewed individuals who had attended the party the previous evening, as well as relatives, friends, even boyfriends. One witness reported seeing a green Dodge van in the area but police were unable to identify the vehicle or owner. Several callers provided tips indicating the women may be buried at a local hospital parking structure prior to a concrete pour. Even Suzie’s older brother, Bart Streeter, has remained on the list of suspects.
The story appeared on several national TV shows including Unsolved Mysteries, 48 Hours and America’s Most Wanted (AMW). A male tipster called into AMW on New Year’s Eve in 1993 but disconnected when the operator attempted to patch the call through to Springfield Police Department. Investigators believe the individual had intimate knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the three women’s disappearance.
A possible lead
Early on, Robert Craig Cox was a person of interest in the case. Cox had served time in Florida on death row for the murder of 19-year-old Sharon Zellers. The Florida Supreme Court later over-turned the conviction due to insufficient evidence tying him to the scene. Cox was arrested again in California for a kidnapping that had occurred in 1985. After his release, Cox returned to his hometown of Springfield, Missouri after serving time in connection to the kidnapping. Janis McCall told news reporters she had knowledge Cox had been working on underground cable near Sherrill’s home at the time of the three women’s disappearances.
Leaving Missouri, Cox traveled to Texas where police interrogated him about a kidnapping in Plano, Texas. Eventually, Cox was arrested in Texas and sentenced to a Texas prison for aggravated robbery. While incarcerated in Texas, Cox told a grand jury in 1994, he had been with his girlfriend the evening the women disappeared. Despite the girlfriend later coming forward and recanting her initial story, corroborating Cox’s claims in 1995, the grand jury disbands in January 1995. Later Robert Keyes, a Springfield New Leader reporter claims Cox told him he knew the women were murdered, buried in Springfield and would never be found. Cox remains in prison and not eligible for release until 2025. An estimated 5,200 leads later – nothing.
Will they dig?
Former Springfield Sergeant Mark Webb who reportedly provided information to Kathee Baird, a crime reporter at the Ozark Sentinel, that brought to light what some feel could be the key to solving the case.
In 2002, law enforcement received a tip that led back to the unidentified green van spotted in the area of Levitt’s home the evening the women vanished. The caller indicated two men who had been working for a local concrete company at the time the women disappeared drove a green van. The caller told police the two men buried the women’s bodies on a farm in Webster County. After a two-week search of the property, items found at the scene and results of the search warrant were sealed.
Kathee Baird, took personal interest in the case and began an independent investigation that led her to a parking garage at Cox South Hospital that had been under construction in 1992. The hospital is only five minutes from Suzi and Sherrill’s home. Now Chief of Bolivar Police Department, Mark Webb confirmed during his time as lead investigator at Springfield Police tips were in fact received early on directing them to the hospital-parking garage but not thought to be credible.
Baird contacted Rick Norland in 2006, and asked if he would assist by scouring the area with ground penetrating radar. Norland is an expert who assisted New York City authorities following the atrocities of September 11, 2001. Norland reported to AOL news he did in fact find three anomalies that are consistent with grave-sites approximately 3 feet below the surface of the concrete. Norland recommended that a core sample be obtained from the area by drilling a hole to submerge a camera or device and positively determine what the anomalies are.
Despite Baird and Norland sharing findings and recommendations with police, a spokesperson for Springfield Police said it was not worth the thousands of dollars it would take to verify. Baird then offered to cover the cost to drill a core sample but the police spokesperson responded their own expert had concluded Norland’s findings were not credible. Experts in the field of ground penetration disagree with the police spokesperson and agree instead with Norland’s findings.
When asked if an independent team would be permitted to access the area to obtain a core sample, media relations at the hospital issued an email indicating this was an issue for the Springfield Police but would cooperate with the investigation.Even if the parking garage is not the final resting place of the three missing women, one must ask how the cost of coring an area of concrete could possibly be more of a concern that providing an answer to a family waiting 20-years for any information to end a nightmare most cannot even begin to comprehend.
Mother's nightmare continues for decades
Stacy’s mother, Janis McCall has never given up hope she will find her daughter alive. Like other parents who search for their missing child, giving up hope is not an option. Following her daughter’s disappearance, Janis founded One Missing Link, a nonprofit organization that helps other families search for their missing loved ones.
Recalling the last time she saw her daughter, Janis said, “The last thing I said to Stacy was that I love her, thank goodness!” Janis said Stacy said she loved them and promised to call later. After the graduation they had taken pictures and had asked Stacy if she wanted to eat her graduation cake but Stacy declined and said, “Don’t cut it until I get back tomorrow!”
When a loved one is missing, family members suffer incredible turmoil in the aftermath of the disappearance. They replay the last time they saw their loved one, what they could have said, what they should have said. Is their loved one suffering? Are they injured and in a hospital? Is someone keeping them? Do they need rescue? The mind takes on a life of its own constantly revisiting their last minutes of contact. Experts agree ambiguous loss is the most traumatic psychological experience a person can endure while existing in what seems a never-ending life of limbo.
In the meantime, this incredibly courageous mother with the strength of an entire lion pride continues searching for her beloved daughter. To Janis, if there is even a small chance her daughter Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter and Sherrill Levitt are still alive, giving up is never an option.
Janis told Discovery ID, “If there is one tenth, one hundredth of one percent of a chance I can find her – I want that - I want to find her. I want her to know how very much she means to us.” One can look into this mother’s eyes and never fully comprehend what the last twenty years has been like.
When I asked Janis if there was anything she wished she would have said to Stacy the last night she saw her, Janis says, “I wish I had told her she couldn't go anywhere that night but that is a little unrealistic. If I had only known what I know now.”
The Springfield Three on "Disappeared"
© 2013 Kym L Pasqualini