Monday, August 15, 2005

Three Missing Women

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about the crimes that I remembered well from my childhood and teenage years. One case that rocked my hometown in particular was the case of the "3 Missing Women," one of the most talked about cases in the history of Springfield, MO. You may remember it: Sherrill Levitt, her daughter Suzanne Streeter and Streeter's friend Stacy McCall disappeared from Levitt's house on June 7, 1992. Gone, without their cigarettes, without their glasses, without their keys. And nothing has ever turned up.

Through either coincident or simpatico, the moment I went on to Google to research the case, I found that crime-blogging kingpin Steve Huff had just a week before done a profile on the case. Huff's memory of the case shows why it terrified folks nationwide:
I know that writing about it now, when perhaps to some even in Springfield, Missouri, this story is an old nightmare fading fast, I find I am no less aware of the three women's faces, filled with life, captured and suspended on the page. I am no less aware that the reality of their images juxtaposed with the outlines of the mysterious tragedy that must have befallen them still haunts. Still makes me check the porchlight late at night, and sometimes jump at the odd set of 3 a.m. car headlights flashing by.

The emotion in Springfield was far, far beyond this. Springfield, MO, home of John Ashcroft, Brad Pitt and me, still prides itself as a small town no matter how large it gets (around 150,000 in the city proper with a very quickly expanding sprawl). It's the home of the Assemblies of God. It likes to think of itself as a place where "those types of things don't happen." Yet every few years something happens to remind the good folks that it gets its fair share, if not more, of crazies.

I had turned 16 just a week before the women turned up missing. I think you can agree that perhaps no one is more self-directed than a teen who has just gotten their first car. I was as invincible and immortal as I ever would be, and so I probably wasn't as concerned about the situation as I should have been. But it was the topic of conversation in Springfield for the rest of my time there. For a while, it was the topic of everything. Every newspaper, every radio station, every bar room whisper and every rumor-monger's brain cell ... billboards, news programs, flyers ... everything.

And then ... nothing. Huff speaks about the question mark at the heart of every missing persons case. I recently have been reading The Badge, Jack Webb's book on the LAPD, and he had this to say about the cops in charge of the Black Dahlia case:

Nothing, nothing, except to close out false scents and then try to get back on the right one. Sometimes police know their man and yet cannot pin the evidence on him. Sometimes the sense with the hunter's intuition that they are close, very close, and lose him only because he has suddenly died or managed to flee into obscurity, Usually, almost always, they can reconstruct the motive and sex of the killer ... but [in this case] they have never felt like they were anywhere near close.
I do not know, but I suspect that after these thirteen years, this is how the police feel about the three missing women. I have heard the rumors that the three women fled to escape drug debts (certainly false) or murdered by the mob (ditto). This site is willing to make the case against a fellow named Robert Cox. Perhaps, perhaps. And I have heard one rumor, which I hesitate to discuss in public due to the level of detail it gets into, that places the blame on someone known to Streeter (who is the most likely target of the assault). But I do not know. And, I'm sorry to say, at this point I don't think I ever will.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The three missing women came up at least three separate times amongst a gathering of other sprinfield-ites this past weekend. Maybe it was our age at the time, but you're not the only one that still thinks about the three missing women more than would seem appropriate.


11:22 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Just fyi, although "The Badge" is considered authoritative because of Webb's close relationship with the LAPD, his section on the Black Dahlia case is loaded with mistakes.

12:11 PM  
Blogger The Bookhouse Boy said...

Huh. I didn't know that. Did he get the story wrong or is his info just outdated?

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Springfield News Leader did report that Robert Cox believed he would not have gone to prison if the first California woman he abducted "would just have disappeared. I'd still be in the military," he says.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Webb got his facts wrong (hard to believe for Sgt. Joe Friday, yet true) and took some fictional liberties that have since been absorbed as fact.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Kenneth Young said...

My name is Kenneth Young and I am the President and CEO of ThreeMissingWomen.Com.

My website is in reference to the 1992 Three Missing Women case in Springfield, Missouri. We believe we may have found them. Please visit my website for details.

Thank You,

Kenneth Young
President & CEO

3:40 PM  

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