The Veronica Blumhorst Case, Part 7: A broken, rusty gun

Editor’s note: The following is the seventh 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 and it is believed she had only $10 on her when she vanished. 

By Jim Hagerty
Reporter

MENDOTA – In 29 years, investigators have uncovered nothing to indicate 21-year-old grocery clerk Veronica Blumhorst was met with foul play when she disappeared Sept. 20, 1990.

There was no signs of a struggle near her car. And while police collected DNA from some of her personal items, they’ve had nothing to compare it with. Her work smock, coat, boyfriend’s class ring, diamond stud earrings, things she wore to work on Sept. 19, have never been found. A video she rented and planned to watch the next day is also missing.

Over the years, those close to the case have speculated that anyone found with any of those items would have some serious explaining to do. Because nobody has officially been in frame, the case has remained at square one–until last week, when an anonymous source who’s part of an independent investigation told The Times there is reason to believe Veronica was strangled, possibly shot and dumped in an Illinois River tributary near the town of Sublette, Illinois.

More details emerged Tuesday, when the source said for the last five years, he’s been looking for a handgun that may have been involved in Veronica’s disappearance. It doesn’t end there though. There’s at least three people with possible links to the firearm. But tracking those people down has been been anything but quick work.

A gun, or hazy tale?

On its face, a rusty handgun is usually just another firearm, one carelessly rendered inoperable and discarded by its owner. It happens often. On the other hand, it may raise a red flag when someone gives another person a broken gun and the second person dumps it in a creek in the same town where Veronica Blumhorst went missing two years earlier. According to The Times’ source, he was met with such a red flag in June when he located a woman on his list of possible gun links.

Able to arrange a meeting with the woman, the source knew he was looking for a black, rusty handgun, possibly a Ruger, and that he would eventually inquire whether she knew anything about one. Instead, he kept the details and the question close and went at it with a softer approach. But things soon took an unexpected turn.

“We were talking about the case in general, about what each other remembered about it,” he said. “Then, somewhat out of nowhere, this person brought up the pistol on her own accord, described it, and showed me where she threw it.”

The source would not reveal the location where he says the gun was dumped, only that it was discarded in 1992 in a place different than where Veronica’s body was likely placed. The woman also could not recall who gave her the firearm or why. The meeting was fruitful though, helping him tie up an end that’s been loose since 2015, at least for now.

“I learned about the possibility of a gun and who may have knowledge of it four years before I found (the woman),”  the source said. “And one of the first things she did when we met was give me a description of a gun I have been looking for.”

Police have been notified about the mystery firearm but could not be reached for comment. As of this report, it has not been found. And as long as Veronica is missing, whether she’d been shot will likely also remain a mystery.

Meantime, a Blumhorst family spokesman announced Tuesday that a citizen-led search for clues will take place next spring near Knox Road and Big Bureau Creek, about eight miles north of Mendota. Weather permitting, the search could happen as early as March.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Veronica Blumhorst is urged to contact the Mendota Police Department at 815-539-9331 and mendotapd@mendotapolice.com.

This story has been updated.

 

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