Editor’s note: The following is the fourth installment in a series about the disappearance of 21-year-old Veronica Blumhorst, who vanished Sept. 20, 1990, after finishing her shift at a Mendota, Illinois, grocery store. Her car was found in her garage less than a mile away. It is believed she had only $10 on her when she vanished.
By Jim Hagerty
MENDOTA – While the likelihood that a person has met with foul play increases the longer he or she has been missing, it’s not necessarily the rule.
In the case of Veronica Blumhorst, there’s still no evidence that she’s been harmed. Her car was parked in her garage, and police found no signs of a struggle. That left investigators to list the 21-year-old clerk as a missing person until something showed them otherwise. Even indirectly incriminating statements made by her boyfriend failed to produce anything to connect him to a crime scene.
By his own admission, her last known suitor was one of the last people to see her. They were together before she started her shift at Dempsey’s Super Valu and spoke on the phone before she punched out. He remembered Sept. 19, 1990, in great detail. Foggy was whether he was with her in the early hours of Sept. 20, they had an argument and he “hurt her.” That, he said just three days after his girlfriend vanished, slipped his mind, likely because of an old head injury that still messed with his memory. It was a motorcycle crash his freshman year of high school, he told police. As a result, he used “memory tapes” to help him recall things.
Although he was described as an “odd loner,” witnesses, including Veronica’s parents, told police her boyfriend’s behavior changed after she went missing. At least two people reported he was intensely interested in the investigation, so much so that he camped out on the Blumhorsts’ couch and was answering their telephone, something that left Paul Blumhorst uneasy.
Things got even more intense when Veronica’s boyfriend followed a female colleague home and forced a conversation about his suspected involvement in the case. Throughout what the co-worker described as a cross examination, the man, for the first time, used a word nobody, not even the police, had uttered to anyone: murder.
“He adamantly defended why he wouldn’t be involved, which a lot of us thought was extremely ironic,” the witness said, “because before anyone was even aware of the fact he would have been considered (a suspect), he started defending himself. He kept stating his primary defense when he would say, ‘I don’t know why anyone would think I would have anything to do with her disappearance or murder,’ which we thought was odd. Nobody was talking about a murder at the time. It was a disappearance. He would say, ‘I loved her and we were meant to be together forever and ever.’ We thought (that) was kind of creepy because they hadn’t been dating that long.”
Veronica’s parents told police she had been dating the man for approximately six months. It was a serious relationship, Paul Blumhorst said. There was no engagement but to his knowledge they had discussed marriage. One of Veronica’s co-workers at Super Valu, however, recalled something different about the romance.
“(The co-worker) stated that she did not think Veronica wanted to get married,” Mendota Police Investigator John Pakenham said in a report. “She never talked about (her current boyfriend). She thought Veronica was still wanting to date and go out with a (man from Brooklyn, Illinois). He had broken up with Veronica. Veronica always talked about (the man from Brooklyn) when she was dating him. She never talked about (her current boyfriend).”
While Veronica was reserved about her recent love interest at work, she was quite candid with the woman he followed home. She was afraid of him at times. The same woman also heard details from Veronica’s boyfriend she did nothing to solicit, things most couples keep to themselves.
“I remember one specific incident where he really kind of turned my stomach,” she said. “He said, ‘We had an interesting night last night. We took a bath together and we got very clean.’ He just talked about it for like an hour. After awhile, I tuned him out and said, ‘I don’t want to hear about this. I told him, ‘I don’t want to hear about your sex life.'”
‘If he couldn’t have her, nobody could.’
Aside from oscillating between theories of how he may have played a role in the disappearance of Veronica Blumhorst, her boyfriend presented another scenario that is all too common in jilted trysts. Police should be looking for an ex-lover who decided he wanted her back, his newspaper colleague said.
“‘If he couldn’t have her, nobody could,'” she said. “That was his theory.”
He also postulated that Veronica, who was adopted, reached out to her birth parents and possibly met her end.
“He thought that it was somehow connected that maybe she found her real parents and they were bad people,” she added. “Those were his two main theories.”
Police spoke to least three former beaus. Each man cooperated with investigators and had a solid alibi. One of her exes spoke to Veronica a month before she disappeared and did not notice a change in her demeanor. Two men passed polygraphs.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Veronica Blumhorst is urged to contact the Mendota Police Department at 815-539-9331 and firstname.lastname@example.org.