The Bizarre, Tragic Disappearance of the Springfield Three

By Stephanie Weber

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Graduating high school is an exciting time for most American teens and their families. But for two Springfield, Missouri teenagers and one teen’s mother, high school graduation marked a shocking end. Suzanne Streeter, Stacy McCall, and Sherrill Levitt disappeared shortly after Suzanne and Stacy’s graduation day and have never been found.

The year was 1992, and Suzanne “Suzie” Streeter, 19, and her friend Stacy McCall, 18, had just graduated from Kickapoo High School on June 6. They were celebrating with their friends, bouncing from graduation party to graduation party. Suzie and Stacy eventually decided to go to Suzie’s house–which she shared with her mother, Sherrill–for the night.

Sherrill Levitt was 47, and worked as a cosmetologist. Her night had been relatively quiet. She had been on the phone with a friend, discussing painting an armoire, at around 11:15 P.M.

Considering all of Suzie and Stacy’s belongings were later found at Sherrill’s house–purses, clothes, cigarettes, makeup, etc.–it is assumed that they did, indeed, make it to the home. Their cars were also in the driveway. The next morning, however, when friends arrived at the Levitt house, neither Suzie, Stacy, or Sherrill were anywhere to be found.

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Stacy and Suzie at graduation. Photo: Via J.H. Moncrieff

The graduates all planned to go to Whitewater waterpark together the next day, so the teens’ friend Janelle Kirby called the Levitt house at 8:00 A.M. on June 7. There was no answer. Janelle and her boyfriend decided to go over to the house around noon, to see if the girls had left for the waterpark without them. As they approached the house, they could see the porch light was broken. They swept up the glass, thinking they were being helpful; in actuality there were unknowingly contaminating a crime scene.

The front door was unlocked, giving Janelle and her boyfriend the feeling that something might be wrong. Upon entering the home, though, they noticed everything was intact, with no signs of a struggle. The cars were all parked in the driveway, but Suzie, Stacy, and Sherrill were nowhere to be found.

Just before Janelle and her boyfriend were about to leave, the home phone rang. Janelle answered. The caller didn’t identify himself, but began making lewd sexual comments, so Janelle hung up, assuming it was a prank call. She and her boyfriend left the home.

Stacy’s mom Janis McCall was the next visitor. She decided to call on her daughter in person, since she hadn’t heard from her since the night before. She saw that the door to the house was unlocked, and she entered. Upon inspection of the home, she found that her daughter’s underwear and T-shirt were missing, but the rest of her clothes were neatly folded. There was evidence in the bathroom to suggest the girls had taken off their makeup from the night before. Janis also noticed the purses of all three women lined up outside Suzie’s room, which she found odd. The television was on, and Janis said she saw a voicemail on the machine, but she accidentally deleted it: presumably when trying to listen to it.

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Photo: Courtesy of Missouri Police Department

More than 16 hours after the women were last seen, Stacy’s parents finally contacted the police about their missing daughter. Because of this, many friends and family members visited the house before the police had a chance to investigate. With the crime scene completely contaminated, there was only so much the authorities could do.

The first suspect was Sherrill’s son Bartt Streeter, who had previously fought with his mother and sister about his drinking problem. After providing authorities with an alibi, however, Bartt was ruled out as a suspect. Authorities also suspected Suzie’s ex-boyfriend Dustin Recla. Dustin and his friend Michael Clay were already on the authorities’ radar, having once been caught vandalizing local cemeteries. Suzie had given a statement to police implicating the boys for stealing corpses’ gold teeth and selling them. Michael Clay even said he wished death on the missing women. Dustin and Michael cooperated with the police, however, and were ruled out as suspects.

Finally, a promising lead came to light in the form of Robert Craig Cox. He was a trained army ranger who had been arrested and convicted in Florida for the murder of Sharon Zellers, but it was overruled due to lack of evidence. In 1985, Cox was convicted of two different abduction attempts, and served nine years in prison. He was acquitted because the judge determined the evidence only gave the suspicion of guilt rather than proof of guilt. He was paroled in 1992, and sent to live with his parents in Springfield, Missouri, putting him in the right place at the right time to have potentially been involved with the disappearance of the Springfield Three.

Cox worked as an electrician, which many have speculated would be an excellent ruse to enter a home. Police also discovered that Cox had previously worked with Stacy’s father at his car lot. Cox’s girlfriend had corroborated his alibi at the time of the crime; years later, however, she recanted her statement. She claimed that Cox told her to lie if cops ever asked where they were that fateful June weekend.

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Robert Craig Cox. Photo: The Crime Scene

Cox toyed with police while in jail for a different crime, saying he knew the women were dead and, furthermore, that he knew where they were buried. As Cox was a notorious attention-seeker, the authorities were unsure whether or not Cox was just lying about his involvement to keep himself in the limelight. While Cox was the most promising suspect, authorities had no concrete evidence with which to convict him. Eventually, the case went cold.

Investigating the case of the Springfield Three has led to nothing but dead ends and frustration. Theories about what happened to the women that night range from satanic cult activity to human trafficking. At one point, investigators received a tip that the women were buried in the foundation of the south parking garage at a local hospital–though they did not believe this “tip” to be credible enough to justify tearing up the concrete.

What really happened on that fateful night back in 1992? Was it an abduction, planned in advance? Was it perpetrated by just one person? Did the women leave willingly, as there were no obvious signs of a struggle? All of these questions continue to gnaw at authorities, and heavy on surviving family members. Despite approximately 5,000 tips over the years, the case remains unsolved.

In 1997, the police declared the three women legally dead. Still, the case has not yet been closed, so any information that you do have is still welcome by the police.

[Via: News-Leader; J.H. Moncrieff; Springfield Police Department; Wikipedia; News-Leader]

Feature photo: Wikimedia Commons