The Springfield Three

Today, I’m going to be tackling a missing persons case that dates back to 1992, that of the Springfield Three. Not to be confused with the famous West Memphis Three  or the in some ways even more baffling Fort Worth Three (which I do plan on writing about at some point).

This case is fairly well known, probably one of the more well-known ones that I will be covering. It’s one of the few where I actually find myself inundated with information rather than scrabbling for it. It’s also one of the few cases that gives me the flat-out creeps. However, I wanted to take a slightly different approach than the majority of podcast episodes and articles devoted to the case. There is a broad tendency for discussions about the Springfield Three to turn into a catalogue of every sleazebag in the vicinity of Springfield and their criminal histories. While this is important information, and I plan on discussing some of the more relevant sleazebags, I tend to be more interested in the “whats” and “hows”  of true crime cases  than the “whos”. Whos are important, don’t get me wrong. Law enforcement should be especially, even primarily, concerned with whos. However, I think that Springfield Three discussions tend to over-focus on the people who could potentially have committed this crime, without discussing how or why the crime was committed.

It’s rare for three adults to go missing simultaneously (and rarer yet for all three to have names beginning with “S” but we won’t concern ourselves with that at the moment).Yet, this is what happened in the case of a mother, her daughter and another young woman  in the early hours of June 7th, 1992. I have said that this case gives me the creeps, which may seem odd given how much true crime I enthusiastically read through.  It’s not that there aren’t plenty of other cases just as disturbing–it’s the sheer absence of evidence that makes it especially chilling too me. Without further preamble, lets dig into what we know.

June 6th, 1992, was graduation night for Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri. After the ceremonies were concluded, teenagers left to celebrate with their friends and families, many of them into the wee hours of the morning. It was between approximately 2:30 am and 8:00 am on June 7th that 19 year old Suzy Streeter, 18 year old Stacy McCall, and Suzy’s 47 year old mother, Sherrill Levitt, would vanish into what might as well have been thin air (now you see what I mean about the curious abundance of Ss). I should note here that some sources spell Suzy Streeter’s name ending in “ie” instead of “y.

Sherrill Levitt earned her living as a hairdresser. Three months prior to her disappearance, she had moved into a small house on East Delmar street with her daughter, Suzy. Sherrill and Suzy also had a son/brother living in an apartment in town at the time, 29-year old Bart Streeter. Sherrill had been married and divorced twice. She had separated from Bart and Suzy’s father shortly after Suzy was born, and left him in Washington State when she relocated to Missouri.  She also married a man named Don Levitt, but they were divorced in 1989.  At the time of the disappearance, Bart Streeter was struggling with alcohol problems and was estranged from the rest of his family. Suzy, on the other hand, seemed very close with her mother and planned to follow her into the cosmetology field.

Stacy McCall was also a Kickapoo graduate that night, one who planned to attend Missouri State University in the fall. She had been friendly with Suzy Streeter since grade school, as had another mutual friend, Janelle Kirby. The plan that night for all three graduates was to attend a few parties and then drive to nearby Branson, Missouri and go to a water park there the next day. However, as the night wore on, the girls decided it would be better to stay at Janelle’s house for the night and go to Branson the following morning. Stacy McCall called her mother around 10 pm to inform her of this.

Meanwhile, Sherrill Levitt spent the evening at home, varnishing a piece of wooden furniture. She spoke to a friend on the phone, and according to the friend, all seemed normal. Sherrill mentioned that the smell of varnish was overpowering inside the house, and she would have to leave a window open. The conversation ended around 11:15 pm.

It wasn’t until 2 am that Stacy, Janelle, and Suzy decided they had enough and went to Janelle’s house to spend the night. When they arrived, they discovered that Janelle’s house was full of her out-of-state relatives who were in town for her graduation. There wasn’t much room for Stacy and Suzy, so Suzy suggested they go back to her house and sleep on her new waterbed. Stacy agreed, and the two of them left, with Stacy following Suzy’s car in her own. Based on the time they left, they most likely reached the Delmar Street house at 2:15 to 2:30 am.

And that was the last time anyone ever saw them.

