(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I’m Todd Matthews. This is Missing Pieces. Tonight we have Barbara Lamacki. Hello, Barbara.
BARBARA LAMACKI (Area Director and Media Representative for Doe Network): Hi, Todd. How are you?
TODD: I think I’ve met you somewhere before. I’m teasing Barbara a little bit. She’s actually one of the area directors for the Doe Network, and she’s the Area Director and Media Representative for Illinois and I think she’s doing a pretty good job there, it seems. And she’s brought this recent case, Karen Schepers’s case; ‘Shee-pers,’ that’s how I think Dale (Karen’s brother) pronounced it, but in the South, I would call it ‘Shep-ers.’
BARBARA: Yeah, it is Sche-pers.
TODD: Okay, now I actually spoke with Dale to some degree. He’s here in Tennessee right now, he’s actually in Campbell County and I’m familiar with that area so it’s pretty interesting, you know, his in-laws are here and that’s really nearby.
BARBARA: Oh, okay.
TODD: So, okay now, I want to talk to you about this case in particular. How did you become aware of the Karen Scheper’s case?
BARBARA: I became aware of Karen’s case when I was searching through some old newspaper archives looking for Illinois missing persons and I kind of keep a running list, and I ran into her, a mention of her in a newspaper article and I could never find a follow-up.
BARBARA: So, after I can’t find a follow-up for a while, then I usually contact law enforcement, and in her case, I did contact law enforcement and they transferred me to Detective Gorcowski, who, as a matter of fact, at just the same time last year, already had the Doe Network form on his desk, getting ready to send it to us.
BARBARA: It was weird. It was very, very eerie.
TODD: It was meant to be. It was meant to be.
BARBARA: I think so. I think it was fate.
TODD: And I talked to Dale and we were talking about doing an age progression for her and I think it’s definitely time, and so what I’m hoping to do is work with you, Dale, Karen’s Mom, Detective Gorcowski, and whichever artist we pick for this, and try to get something that everybody is going to be comfortable with. And I warned them, age progression of somebody from age 23 to age 50, it’s quite a shock. It’s going to be difficult to accept, even if it’s the best of the best, it’s still a difficult process, so hopefully we’ll be able to work on that and put our effort in that and give them something for their 25th (anniversary), and something for her mother.
BARBARA: I think that’s a great idea.
TODD: I think she needs it, you know.
BARBARA: Because for them, Karen is trapped in time, you know.
TODD: Yeah. Yeah.
TODD: It’s definitely a very difficult case. Well, let’s talk about you for a little bit. Now, how did you come to be with the Doe Network?
BARBARA: I’m an Internet searcher. I had just been interested in true crime stories. I have an interest in genealogy and from the inception of the Internet, I was always looking for stuff, and I found a link from an online article about the Doe Network and I probably searched it and looked at it for a year before I decided to put an application in and see if they would accept me.
TODD: It’s not so easy now, you know, to accept people. You know we get a lot of people who apply for memberships to Doe Network, and now things have changed. It was easier, we were so much smaller at the time and it was easier to bring new people in.
BARBARA: Yeah, and I think there’s a good reason for what the change is based on just because of how big it’s grown over the past few years.
BARBARA: And there’s always room, you know, anybody that wants to help, there are always ways to help in other ways. You don’t have to actually be a member of Doe Network to actually go to the site and look at the missing persons and look at the 'unidentifieds' and say, “Hey, I think I know something.” We had a case not that long ago, if you remember…
BARBARA: …about the woman in California that was found by a member of the public?
TODD: And that…I love that, you know, because this was the unintentional thing with the Doe Network, you know, we never really thought that the tips and the solves would be generated from within.
TODD: You know this is guided toward the public for the public, you know, it’s always a great blessing if we can find something through our own research, you know, but it’s definitely geared toward the public so people do not have to actually join and have a membership and be assigned duties. In fact, I get a lot of calls right now and I try to refer them to our normal intake process, or contact the area director, or if I have somebody wanting to help in Illinois, well, you sort of are doing that in Illinois, you know. So, unless you need help or welcome the help or you want to communicate with somebody, it’s kind of hard to find a place for people, because this work is not always…it’s intense, but you can’t give somebody an assignment and just say, “Here, go do this.”
BARBARA: No, you can’t.
TODD: You have to grow into it. In fact, today, I was particularly proud of a connection that we were able to work on together and that’s with you and the ‘Boulder Jane Doe’ case and Silvia Pettem.
