LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Remains found in a West Little Rock park Tuesday have been identified as a teenager who disappeared two and a half years ago.
The Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) confirmed Wednesday evening the human remains found in a drainage pipe in Chalamont Park are those of Ebby Steppach, a Little Rock teenager reported missing nearly three years ago when she was 18.
On Thursday, Ebby’s parents, Laurie and Michael Steppach, issued this statement:
“Her death is being investigated as a homicide. We have nor will have no more comments on her case at this time.”
THE DISCOVERY OF HUMAN REMAINS
Cold Case investigators discovered the remains Tuesday inside a drainage pipe, nearly 50 feet from Steppach’s memorial, that runs parallel to the park underground.
The drainage pipe has a manhole cover, which is near the area where Steppach’s car was found shortly after she disappeared in October, 2015.
“We used robots with video cameras that we are able to send in the drains, eventually started from the top of the drain where her car was found and we hit obstructions 70 feet down,” said Little Rock Police Cold Case Detective Tommy Hudson, in a video released Wednesday evening by the department.
Detective Hudson said the obstructions were not human remains and did not say if the obstructions found are now pieces of evidence.
Steppach’s family released a statement Wednesday evening after they were notified of the Arkansas State Crime Lab results.
On Tuesday, May 22nd, investigators with the Little Rock Police Department informed the family that human remains had been found at Chalamont Park, which is where Ebby’s car was found on October 30, 2015.
As of today, May 23rd, investigators conclusively identified the remains as Ebby’s and notified the family of those results.
The family would like to thank all of you who have supported efforts to find Ebby. It has been through your support, many prayers and God’s strength that they have been able to make this journey. God hears and answers all prayers. Yesterday, God answered the family’s prayers to find Ebby.
They are thankful for the life they got to share with her and ask for continued support and prayers as they work through this difficult time. Please only post comments that remain positive and have a focus toward healing.
The family is grateful to Little Rock Cold Case Detective, Tommy Hudson and members of the Cold Case Unit, as well as Captain Russell King and Chief Wayne Bewley, special agents and analysts with the Little Rock Field Office of the FBI for the time, effort and contributions dedicated to Ebby’s case. They also ask for prayers of gratitude, strength and guidance for this group of individuals as they continue to work on this case.
In addition, the family would like to thank H.A.L.O. Investigations as well as special local private investigators, Monty Vickers and Tom James.
Ebby’s story over the past 30+ months has touched many lives. Many have seen the beauty in her eyes that revealed a deep passion and care for others. So, it is only fitting that the search to find Ebby has sparked open conversations and brought a heightened awareness to missing children and young adults, the existence of sex trafficking, along with the need for improved policies and processes within the law enforcement community in these areas. Her story has touched many in ways that she could not have ever imagined.
A Celebration of Ebby’s Life will be held at Christ Community Church, at Warrior Hall on the campus of Little Rock Christian Academy, Saturday, May 26th at 2 pm. and will be officiated by Pastor Tim Lundy and Music Pastor, Ron Marrow. The family asks that you join them in this celebration of Ebby’s Life.
May God Bless You All!
Click here to visit the Official: Find Ebby Steppach Facebook page.
Late Wednesday evening, people could be seen visiting the memorial which was created shortly after Steppach disappeared.
“I come down here every once in awhile to just pray. I said a few prayers and I have a lucky dollar coin that I put down there,” says Emily Hester, a friend of Steppach’s.
A Celebration of Ebby’s Life will be held at Christ Community Church, at Warrior Hall on the campus of Little Rock Christian Academy, Saturday, May 26 at 2 pm. and will be officiated by Pastor Tim Lundy and Music Pastor, Ron Marrow. The family asks that you join them in this celebration of Steppach’s Life.
Click here to read Ebby’s obituary.
The case involving Steppach’s disappearance has run into issues along the way.
In May of 2017, Steppach’s parents Michael and Laurie Jernigan said LRPD made crucial investigative mistakes in some of the most critical hours of the investigation.
“The whole first 30 days was just counting on Ebby showing back up,” said Michael.
At one point, Ebby Steppach was labeled a runaway case.
Her mother refused to let that become the narrative.
This is from April 2016. #EbbySteppach #ARNews pic.twitter.com/ZnhCRjwHi3— Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) May 24, 2018
Ebby’s mother and step-father say a security guard reported her car at Chalamont Park but LRPD didn’t check on the tip for several days.
“The department itself, when the call came in on three different occasions that week, did not recognize and connect that this car belonged to a missing person,” Michael said.
“Didn’t put it together that this was a crime scene,” Laurie said.
Ebby’s parents say the car had a dead battery and was out of gas.
The Central High School student’s cell phone, makeup, keys and eye contacts were left behind.
The case which was originally assigned to Violent Crimes was moved to Little Rock’s Homicide Squad — a group of the city’s most experienced detectives.
“The detective that was assigned to it at that time was one of our newer detectives,” said Hudson, originally a Homicide Detective now working in the Cold Case squad.
LRPD is not calling Steppach’s case a homicide yet but Hudson said one year ago in an exclusive interview with FOX 16’s Mitch McCoy the case had the potential of being a homicide.
LRPD ASKING FOR HELP
If you know anything regarding Steppach’s death, you are asked to call LRPD at (501) 404-3128. Authorities say all tips are anonymous.
Stay with FOX 16 News both on-air and online for continuing coverage.