The next morning, at around 8:00 am, Janelle called the house to meet up and go to the water park, but got no answer. After she called several times with no response, she and her boyfriend, Mike, drove to the house themselves. Cars belonging to all three women were parked in the driveway, and a porch light was still on but missing its glass cover. The glass cover was broken all over the front steps. Without thinking much of it, Mike swept up the glass and threw it away.

There was no response from inside the house, so eventually Mike and Janelle opened the unlocked front door and went inside the themselves. Sherrill and Suzy’s Yorkshire terrier, Cinnamon, was inside the house (I’ll get into more detail on this in a bit), but no sign of any of the women. Suzy and Stacy appeared to have taken off jewelry in the bathroom, and to have washed the make-up off their faces with washcloths. Suzy’s sunken bedroom, with its waterbed, was a little untidy, but nothing unusual. She still had stacked boxes that had not been unpacked since the move three months before. The bed looked to have been slept in, and, oddly, the purses and wallets belonging to Suzy, Stacy, and Sherrill were lined up at the bottom of the steps. While it might have been reasonable that the two younger women would keep their possessions in that room, there was no obvious reason for Sherrill to put a purse containing a wallet, ID, and cash on the floor of her daughter’s room. It appeared that Sherrill and Suzy–habitual smokers– had also left their cigarettes behind.

Mike and Janelle were puzzled, but not yet alarmed. Ultimately, they decided that the girls must have left without Janelle, and they ended up going to spend the day at a more local water park. Just before they left, the phone range and Janelle answered it. She described a male voice making “obscene” comments, and hung up.

They were not the only ones to visit the house that day. Stacy’s mother, Janis McCall, also came there to look for her daughter after failing to reach her. She too walked through the undisturbed but  empty house. Reportedly, she tried to listen to some of the voicemails on the answering machine but deleted them in the process. One of the these voicemails–another “male voice” would be of interest to the police later on, but no more details could be learned about it. Janis McCall also found Stacy’s clothing, neatly folded in the bedroom, with her necklace tucked in her pocket. Her migraine medication, which she almost always carried with her, was left behind. Based on the clothing that was left in Stacy’s overnight bag and on the floor by the bed, she may only have been wearing a T-shirt and underwear when she left the house.

All in all, up to twenty people visited the Delmer Street residence that day, contaminating the scene by their very presence, before Janis finally contacted police that evening. Janelle, Mike, Janis, and others have gotten a lot of flack over the years for this, and it is rather aggravating to think of what could have been learned about the disappearance if so many people had not gone inside. However, I think it should be pointed out that the house did not have any glaring evidence of being a crime scene. While I think I would have become concerned sooner than anyone did at the time, this was during the early 1990s, before instant communication was common and knowing everyone’s exact whereabouts was expected. The recent high school graduates in particular were, I think, already in the cavalier and spontaneous mindset that accompanies summer vacation, and the fact that Suzy and Stacy were not rigidly adhering to plans might not have seemed that all that strange. Most people at the time paid for smaller purchases in cash, so they might not have thought anything of not taking their whole wallet with them when they went someplace. So I don’t think it’s necessary to attack people who were slow to realize the gravity of the situation, when we are working with hindsight.

The three women were reported missing on the evening of June 7th. During the days and weeks that followed, law enforcement would receive several tips, some of which were taken more seriously than others. Among those that were considered credible was the report from an elderly woman who had been sitting on her front porch around dawn. A green van had turned around in her driveway, and she stated that it was being driven by a young woman who resembled Suzy Streeter, and that this young woman looked as if she had been crying. The woman claimed to have heard a male voice from the interior of the van, telling the driver “not to do anything stupid” and to “just back out.” A similar vehicle was seen that morning in the parking lot of a local grocery store. Investigators searched the house as well as many fields and wooded areas around Springfield, but the three woman seemed to have evaporated like the morning dew.

Most people who study this case describe it as being poorly managed from the start. First, there was the unintentional contamination of the crime scene, hours before it was recognized as such. During the following weeks, law enforcement would invest a great deal of time and energy into the case–but, it is said in Dave Warren’s book, in an oddly “top-down” manner. Rather than focusing on the evidence as it was being discovered, the investigation was directed by those officials with the least first hand information. The Springfield police department even allowed the producers of 48 Hours close access to the ongoing investigation, which disturbed many.