BARBARA: Oh, we actually had a great time today, Silvia and I, going through that case, and I don’t know how much help I was, but we did rule out two Katharines. It would have been nicer to rule her in, but it was very interesting.
TODD: And I was really pleased to see that you had an interest, you know, and Silvia, she and I have been working together for quite a while on a few things, mostly generating interest, and the background, the foundation work of how are we going to move this case out to the forefront, and she’s done a lot. I’ve known her for quite a while now and to see you two working together, was really…it really meant a lot to me.
BARBARA: Well, it meant a lot to me too, because she’s a great person.
TODD: Well, I got a nice thank-you note from her, so I was really pleased with that. Okay, well, we’ve talked about just about everything, but now, the Scheper’s case again, you know I was told that you were particularly instrumental in the billboard.
BARBARA: Yeah, I was instrumental in the billboard.
TODD: Now, how do you talk somebody into doing a billboard? Now, that can’t be an easy thing?
BARBARA: You know, I had seen Clear Channel here in Illinois and I’d seen the billboards and they had used them for a couple of different public service purposes over the past year, and I saw them DuPage Johnny Doe, who is the unidentified little boy that we have here, and just before Christmas, we had seen his poster up there. So when I was talking to Detective Gorcowksi about Karen and talking about media and how could we get the word out, it’s been 25 years and nobody knows that she’s missing and she didn’t get any publicity at the time and she hasn’t had any since. And all of a sudden I just could see DuPage Johnny Doe’s picture up there on those billboards and I thought, “Holy cow! I can…who owns those billboards?” So, I went on the Internet, because I’m an Internet searcher, and I found out that Clear Channel owned the billboards and I got an email address and I fired off a letter, you know, saying, “This is who we are and this is what Doe Network does and we have this case and we’ve tried everything to get media,” and could they help me? I’d say that within three days, I had a commitment from the area manager here that he would definitely help us, and that was just so exciting.
TODD: Well, I think it’s helped. I mean, it’s not brought the end of the case for them, but I definitely think that it’s opened some new doors for them and opened a few eyes, and particularly on this anniversary date.
BARBARA: I so hope so. You know I just want someone to look up there and say, “Hey, you know, I knew her,” or, you know, “Someone told me about her.” Or, if foul play did happen to her, I’m hoping that someone just told someone else and they now realize that it’s time to come forward, and just whatever little piece of information they have, even if they don’t really think that it could be helpful, you just never know. I just wanted to jag somebody’s memory about her.
TODD: Well, I told them, speaking from Doe Network’s point of view when I talked to Dale, I said, “I can’t promise you we can resolve this for you, but I can promise you, you’ll be better off with all these wonderful people working together with what we can help you accomplish,” and you’ve already done a great deal.
BARBARA: I just want the family to know that she really isn’t forgotten and it’s not me, it’s everyone at Doe Network, it’s all the members that are out looking for her and searching the Internet and just trying to figure out where she could be and it’s a collaborative effort.
TODD: And the public, the public that are not directly connected to Doe Network, I mean, I think the Doe Network, we are the public basically. I think we’re just a very concentrated, organized effort of the public, but you know, everybody is part of this team, everybody out there that could have a possible connection to any of these cases. We provide contact information for law enforcement on the Doe Network website, you know, that is not forbidden, you’re a member of the public, if you have a tip and you don’t feel comfortable, pass it on to law enforcement, I think we can help expedite that effort for you.
TODD: You know, the personal relationship that area directors have with law enforcement, we can get your tip heard far more quickly than you might be able to provide it on your own.
BARBARA: Absolutely. You know if someone thinks that they know something, and they’re uncomfortable about calling the police for any reason, although they can remain anonymous if they do so, but if they just feel uncomfortable, they can always send it to one of us.
TODD: We can help you do that, if they feel uncomfortable, if they want to be anonymous, we can help them, even in the Schepers’s case. If somebody out there has something, if you can contact any of us, Barbara, anybody, we will help process that data for you, there’s just no doubt about it.
BARBARA: Absolutely, and they can go to the library and get an account anonymously and send it through.
TODD: As long as we get it. That’s what we’re looking for -- the missing piece in this case and hopefully we can find that. I’d like to see it happen in her mother’s lifetime and I know that’s a fear that Dale has, and you’ll see it. The next two segments of this program have been recorded earlier. I did everything backwards because I wanted Barbara to begin it, but I needed their data before I could begin it, so you’ll next hear from her (Karen’s) brother Dale, and then end with Detective Gorcowski, and I think that this is going to help.
