LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It’s been eight years since Ebby Steppach vanished in Little Rock, which has turned into a cold case with national attention.
Steppach’s remains were found in a drainage pipe at Chalamont Park in Little Rock in 2018, three years after her October 2015 disappearance. Her car was found at that same park days after she was reported missing.
Steppach’s mother Laurie Jernigan has become a familiar face for many over the years as she has worked to find answers and justice for her daughter. FOX 16 News interviewed her at Chalamont Park last year on the anniversary and caught up with her again at that same spot this year. It was Jernigan’s first time back since last year’s interview.
She said this year was harder than the one before, for some reason. She said she is reminded constantly that grief is not linear and comes in many stages.
Through the trials and confusion over the last eight years, Jernigan and her family have learned a valuable lesson that they hope others also take notice of when hearing their story.
“God is just a testimony to what he has done with me and my family and the circumstances we’ve been given,” Jernigan said. “If nothing else, you couldn’t look at our life and not know God’s alive. You couldn’t.”
A year after Steppach’s remains were found, Jernigan also lost her son Trevor. He was in his 30s and died of a heart attack. Jernigan said without a doubt, that tragedy was connected to his grief and concern over what happened to his little sister. She said Trevor was the last person who heard from Ebby before her disappearance. Jernigan also spent time in the hospital over the last several years being treated for broken-heart syndrome.
She said while her pain never goes away, she is learning to manage it.
Jernigan said her faith and other factors have kept her going over the last eight years
“My family, my husband and people I don’t know really that have just surrounded us with prayers, and inspiration, and encouragement and, ‘Hey thinking about you,’” she said. “It’s just kind of been the world.”
Jernigan said she is in awe of the stories she hears of how her daughter touched other lives when she was alive and the way she helped others going through struggles she also faced.
“She was for the underdog,” Jernigan said. “She brought so much happiness to people in our lives, but also in other people’s lives.”
Little Rock Police shared a statement on the status of the investigation.
“The Little Rock Police Department is committed to work collectively to resolve all cold cases; more specifically, the Ebby Steppach case,” the statement read. “Our cold case unit is comprised of seasoned investigators who have retired as active members of the Little Rock Police Department. This case remains open, and all new leads will continue to be investigated.”
Jernigan has also hired a private investigator to ramp up the family’s efforts in finding a suspect or any further information that can bring justice.