Since the summer of  1992, there have been few known leads about who took Suzy, Sherrill, and Stacy that night, or where they were taken. The evidence described below, recovered at the house and various other points in the area, are all we have to work with at the moment.

The Scene at the House

Images of 1717 E. Delmar, then as now, show a small one story house with a semi-circular driveway, set back from the road and behind trees. At the time of the disappearance, it was noted that this house would not have been very visible from the street. There appears to be a long backyard and some thickly wooded sections behind the house, while a high wooden fence runs along one side of the property, dividing it from what looks to be an alley running behind a series of businesses and strip malls.

There was little besides the broken light cover on the front porch to indicate disturbance. The beds appeared to have been slept in, and, as previously stated, it appeared that Suzy and Stacy had washed off their make-up and taken off jewelry in the bathroom. The purses were at the bottom of the stairs to Suzy’s sunken bedroom, and one of the window blinds in Suzy’s room appeared bent, as though someone had been looking out through the slits. This is often reported as being related to the disappearance, but I should point out that the blinds could have been like that previously.

The TV had been left on, but was showing only static. It has been suggested that there was a tape inside and the VCR that had finished playing. The house smelled strongly of varnish, as Sherrill had stated, although there has never been any other mention of the “open window” other than Sherrill’s statement to her friend.

There was, of course, one witness. Some reports say the terrier, Cinnamon, was “in the house,” implying that she was loose, while others have said the dog was shut in the bathroom when Mike and Janelle entered the house. This seems like a somewhat significant point to me. Unless Sherrill habitually shut the dog in the bathroom at night, putting her in there seems like something she would do if she was letting someone into the house with the intention of speaking to them. It could also indicate that she thought she would be making trips inside and outside the house and didn’t want the dog to slip out the door. Either way, the dog being in the bathroom makes me think that the situation was not immediately forced or threatening, and Sherrill had time to get the dog out of the way. However, with the conflicting reports, its speculative that the terrier was even in the bathroom.

Evidence Recovered Elsewhere

Physical evidence in this case is maddeningly scarce, both at the scene and elsewhere. Despite extensive searches of the fields and woods around Springfield, the following is the most comprehensive survey of potentially related evidence that I can provide.

On August 28th, 1993,  police searched a piece of farmland in Webster County on the basis of a tip. It is not publicly known if anything of significance was uncovered, because the results were sealed. It was only stated that “items” were recovered.

In 2003, investigators acted on another tip, this one involving an old farm south of Cassville. Various types of debris were found, including sections of a green vehicle. It was also reported that cadaver dogs alerted on several points throughout the property.

At an unknown date, a residence in Springfield was searched, yielding a box full of old newspaper clippings about the case and two rings. The rings could not be tested for DNA, as they had been sitting in the box for many years by that point. Now, I should  point out that the girls at least had taken their rings off in the bathroom in the Delmar house, and that some of Stacy’s jewelry was inside the pocket of her shorts. If the rings were directly connected to the three missing women, they would likely had to have been worn by Sherrill Levitt, and she would have been wearing them when she left the house. Still, it’s an unsettling image to say the least.

The Parking Garage Rumor and Kathee Baird’s Investigation

This warrants its own section. To summarize, a journalist named Kathee Baird claimed to have received tips that the woman were buried under concrete in the parking garage of the nearby Cox Hospital.  A man named Rick Norland examined a section of the floor with technology capable of detecting changes in substrate type–a method that has previously been used to find graves. The images captured showed three “anomalies” that Norland said were consistent with past grave sites he examined. I’ve included a video of the this process and the images here: The Springfield Three – Final Resting Place?

Yikes, you would say and I would say. Why on earth aren’t they digging up the area? Well, there are some serious problems with the parking garage theory.

For one thing, actual construction on the parking garage did not start until September of 1993, over a year after the women went missing. If there had been bodies buried in the earth prior to the construction, they would almost certainly have been disturbed during the excavation. Others have expressed skepticism that poured concrete would settle normally with people buried beneath. While the technology has apparently detected graves before, it’s unclear if it was used in conditions similar to the parking garage. When looked at in the light of all known facts, the theory loses a lot of weight.