BARBARA: I think it’s going to help too, and I’m very grateful to you, Todd, for bringing this out to everyone’s attention and hopefully, you know, we’re going to bring Karen home pretty soon.
TODD: Well, Missing Pieces is definitely a product of my frustration with media at times. Even though the Schepers’s case has had some exposure, and you’ve seen to that, I know that, but like I told Dale, I wasn’t hearing enough from Dale, I wasn’t hearing enough from you, I wasn’t hearing enough from Detective Gorcowski that I think we needed, and everything we’ve said here is not what you would normally read in the newspaper; this is how you all connect to each other, how we all connect to each other, and just gives a different point of view.
TODD: Well, I appreciate you being here and definitely, I think, we’ll have you back again for some type of update on this or another case.
BARBARA: Okay. I’d like that.
TODD: And we’ll do it.
BARBARA: And hopefully we’ll have good news the next time I come back.
TODD: Well, we’ve got a sonar coming up that we’re going to talk about with the brother and Detective Gorcowski in the next part of this episode, and we’re going to discuss that and what we might or might not find. So, stayed tuned, listen in and we’ll see what we hear, what they’re expecting to find, what they’re hoping they’ll find and they’re hoping they won’t find. Well, thank you for being here, Barbara.
BARBARA: Thank you.
TODD: We’re going to move on to Dale Schepers’s now. Thank you for being here.
BARBARA: Thanks. Bye.
This concludes the first part of this episode of Missing Pieces.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 - Interview with Dale Schepers (Brother of missing Karen Schepers)
TODD: I’m Todd Matthews. This is Missing Pieces. Tonight we have Dale Schepers. Welcome, Dale.
DALE SCHEPERS (Brother of missing Karen Schepers): Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me.
TODD: No problem. And you’re actually in Tennessee tonight, at your in-laws’ home in Campbell County.
DALE: Yes. Right. Just outside of La Follette, Tennessee.
TODD: I’m very familiar with that area. It’s really a pretty place over there in the mountains.
DALE: Yes, it is.
TODD: Okay, we want to talk about your sister, Karen. She was last seen alive April 16th, 1983.
TODD: And that’s it. You heard nothing for 25 years?
DALE: Actually there have been a couple of attempts to revive it as a cold case.
DALE: Once, in the late 1980s, and another time in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Once, the Elgin Police actually picked it up, and another time the Illinois State Police assisted with the Elgin Police to try to do a little bit of cold case follow-up. The most positive response we’ve had, or the most positive re-opening, I guess you would call it, would be this time around. Unfortunately for us, it’s marking the 25th year of Karen’s disappearance, but I guess on the fortunate side, we’ve got an excellent detective with the Elgin Police Department, who is really doing an outstanding job, given the circumstances, you know, with the time that has elapsed and so forth, so we’re really grateful for that.
TODD: And I’ve actually interviewed with Brian Gorcowski for this same episode, and I think you’ve got a very dedicated person there.
DALE: Yes, absolutely. It’s too bad that he wasn’t around 25 years ago.
TODD: Now, compared to others, certainly you have to have had somebody in the past that had some promise that you felt like really cared.
DALE: Actually, the first group of people that had some semblance of promise was the governor’s assignment of the Illinois Bureau of Investigation, shortly…well, it was a few months after Karen had disappeared, and my mother was pretty disappointed at the effort that the Elgin Police Department gave this particular case and she appealed to Governor (James R.) Thompson at the time to see if there was something more that could be done, and he actually did assign some investigators with the Illinois Bureau of Investigation, and they did re-interview and do some work that, I think, showed the most promise early on. But, again, that was a number of months after Karen’s disappearance and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get that kind of energy and effort early on because, as everybody knows, with a missing person’s case, you know, the first few hours, the first few days are the most critical, and I don’t think it was handled as well as it could have been in the beginning.
TODD: Well, that was a different time period too. You know I talked to Detective Gorcowski and the technology just wasn’t there; the cell phones, the instant communications. You know I probably would never have heard of this case if it hadn’t been for the Internet, cell phones and communications technology, we wouldn’t even know who Karen is here in Tennessee, probably.
DALE: I’m sure that’s true.
TODD: So, she was born September 20th 1959. She was 23 years old at the time of her disappearance and she’s nearing, probably, her 50th birthday.
DALE: Yes. Yes, that would be this year. Absolutely, yes.
TODD: That’s really scary and her mother, your mother, I saw photographs of her; she’s done a lot of media in times when she’s had to, and I think you’re pretty much the spokesman for the family.
