By Jim Hagerty
MENDOTA – A citizen-led search for Veronica Blumhorst will be conducted early next year, her family announced Tuesday.
“Since 1990, we have held onto hope that we would find out what happened to Veronica so we could finally have closure of what has been a horrible chapter in our lives,” Blumhorst family spokesman Doug Truckenbrod said. “However, it’s been 29 years and investigators are no closer to finding her than they were when they completed their initial report.”
Truckenbrod, who grew up on the same street as the Blumhorsts and now lives out of state, says the new search will be next spring, near the Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve, where police did minor digging in 2014 and found nothing.
Tuesday’s announcement comes a week after a source contacted The Rock River Times and said had investigators continued digging west of the nature preserve, they would have likely uncovered important evidence and possibly the skeletal remains of Veronica Blumhorst.
Blumhorst disappeared Sept. 20, 1990, after leaving work at a local grocery store. Her car was found in her garage less than a mile away, suggesting she left with someone she knew. Rescue teams and dozens of volunteers spent the day searching for her but found no signs of the 21-year-old.
Although police have never officially named him a suspect, Veronica’s boyfriend was questioned but stopped talking to police after hiring an attorney. Before obtaining counsel, he gave a series of odd statements, telling investigators he couldn’t remember if he was responsible for Veronica’s disappearance and that he may have harmed her during an argument. He also reportedly failed a polygraph. Police searched his property and came up empty handed.
The Mendota Police Department reopened the case in 2004 and spoke to several people who recalled the days surrounding Veronica’s disappearance and the relationship she had with her boyfriend but found nothing to link someone to a crime.
“Although we are thankful that police reopened the investigation in 2004 and were able to gain further insight, we are still without anything concrete,” Truckenbrod said. “That is why we have continued to investigate Veronica’s disappearance using outside resources that have recently pointed us in what we believe is the right direction.”
Truckenbrod said he trusts new information that suggests that in the early hours of Sept. 20, 1990, Veronica was strangled, possibly shot, wrapped in a tarp and dumped over the west side of a metal bridge on Knox Road.
Under the bridge runs Big Bureau Creek, an 73-mile Illinois River tributary that winds along private farmland, about 8 miles north of Mendota, where the new search will be focussed. Weather permitting, it could happen as early as March.
“We are asking for the same support we received the morning of Sept. 20, 1990, when we learned Veronica was missing and dozens of people helped search the surrounding area,” Truckenbrod said.
A date of the search will be announced on the Remember Veronica Blumhorst Facebook page. Those wishing to participate may contact Truckenbrod through the page.