Baird herself is a bit of a strange character in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate anyone who devotes that much time and energy to an unsolved case. I’m incredibly grateful that people do this.  However, to get an idea of what I mean about Baird, I invite you to watch this three part series on Youtube’s Crime Watch Daily. In the third section, Baird is interviewed about the case, and honestly the whole thing gets a little bizarre. She implies that she’s discovered something big, but won’t say what it is for fear for retaliation. She drops the hint that “there are reasons the case hasn’t been solved,” which seems to imply that law enforcement are covering for something.

Now, the stories about her being threatened may be true. After all, her investigation probably brings her into contact with a lot of unpleasant characters, whether or not any of them were involved in what happened to the Springfield Three. However, her implication that she knows what happened but won’t say so until she can prove it strikes me as suspicious. If this was genuinely the case, she could have sent her information to someone outside of Springfield anonymously, rather than talking about it on national television. So I have to ask if her claims are a way to sustain interest in the case while not admitting that she actually hasn’t discovered anything new.

What about her claims that law enforcement is deliberately hiding something? I’m not usually a proponent of elaborate conspiracy theories, and this one is no exception. If the police are covering for anything, it’s more likely to be mistakes or oversights on their part than actual knowledge of abduction or murder. If Springfield law enforcement wanted to brush the case under the rug, they went about it in a rather ridiculous way. They could have downplayed the case or stalled the investigation or focused all attention on the first plausible suspect, but what happened was nearly the opposite.

Having said all that, it is a fact that the police have some information that they’re keeping under wraps. The evidence recovered at the farm is one example. I think the dismissal of the parking garage theory is due to it being implausible given the timing of the construction, and/or, they have a good idea of what did happen, and they know full well the parking garage was not involved.

To summarize my thoughts on the parking garage, I don’t think there are bodies buried there. Still, Norland did say he saw something that resembled three grave sites under the concrete. Would it be impossible to drill a small hole and lower some sort of sampling probe or camera, if for no other purpose than to eliminate a persistent theory?

Prominent Suspects

As promised, this will not be an exhaustive or even complete list. However, I do want to touch on a few of what might be termed the “usual suspects” of the Springfield Three case. Several other individuals were investigated, including Sherrill’s ex-husbands and even Bart Streeter (during this time, Bart was dealing with alcoholism. For a brief period earlier in 1992, he and his younger sister had shared an apartment, but the arrangement fell apart after the two got into a heated argument sparked by his drinking). They, and several other persons of interest, would be cleared by law enforcement.

Richard Cox (no relationship to Cox Hospital). This is the  name that’s probably most frequently brought up in Springfield Three discussions, and not without reason. He had been convicted of a murder years previously in Florida, but his conviction was later overturned due to lack of DNA evidence. Despite this, there was still compelling evidence of his guilt. He would later be convicted on other charges of kidnapping and robbery, and imprisoned in Texas. In 1992, he was working as an electrician  in Springfield. He was interviewed during the initial investigation, but family members and his girlfriend provided alibis for the night of June 6th and the morning of June 7th. It was even discovered that he had a tenuous connection to Stacy McCall, as he had once worked at the same car dealership as her father while he lived in Springfield. Stacy and her sisters often visited their father, so it is possible that he could have seen her at some point. It was also speculated that he could have used his position as a utility worker to lure the women out of the house by saying there was a gas leak or some other hazard. The thing that is most suspicious about Cox, however, is not his weak connection with the McCalls or even his violent past–it’s that his girlfriend later retracted his alibi for that morning. Initially, she told investigators that the couple had gone to church together, but she later said this was untrue and that Cox had told her to say this. Cox, who is still incarcerated in Texas, has been interviewed since then, and he has displayed a tendency to bring up the case without ever admitting involvement. He has said that the women are dead and the bodies would never be found. He later said that he would tell the truth about what happened, but only after his mother passed away. Cox is one unpleasant fellow, no argument there, but it at this point he has only made vague statements about the case, with no solid evidence of his involvement.