DALE: One could say that. I think it’s just because my Mom is not quite as, I guess, forceful in terms of getting out and saying exactly what’s on her mind. She definitely has the desire and the drive and the passion. I mean, she tells me and I know that it’s true, there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t have, you know, some feelings, some recollection, some thought of some sort as to where on earth could Karen be. I don’t think that there’s a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about her. She really does hold whatever hope is left, very high, and has a very deep desire to get some resolution, you know, whether it’s good or bad, I mean, resolving it is resolving it and I think that’s what’s the most difficult for my mother.
TODD: She has definitely waited patiently, that’s for sure.
DALE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, she’s held on to the only thing that she would consider familiar territory to Karen, that’s the house that we all grew up in…
DALE: …and in the mid-1970s, I guess, it was sold from a 75-acre farm down to about 5 acres, but ever since 1983, one of her desires was to have some place, that if Karen were to come back around, if she is missing somewhere, if she is living somewhere else, and one day decides that she’s going to see what the old home place looks like or something, that that would be something familiar for her and someone familiar for her, since my Mom left the Sycamore area in 1979 up until the time she came back in 2003, one of the family members has lived there. I lived there for 17 years and then my daughter lived there for a number of years until my mother moved back in 2003. It’s one of the few things that we believe she would recognize and be comfortable coming back to, what was the home place and I think, well, I know my mother still holds onto that hope and maybe someday she would decide to come in.
TODD: So, basically, you’ve maintained your childhood home all these years.
DALE: Uh-huh. Yes. Yes, I mean, we haven’t kept her room exactly the way it was because, you know, because she had moved out several years before her disappearance. I mean, she lived there through high school, but soon after high school was done for her in, let’s see, that would have been 1977, you know, she was out on her own for that next five to six years, so it’s not like we kept her room exactly like it was left by her, because obviously it wasn’t left by her, it was used by somebody else in the family because there were eight other siblings…
DALE: …and six of which were younger than her and looking to move into their own room, so to speak, as she went out on her own.
TODD: But home waits for her though, regardless, home is there waiting for her.
DALE: Yes, absolutely.
TODD: Now, Detective Gorcowski also told me that…and I’ve read it in the newspaper and in the report for this show, the sonar search…
TODD: …now, how are you looking forward to this? What are you hopes for this?
DALE: Well, I mean, my hopes are like, I think, all of our family is if there is something that can be found, you know…
DALE: …by any means, is going to be something that we didn’t know before and something that we would look forward to at least having some facts in front of us and maybe resolving this thing after all these years, so it’s kind of a bittersweet thing. You know, it could be that what we find is, you know, we find what is maybe Karen’s final resting place, if you will, that’s the bitter part of it. But the sweet part of it might be that we actually get some resolution to this thing and actually know after 25 years. The most difficult thing is not knowing.
TODD: Now, what about your Mom? Now, I know this has to be scary for you because you’re entering a different part of your life now, but the possibility if this doesn’t happen this time, that you are actually able to recover her remains, the possibility exists that your mother might not live to see the day that you do.
DALE: That’s true. That’s true. I mean, I don’t know, I can’t speak for her, but I know that nobody looks forward to, or even imagines, that they would have to lay one of their children to rest before themselves. I mean, you’re always the parent and you’re always the guiding figure in their lives and helping them and giving advice and those sorts of things and you never think that the role is going to be reversed, that one day you have to lay your child to rest, as opposed to, you know, the reverse is actually the more normal order of things.
TODD: So, if you do not recover her this time, what is your hope for the future? What’s the next direction?
DALE: I think the next direction is just to keep looking where evidence might be. I know that Detective Gorcowski is going to interview everybody that he can locate that was interviewed before and even some others that might have some connection somehow, that maybe weren’t interviewed the first time through, and maybe gather facts of something. We’re hoping for that the lapse of time might be enough to allow somebody to come forward that may have been afraid to come forward earlier, and those sorts of things, so we always hope for that to help resolve things.
TODD: Now, there’s the billboard. You’ve got a billboard with your sister on it.
DALE: Yes, I’ve seen that.
TODD: Now, to just drive past something like that, that’s got to be huge?
DALE: Oh, absolutely. Again, I think the…again, well, we’re in a different time.
