Three Missing Women: The Beginning Of A Mystery
Graduation photo 1992. Jannelle Kirby (a friend of Stacy McCall), McCall and Suzy Streeter
Sherrill Levitt and her sister, Debbie Schwartz during their last visit in May, 1992.
Springfield police investigate the disappearance of Suzie Streeter, Stacy McCall and Sherrill Levitt on Monday June 8, 1992 File photo
A poster for Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall hangs on a telephone pole near the house from which the women disappeared. One of the girl's cars sits in the background. File Photo
With a Missing poster of their daughter, Stacy McCall, in the foreground, Janis and Stuart McCall can only wait on June 9, 1992. File Photo
Springfield police officers gather in the parking lot of what was then the Smitty's grocery store on west Battlefield Road before searching the area for the three missing women on June 13, 1992. File photo
Springfield police officers conduct a search for clues in the disappearance of the three missing women on June 13, 1992. File Photo
A Springfield police officer searches for clues of the three missing women on June 13, 1992. File Photo
Springfield police search Lake Springfield June 12, 1992, for signs of the three missing women. File Photo
Some of the more than 30 officers investigating the disappearance of three women gather for an afternoon police briefing by Springfield Police Chief Terry Knowles on June 10, 1992. File Photo
Springfield police chief Terry Knowles with a replica of the van that may have been used to abduct the three missing women. The van sat in front of the police headquarters for about four months in 1992. File photo
Janis McCall talks about the loss of her daughter, Stacy.
Bob Linder - The News Leader
A bench in the Victims Garden near Phelps Grove Park is dedicated to the three missing women.
Dean Curtis - News Leader
Original Police Report
June 3, 2002
'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
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 hadnt called.
Janelle decided to drive over to Suzies 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 Suzies mom, Janelles 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 Janelles 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.
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 Suzies 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 Suzies room.
Little things caught her attention. Suzies bed covers were pulled back. The room was a little messy, but nothing unusual for a teen-ager.
The womens purses were still in the house, piled up on the steps of Suzies 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 friends house, wondering if Suzie and Stacy had gone there before meeting for the trip to Branson. But their friend Shane hadnt 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 didnt think the women had disappeared. They just didnt know where theyd gone.
Maybe Janis knew.
Let me talk to stacy
When Janis McCall hadnt heard from her daughter by midday that Sunday, she called Janelles house.
Janelles sister answered the phone.
Have they gotten up yet? Janis asked.
The sister explained that Janelle wasnt home, she left with Mike.
Let me talk to Stacy, Janis asked.
She didnt 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, Janelles sister insisted. Stacy went to Suzies house. The Kirby house was crowded with relatives and Stacy and Suzie had decided to Suzies so they could sleep in her new king-size waterbed.
Janis was a little upset that her daughter didnt stay where she had planned to sleep. But she would talk with Stacy about that later.
For the time being, she called Suzies 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 couldnt find Stacy and Suzie.
As the day wore on, Janis voice on Suzies 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 Stacys close friends.
Are you aware Stacys purse and her car and Suzies car is still at Sherrills house but the girls arent? 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 Stacys car home.
I was going to let her look for her car and clothes, Janis says. I thought, That serves you right. You didnt let me know anything and I wont let you know.
Where could she be?
Light was fading from the evening sky and mature trees around Levitts 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 hadnt told her where she was. That wasnt 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 couldnt understand why her daughter had been gone so long. Things werent adding up.
Not only were the purses of all three women inside with car keys and a large sum of money in Sherrills bag but so were some of Stacys 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 Stacys friends was with Janis in the kitchen. They planned to look through Sherrills personal phone book and call friends to see if they had any idea where the women might have gone.
Lets make a pot of coffee, the friend suggested.
Janis thought, I dont want to do that. Whats Sherrill going to say when were 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.
Theres something not right, something is really wrong.
It was time to call police. But not 911, Janis thought. Thats only for emergencies. And thats 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 cops favorite. The calls are exciting. Officers dont have to bother with the traffic. And requests for service arent 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. Theyre 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 hadnt 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 werent 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 Suzies 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 womens purses were all together, Stacys sitting on Suzies overnight bag.
The officer made some notes in his notebook.
The television was left on. The bed wasnt 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, shes in her underwear, Janis answered. On the floor were Stacys flowered shorts, her rings and her watch in the pocket.
Could she have worn some of Suzies clothes to go out? Bookout asked.
No, Janis answered. Stacy wouldnt fit into Suzies 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
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.
Shed leave her house without a lot of things, but a smoker wouldnt leave without her cigarettes and lighter, Bookout says today. Im thinking, Yeah, this probably isnt 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.
Copyright 2003, The Springfield News-Leader, a Gannett company.