Gerald Carnahan: This is another frequent name that gets mentioned in connection to the case. Generally, Carnahan has considered more of a person of interest who might have some involvement or knowledge rather than a sole and direct participant. In 1992, he was working and operating Diversified Plastics in Nixa, Missouri. Many of his employees were members of the Galloping Goose motorcycle club, which controlled much of the drug trafficking in the region.  In 1993, he was charged with the attempted kidnapping of a young woman, and he spent four years in prison after setting fire to a rival business. After his release in 1997, he went to work for Marine and Diversified Plastics in Springfield. Yet, what most would consider to be his most serious crime–the murder of a woman in 1985–was not discovered until 2007 through DNA testing. He had been a suspect in that crime when it first occurred, but at the time there was nothing to conclusively link him to it. The prime reasons for Carnahan’s status as a person of interest seem to be his propensity for abduction and violence, as well his central role in the criminal activity in the region.

Steven Garrison: Steven Garrison was a person of interest from very early in the investigation, and remains so to this day. His life has been dominated by incessant run-ins with the law–

robbery, drug dealing, assault (sexual and otherwise).  He was active in Galloping Goose Motorcycle Club and had known connections through the club.

He was not in jail at the time of the triple disappearance, but at a later date he found himself in prison on unrelated charges. He told investigators he had information about the case, said that he had “overheard” something about the women being buried on an area of nearby farm land, and then used the meeting as a chance to escape custody. Before being re-arrested, Garrison broke into an apartment and held the young woman living there captive for ten days, subjecting her to sexual assault, before making her give him over $500 dollars in cash and leaving the apartment. Eerily, during this whole time he was meticulous about making the victim remove all traces of him from her body and from the apartment.

One last cryptic note about Garrison: Robert Cox, when being asked to take a lie detector test, is said to have commented “I wonder if they asked Steve the same thing.” Now, it’s possible that Cox never said this, and if he did he could have been referring to someone other than Steven Garrison (although there were no other persons of interest named Steve or Steven). This becomes intriguing, because it is confirmed that Carnahan and Garrison did know each other through the motorcycle club. While there is nothing solidly linking either man to Cox, it leaves the possibility that all three men knew each other.  Now, even if true, this may not mean anything as far as the missing women are concerned. Still, it would be an interesting coincidence to note.

Dustin Recla, Michael Clay, and Joseph Riedel: Dustin Recla was Suzy Streeter’s ex-boyfriend and  Michael and Joseph were friends of his. In March of 1992, Suzy had broken off the relationship with Dustin after the three boys , apparently under the impression that they were characters  in a Flannery O’Conner story, broke into a local mausoleum to steal gold teeth from the skulls. Suzy was most likely not involved in the incident, but she learned of it and told police what happened when they spoke with her. She also recounted the story to her mother, who also spoke with police.  Later on, Sherrill was scheduled to testify against Recla and his friends when they were formally charged with vandalism. The boys were questioned shortly after the disappearance, and while their behavior is not generally recommended for those suspected of triple homicide (at one point, one of the boys stated that he hoped “those bitches” were dead), they are not considered serious suspects. I include them here, because while most people do not think they had any direct involvement, they do tie into a particular theory which will be discussed shortly.

Every Cold Case Needs a Junk Drawer

Before I get too into my own interpretation, I wanted to include a section to serve as a sort of junk drawer. These are factors that may or may not mean anything, but that probably should be brought up more often then they are. One is that Sherrill Levitt and her daughter had only lived in the house on East Delmar for three months when they went missing. Some people have pointed out that someone may have thought that the previous occupants still lived there, or even been under the impression that no one had moved in yet.

Then there’s that lightbulb, or, more accurately, the lightbulb cover. It’s often reported as just being broken on the porch, but Dave Warren points out in his book (which I have linked below), there’s no jagged rim of glass left in the socket. It didn’t just break. It is possible that it was loose and fell off when the door was shut, but it is also possible that someone unscrewed it.  The lightbulb itself was still intact and lit. One possible interpretation of this is that someone came to the front door of the house while it was still dark enough that they needed light to see, but they wanted to make some kind of noise to lure one of the residents to the door.