DALE: In the l980s, I think the thought was that, you know, people would leave and just come back on their own…
DALE: …so it was, I think, maybe a bit safer world that we lived in. The things that happen today, you know, maybe weren’t so prevalent in the l980s. We were probably a little more trusting as a society in those days, and I think the investigation took that on as the premise and really didn’t shift out of that mode at all during the critical time. One of the most frustrating things for the family was that the Elgin Police would look and interview and draw conclusions, most of which were pretty much, “She’s a big girl. She had a little spat with her boyfriend, perhaps, and took off. She’s cooling off,” that sort of thing. “Don’t worry. She’ll be back. She’ll be back. She’ll be back.” And days went by, months went by, and now, you know, even years have gone by, and that certainly isn’t the case. During the time that we were assisting the Elgin Police Department, in the beginning, all the evidence pointed towards something besides just, you know, an angry…you know, I guess a situation of perhaps anger or disappointment or something like that, that Karen left, was the premise that they had and that just wasn’t the way that she operated. That wasn’t the way that she dealt with things. She didn’t need to run away and cool off. She didn’t need to go somewhere and start over again. I mean, she was the type of person that met things head on and dealt with situations and people and feelings and all that sort of stuff, as they occurred, and we explained that to the officers and the detectives, time and time again, that this is not characteristic of Karen, “You’re looking in the wrong place.” I guess the most disappointing thing that the police department did not even bother to find out enough about who Karen is, or who Karen was, at the time, to even begin to look in the right place.
TODD: That’s one of the biggest complaints that I hear with this type of case.
DALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Without question, I think that that is the biggest deficiency and the biggest fault of the entire investigation from its inception was that. You know, we kept telling them, “That’s not what she would do. That’s not where she would go. That’s not her characteristic. You’re looking in the wrong place. You’ve got to think of this the way that we know that she would think about those things.” And time and time again, their attention was turned towards things that didn’t make sense for her personality.
TODD: But, can you see that sometimes law enforcement do get this, because everybody is going to say the same thing? “My son wouldn’t have done that, no matter what,” and sometimes it’s hard to see when it’s reality, when there’s a family that this is real.
DALE: Right. Right. Yeah, I think that…I think law enforcement does have to balance that…
DALE: …in terms of parents are always going to say, “Well, my daughter would never do that. My son would never do that.”
TODD: Yeah. Always.
DALE: You know, the cops are thinking, “Well, yeah, we’ve heard that one before, but we’ve got to go with the percentages. We’ve got to go with things that make sense to us.” But, at each turn, they said, “You know, what makes the most sense is that she just got mad and left. Now, where would she go?”
TODD: Well, they’ve got to be smart and do the balance, like you said, you have to be smart enough to check that out and realize when it’s just wishful thinking on the family’s part and when it’s reality.
DALE: Yeah, that’s true. And the other part of it too was that the family members that knew her best, were not the ones that they were relying on to ask those questions to get direction with. I mean, they were working the closest with the boyfriend, who informed us later that they’d broken up just before this particular incident. So, they were working with the ex-boyfriend. They were working with the estranged stepmother, you know, the one that actually expressed violence towards Karen a few times in the past, you know, not terribly recent to 1983, but in years prior, she had made some angry remarks and those sorts of things. And her father, married to this stepmother, that basically was kind of in neutral this whole time, and we were supposed to like the stepmother just because she was the stepmother, not necessarily that there was anything to like about her. It was kind of a…it was a difficult thing that the police kept going back to those three people, that weren’t the most knowledgeable, weren’t the most in tune, weren’t the most communicative with Karen, I mean, they weren’t close to her at all.
TODD: Basically, even the relationship they did have was broken or scarred to some degree.
DALE: Yeah. Absolutely, and those were the people that were they were relying on to help give them direction as to where to go.
TODD: Do you see either of those two people as possibly connected?
DALE: To her disappearance?
DALE: I would not…I would not rule out the stepmother or the ex-fiancé, Terry Schultz or Suzette, from either knowing more than they’ve told or doing more than perhaps they admit to have done.
TODD: I mean, you’re not accusing so much as you want to know. It should be explored.
DALE: Right. Exactly. I believe that they knew more about the situation than they ever told, that may have helped figure out where she might be.
TODD: Now, I’m also one of the administrators of the Doe Network and I think you know a friend of mine, Barbara Lamacki?
TODD: Now, I’m going to interview her for this particular episode as well. This is the first time I’ve ever got three separate segments for one episode and so I’ve interviewed three of you, so I hope it’s not too confusing for anybody, but Barbara is next.
TODD: How has she helped you?
DALE: Well, I have yet to talk to her but I know what she’s done for us so far. My wife has actually done some emailing and actually she’s the one that’s really brought this thing back to the forefront here in bringing attention to the case at the 25-year mark and so forth. She actually worked for the Orland Park Police Department for a little while as a part-time civilian clerk actually, and started asking police officers and detectives, “You know, I’ve got this thing going on. I know that my sister-in-law has been gone for 25 years. I want to know how the DNA stuff works. What kind of pieces of evidence may now be able to have new technology, DNA, and so forth applied to them, to maybe get some leads and so forth. I’d really like to know how to approach this.” She was given some guidance and actually through some help from the Orland Park Police Department, she was forwarded to, you know, “Let’s get this thing connected to the Doe Network. Here’s what they can do. Here’s how it needs to happen.” A police department putting together all the information and so forth, is the way that you get the case in the database, you get the exposure, and those sort of things, and she’s the one that really got the energy behind this here for the 25th anniversary.
TODD: And those dates are important. Those anniversary dates, those 25…30-year marks, they’re particularly interesting to the media. That’s what I basically do for the Doe Network, I’m their media director, and often I see cases that I can’t do something with, like this one. You know, I’ve seen media, there’s been a lot of media in this case in particular, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. I wanted something a little deeper so that people could see the reality of it. I could see who Dale was through these articles. I couldn’t see who your mother was through these articles. I needed more and I think you needed more. So that’s why we talked to Detective Gorcowski and decided to try to do it this way.
DALE: Yes, absolutely. And it’s greatly appreciated.
TODD: Well, I hope it helps, we certainly hope it does. I have another question for you; your sister, have you had age progressions done for her?
DALE: Actually, we did, I believe about 10 years ago, in the late ‘90s, when we had more help on a cold case, and we haven’t done that on this recent effort. We’re kind of letting you all make that call in terms of, “Shouldn’t we get that out, that age progression?”
DALE: I think that the technology is a whole lot better today…
TODD: It is.
DALE: …than 10 years ago. Because, actually, when that was done 10 years ago, they basically looked at the picture and said, “Wow, this looks like my aunt Norma, it looks just like her,” and maybe that’s how my sister would look, you know.
TODD: You know, it’s a visual. It’s something that’s good for a 25-year mark and I think that’s what we need for this particular time period; it’s the 25-year anniversary and we need something else. We need another visual and we can provide that for you at no cost; Project EDAN will do that for us.
DALE: That’s great.
TODD: We’ll get a good artist on that and, in fact, we’ll put those wheels in motion today, as a matter of fact, and often it’s hard to get something and we’ll have to work with the family a little bit because we want to get something that you’ll feel comfortable with but also represents reality.
DALE: Okay. Excellent.
TODD: Sometimes it’s a little hard to reach that phase, you know, it’s hard to see a 23-year-old loved one be progressed all the way to 50 years, even if it’s forensically perfect, it’s a shock to the family and often it’s rejected.
DALE: Well, I think that my Mom is going to be the Litmus test on that.
DALE: Whether or not she looks at it and says, “You know, this is what I see in my mind’s eye as Karen today.”
DALE: I think that she would be the one that we would have to work with to get that the way we want it.
TODD: Well, through you, we’ll make this happen.
TODD: Through you, we’ll work with Barbara (Lamacki) and Detective Gorcowski and your Mom, and I think with these four people working together, we can come up with something that will be pleasing to all of you.
DALE: Okay. Very good. I certainly appreciate all your efforts. We did do the DNA swab, my mother and myself, to get…I guess they can mathematically come up with what it’s supposed to be through a mother and a sibling to get a DNA match…
TODD: And it is possible.
DALE: …into the database.
TODD: That is very possible. I’ve seen it. In fact, I know the guy that runs the DNA database and I got to meet with him two or three times now, and it has a lot of promise. It has a lot of promise, but is it going to be fast enough to suit somebody’s needs like your needs, because it is terribly behind and it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort. You know, in the future, it’s going to be a wonderful tool, but for the here and now, you’ve already waited a quarter of a century; I don’t want you to have to wait any longer than you have to.
DALE: That’s true, although, on the other hand, you know, I keep thinking back to, you know, if we’ve waited this long, then a few weeks, a couple of months, it’s still something that’s greatly appreciated. I know if it’s early on and the leads are hot and you need the stuff then there are a lot of folks out there that need the information a lot quicker than we do, not that we are going to say that it’s less important, but I know that there have to be priorities because there are limited resources. But in terms of what that can produce, we’re certainly patient enough to wait and see what comes out of that.