I touched on this already above, but I think that knowing whether or not the dog was shut in the bathroom or not could be an important detail. Like so much else about this case, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know. It’s possible that Sherrill let someone into the house and put Cinnamon in the bathroom so he wouldn’t be in the way, indicating that she knew the person or that there was some pretext of legitimacy on the person’s part. It’s also possible that it was one of the many people who entered the house on June 7th that put the dog in the bathroom so he wouldn’t interfere with the searching the house or get outside. If the dog was loose in the house when Mike and Janelle entered, that’s more indicative of a speedy or forced exit from the house.

It’s also worth pointing out that the original plan for that night was that Sherrill would be alone in the house while Suzy and her friends went to Branson. This has led some to speculate, not unreasonably, that Sherrill was the primary target. For this to be true, the person or persons behind the disappearance would have had to have some way of knowing the girls’ graduation party plans. Some have gone as far as to theorize that the perpetrator already had Sherrill under control in her bedroom when Suzy and Stacy arrived. While I can definitely accept the “Sherrill as main target” theory, I doubt the scenario played out this way. If someone heard the girls enter, why would they do nothing while they took off their make-up and got ready for bed? It seems like they would have either quickly killed Sherrill and fled the scene, or moved to control the girls immediately. So I think it is most likely that the entire attack occurred after Suzy and Stacy entered the home and went to bed.

I credit Dave Warren with the last point I will include here. He points out that, due to her recent relationship with Dustin Recla, Suzy Streeter was peripherally connected to some of Springfield’s drug dealers. Recla, Clay, and Riedel were known drug users and petty criminals, and they were connected to dealers in the Galloping Goose Motorcycle club through a fourth mutual friend, Mike Kovacs.  Also, Sherrill was set to testify against the boys at a later date. So it’s not implausible that this gave someone a motive to harm Sherrill and/or Suzy. Discussions of the case often use the graduation ceremony as the starting point and leave out the prior events, but I think they are  worth serious consideration.

My Thoughts

This case is kind of a beach ball, for lack of a better analogy. There’s a lot to discuss, but at the core it’s almost empty. Ultimately, those who study this case are left with very few solid leads to work  with.  There are a lot of details that I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about. One is the “obscene” phone calls. On one hand, they might be entirely unrelated. As previously discussed, Janelle Kirby was not initially suspicious of the scene, and this didn’t change after the phone call. Indirectly, this indicates that there was nothing that unusual about crank calls, especially right after graduation. If there was something more behind that phone call, this would indicate that whoever was making them knew the house number and, since it would have been difficult to observe the house from the street, most likely had been calling it periodically to see if anyone entered and discovered the women’s absence.

While I’m mostly dismissive of the van sighting in the store parking lot (someone forcibly abducted three people, then went grocery shopping?), the  alleged sighting of Suzy Streeter driving the van is harder to dismiss. The woman reported the incident after the disappearances were known, so it’s plausible that this biased her memory. It’s never been clear how close the woman was to the vehicle that turned around in her driveway, or how much she could see with clarity. Still, I think we do have to consider the possibility that an abductor was forcing Suzy Streeter or one of the other women to drive somewhere in that van. It should also be noted that there were sections of a greenish vehicle on the property that was searched in 2003.

Here’s what we either know or can reasonably assume. Suzy and Stacy left Janelle’s house and went to Suzy’s, where Sherrill may or may not still have been awake. The girls had time to wash off their makeup and get ready for bed. At some point after they had lain down in the waterbed and before Janelle Kirby called the next day at 8:00, one or more people forced or lured all three women out of the house.

I lean away from this being a simple crime of opportunity, or an abduction/murder committed just for thrills. If that was the only motive, easier opportunities abounded all over town as inebriated high school graduates stumbled through the night. There was really no reason to enter a house with three cars parked in front of it and take the risk of controlling three people instead of one. This does not mean it could not have happened, of course, but it makes more sense to me that the house  and/or its residents was deliberately targeted.  I find it most plausible that Sherrill and/or  Suzy were the intended targets of the attack, and that Stacy was taken simply because she was in the house at the time. She was not usually at the East Delmar house, and she had made the decision to go there at the last minute. Among even the most devoted stalkers, few are that efficient, and most wait for a better opportunity to attack their target.