TODD: Yeah, you’ve definitely got to follow the hot leads, you know, viable leads, you have to really follow those and then the cold cases do, unfortunately, come in behind those hot cases, but I think that there is an interest in all of them, I’m sure of that.
DALE: Oh yeah.
TODD: So, in our parting comment, you’re in Campbell County and I’ve actually worked on a couple of bodies from Jane Does from Campbell, so that’s interesting and hopefully you’ll talk to your in-laws about that, I think they’ll remember those. Interesting cases. In fact, we had a positive ID on one of them and that was recently, and we had one that actually had…it was the first case that was reconstructed by Project EDAN. It was a skull from Campbell County and it was reconstructed, and we called her ‘Sally’ for no other reason. Wesley Neville did the reconstruction and she’s still unidentified and we’re hoping to send her home one day.
DALE: Yeah, well, the best of luck to you. I know you’re doing a tremendous job. It’s a sad thing but it’s a necessary thing.
DALE: You know, my mother’s got a lot of pain and a lot of grief over these years that, even if the worse has occurred, that if we can resolve this thing, that will give her at least a little bit of comfort in this life, that we can provide for her.
TODD: Well, you know, a lot of people say closure and I hear and I hear others say that there is no such thing as closure, but at least the end of one phase would be over so you can begin a more proper grieving process of taking it all in because it’s going to take a long time to absorb all that for you as well. You know that.
DALE: Yes. Absolutely.
TODD: Well, I appreciate having you here tonight and we will definitely…I can’t say that we’ll resolve it with all of our efforts but I can say you will be better off than you were before, that’s a guarantee.
DALE: Yeah. And, I mean, we’ve already had some benefit from this. We know that people are giving it their all, you know, that the technology that’s out there is being applied, and that there’s a real 110% effort here that’s going on, and that is greatly appreciated, more than you’ll ever know.
TODD: Well, a lot of different things are going on at a lot of different levels. I want to wish all of our best to your mother, a lot of strength and love to her. I hope we can shorten this time for her.
DALE: Okay, I’ll pass that along.
TODD: All right.
DALE: She’ll be glad to hear that.
TODD: Well, you have a good visit to Tennessee…
TODD: …and I’ll be in touch with you.
DALE: All right. Thank you very much.
TODD: All right. Thanks for being here.
DALE: Now, do you have my cell phone number?
TODD: I have all of your contact information.
TODD: I know where to find you.
DALE: If there is anything, any time, day or night, you call.
TODD: You’ll definitely be hearing from me, especially in regards to the age progression.
DALE: Okay. Very good. Thank you.
TODD: All right-y. Goodnight.
This concludes Part 2 of this episode of Missing Pieces.
Please stay tuned for Part 3 - Interview with Detective Brian Gorcowski.
TODD: And joining us now is Brian Gorcowski. Welcome, Brian.
DETECTIVE BRIAN GORCOWSKI (with the Elgin, Illinois Police Department): Well, how are you today, Todd?
TODD: I’m doing really good. It’s raining where you’re at, I think. I think we’re getting rain everywhere.
DET. GORCOWSKI: It’s raining pretty hard right now, but we’ll make it through it.
TODD: Okay. We’re going to talk to you about the Karen Schepers’s case, and you’ve basically inherited a 25-year-old case.
DET. GORCOWSKI: That is correct.
TODD: Now, how do you even begin with something like that?
DET. GORCOWSKI: Well, you look at everything that was done. You re-read everything all over again, and then you forget about what you learned and you start from the beginning again. We’re on that right now on the case. I inherited it in the Fall of 2007…
DET. GORCOWSKI: …and since then, I’m still trying to get all the reports that, you know, have been generated in the case. The problem is, our agency, the Elgin, Illinois Police Department, were the originally investigative agency, but somewhere over the years, the Illinois State Police picked up the case and worked it so, you know, we have two different agencies that have reports in different central storage facilities. So, I’m trying to acquire all those reports. In the meantime, I’m getting them, I’m reading them, going over again and making a list of everyone that I would wanted to re-interview again, including family, friends and potential people of interest.
TODD: So, you’ve got to re-create the past quarter of a century, and a lot of this is paper trail versus the electronic trail now.
DET. GORCOWSKI: Yes. That is absolutely correct.
TODD: Now, how would this be different if this case was still a cold case but in current days, would the data be a lot easier to get a hold of?