If the evidence at the scene can be trusted, a certain amount of calculation went into the attack. The shattered light cover may have been used as a lure. There were not obvious signs of disturbance within the house, and it appears as if someone told or forced Sherrill Levitt to set her purse wallet besides Suzy’s and Stacy’s at the bottom of the bedroom steps. I’m uncertain as to why this was–maybe an attacker wanted to verify Sherrill’s identity, or  wanted to make sure she didn’t bring any identifying pieces with her. There’s really not a lot to indicate a person in the grip of a violent rage or some kind of personal anger towards the victims. It that was the priority, the assaults could have been committed right there inside the house, especially of more than one attacker was present. The whole scene actually indicates something more methodical. Although I find it entirely possible that the attacker(s) may have used to the opportunity to sexually assault one or more of the woman , or to commit robbery at the house, I think the attack itself stemmed from other motives.

I also tend to lean towards an initial ruse used to gain entry to the house followed by forcing all three women to exit and get in a vehicle. The reason I don’t fully buy into the “gas leak ruse” theory is that 1.) they left the dog inside the house when it would have been easy to grab her, and 2.) Stacy McCall was most likely wearing only a T-shirt and her underwear when she left. It’s entirely possible she could have borrowed a pair of Suzy’s sweatpants or something, but why would she do this when her shorts were right next to the bed? It seems unlikely that she would exit the house half-dressed in front of a stranger unless she was forced to.

 While Recla and his friends may not have had the sophistication to orchestrate a triple abduction, they were connected to people who did have the motive, means, and opportunity to eliminate a potential threat to their operations. Garrison and Carnahan were connected with the local motorcycle club, which was known to protect its hold on the illicit market from rivals and law enforcement.  Cox was also a known drug user at the time and may have had connections with the group as well. Sherrill was ultimately going to testify against Recla, Clay, and Riedel, which may have ultimately led back to their drug suppliers (even though the grave robbing was probably unrelated to the drugs). Suzy, too, might have been known to have “ratted on” the boys and in that way exposed herself to someone higher up in the criminal food chain. Furthermore, all three of the above named men have at various points shown themselves willing and able to use violence–and violence against women–for fun and/or profit. This does not mean any of those three had to be involved, or that the scenario that Warren outlines must be 100% accurate. Yet, at this moment, I find the theory that something like this happened to be the most compelling.

 And, as ever, it’s possible that I’m completely wrong.

This is one of the older cases that I’ve studied and one of the less likely to be solved. However, I that does not dissuade me in the least from writing and talking about it. The only person who has made consistent statements about knowing the truth is David Cox, and he’s not exactly the most upright guy. It’s entirely possible that he has no plans to reveal the truth or that he never knew anything to begin with, and is simply toying with law enforcement. I still think there is a chance, though small, that the remains of one more of the victims will be recovered, which would at least give us a definitive Point B to 1717 East Delmar’s Point A. Regardless, the Springfield Three is a very sad and unsettling case, and I would be interested in discussing it if anyone has any input or alternative theories.

Best wishes, L.R.


Streeter Family Blog, run by Bart Streeter:

The book by Dave Warren:

This reddit discussion is one of the more complete write-ups about the case, and contains links to other sources as well.

There’s even a subreddit about the case, albeit not a very active one:

Good Article!

Here’s another reddit post that contains links to a 5-part article. It’s a older one, but a great read. There doesn’t seem to be a way to link directly to the entire article, but the post contains links to all five sections.

2 responses to “The Springfield Three”

  1. I have watched this case on several different shows. It’s heartbreaking. My theory is that the ex boyfriend Dustin and his friend abducted them. Since they were already busted for breaking into cemetery crypts, they may have had the idea that an old crypt is the perfect place to hide bodies. This is my theory on what happened. I sure hope it isn’t the truth and the women make it home someday.


    1. That’s an interesting thought, and not outside the realm of possibility. I would hope that local crypts would be a place that law enforcement would search in a missing persons case, but then you have to take into consideration just how thorough the searches were, or the possibility that the bodies were transported to a crypt or mausoleum outside of the immediate area. The whole thing is just unsettling.


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