DET. GORCOWSKI: Oh, it would be a lot easier to get a hold of; it’s a much smaller world today with the advent of the Internet, cell phones, GPS units, a lot of tollway authorities track when your car goes through the toll. There are so many different ways to, you know, kind of keep track of people and tabs on people, you know, emails and all kinds of social networking sites that people visit and put stuff on. Back in 1983, if you wanted to talk to your friend who lived in New York, you sent him a letter and maybe they got it in four days, but you never know if they got it or nobody knows if you sent it. Here, going back to ’83, we have no way of knowing, did Karen talk to somebody else? Did she tell somebody something? Did she send a letter? Did something else occur? You know, where was she last pinpointed, because we don’t have a cell phone to look at, so that’s what makes it more difficult from 1983, the technology wasn’t there. When I say it was a much bigger world, it’s because of the technology that we’re so small now.
TODD: Well, there were a lot less bits and pieces back then, as far as things that you could track, but did they do a good job in tracking what they could track back then?
DET. GORCOWSKI: They did do a good job, especially when the Illinois State Police became involved in the case, you know, they went out and they spoke to a lot of key people. I think that they keyed in on a couple people that I have every intention of re-interviewing. One of those persons that was in the group of three or four subjects, unfortunately he’s deceased; he died, I believe, during some illegal activity, in a shoot-out in New Mexico, in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, you know, I can’t interview him, but those other people are still around and I’d like to have a chance at interviewing them at some point.
TODD: But, you know, time’s not on your side, still.
DET. GORCOWSKI: Oh, I understand that, and it’s unfortunate as well that a couple of the people that are, if you will say, persons of interest, you know they’re getting older, a couple of them already have some illnesses and some ailments that I am aware of, and that’s just the ones that I’m aware of.
TODD: But, you know, you have the DNA in the DNA database, so that’s taken care of and that’s an investment in the future. It’s going to take time to render that data through completely, but it is in the works…that’s going.
DET. GORCOWSKI: And that’s one of the first things that I wanted to do, that I noticed that wasn’t done when I went back through the case file, that her information was not in the DNA database, so I wanted to get that done immediately.
TODD: And you’re also planning sonar searches, possibly, for local ponds?
DET. GORCOWSKI: Actually we have a sonar search planned for Tuesday, the 29th of April, we have a sonar search planned.
TODD: Now, is that an expensive task?
DET. GORCOWSKI: No, it’s not expensive, but only because we’re using equipment that our Fire Department currently has and then we’re utilizing equipment that’s going to be loaned to us by Gene Ralston from Idaho, he’s going to be involved in the search as well.
TODD: Now, aside from the search, do you think that…how do you feel about the national exposure? You know, there’s the message board that’s out there and then the big billboard, do you think that they could possibly affect this case?
DET. GORCOWSKI: I do; only because I really, truly believe that in 25 years, somebody knows something, what happened. This family has had no closure. This family has had no explanation as to what happened. I think that it’s somewhat apparent that Karen has met with foul play…
DET. GORCOWSKI: …based upon the circumstances and based upon the family’s feelings and, with that being said, somebody knows something as to what happened to her, and I think 25 years ago, maybe they were threatened, maybe they were scared, maybe they were a different person back then…
DET. GORCOWSKI: …and I think in 25 years, either they have knowledge or involvement, or somebody told somebody over the years something and now maybe that person is willing to come forward because maybe that threat no longer exists to them or, like I said, they’ve changed what kind of person they are.
TODD: Time for a change of heart, definitely.
DET. GORCOWSKI: Absolutely. And 25 years is a long time and the Schepers family just wants to bring Karen home.
TODD: Well, it looks like you’re doing everything that’s in the book that you can possibly do and hopefully we’ll get to check back in with you a little later on down the road and get an update. We’re also interviewing Barbara Lamacki and one of the victim’s family members tonight, so between the three of you, I think we’ll have a pretty good little piece of information to put out there to the public, and we hope it helps.
DET. GORCOWSKI: Well, I do like too, and like I said, I think the national exposure will definitely help because there’s somebody that knows something and it doesn’t mean that person stayed in the Chicagoland area for 25 years.
TODD: Absolutely. That’s (Detective) Brian Gorcowski. Thank you for joining us, Brian.
DET. GORCOWSKI: Thank you, Todd. I appreciate it.
Karen Scheper's Vitals:
Date of Birth: September 20, 1959
Date Missing: April 16,. 1983
Age at Time of Disappearance: 23 years old
Missing From: Carpentersville, Illinois
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 125 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Clothing: Tan corduroy coat with hood
Jewelry: "Wittenauer" watch
Dental: Tooth NB 14 has root canal work.
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