Editor’s note: The following is the 13th 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
MENDOTA – There isn’t a cold case out there that’s void of theories and rumors, and the case of Veronica Blumhorst is certainly no exception.
Before social media, tales of what happened to the grocery clerk circulated around Mendota the old fashioned way–by word of mouth. At first, speculation stayed in the small town, among circles close to the family and those who took bits of leaked information and spun them into more detailed yarn.
Over the years, it’s been said Veronica’s body was destroyed in a large bonfire, that she was buried under a freshly paved driveway, even that she’d been snatched by a serial killer or sacrificed as part of a devil-worshiping ritual. With the exception of that latter, almost all theories have been connected to the case’s biggest rumor, one that her boyfriend killed her during an argument and slipped off into the Midwestern night, taunting police with his uncanny ability to make someone disappear without a trace.
It didn’t help matters when investigators re-opened the case in 2004 and released the police report to the victim’s family. Ripe with supplemental information about Veronica’s boyfriend, the report, when it hit the streets, helped retry the man in a court of public opinion given 16 more years to deliberate and uphold the verdict reached the first time around. Clinging to that verdict, some members of the Facebook group “Remember Veronica Jill Blumhorst” now say they have no time for “rumors” but seem to forget that the boyfriend theory is the biggest one of them all.
The theory, supported largely by the paraphrased words of a likely scared 22-year-old man who made Veronica happy and was liked by her family, remains just that–a theory. But it’s more than that. Since the boyfriend spoke to police and allegedly said he may have “lost my mind” and hurt her because he thought she was pregnant, factions of Mendota have been unwilling to accept anything else, not even things supported by solid findings.
A recent report Facebook members have difficulty with is that Veronica may have been secretly seeing a married man around the time she vanished. It’s “far-fetched,” one person commented. Another group member said she’s tired of recent reports altogether.
“All these articles have done has (sic) spread gossip,” the commenter said. “Veronica (was) already a victim once why keep doing this to her and to y’all.”
Blumhorst family spokesman Doug Truckenbrod said information about the secret beau originates from trusted sources, members of his team who are investigating the case from behind the scenes and have made connections police failed to make. The team has also delved into the boyfriend theory and discovered what the police report has been screaming for 29 years: There’s no evidence that Veronica’s boyfriend had anything to do with her disappearance. It, therefore, is the rumor Facebook members should be most concerned about.
“Sometimes things are said that may make some people uncomfortable,” Truckenbrod said. “But we’re not here to calm emotions or give anyone warm, fuzzy feelings. We’re here to solve this 29-year-old case.”
Solving the case means going wherever the investigation leads, he added. And over the last several months, it has moved away from the cookie-cutter aspects of the boyfriend theory into other areas altogether.
Not only has nothing been uncovered to indicate her boyfriend killed her, not one thing indicates she fell victim to a crime of any kind. There is evidence though that Veronica kept certain things about her personal life private and that they may have contributed to her disappearance. And for some close to the case, that has been hard to hear.
“It has been difficult to say these things because they may hurt some feelings,” Truckenbrod said. “But they also put us closer to an end. Things are happening at a rapid pace.”
While the police report has fueled most of the boyfriend theory, it was also bolstered by psychic readings that originated inside the Blumhorst home after Veronica vanished. Her boyfriend was present during one of those readings and was reportedly the source of uneasiness during the session.
“(The psychic) got a bad feeling about (him),” Todd Blumhorst said in 2011. “Something told her, Veronica’s spirit maybe, that everyone in the room was good accept (her boyfriend). She pulled us aside and said he should be looked at because he’s bad.”
Another reading gave the family a route on which Veronica was reportedly taken when she left the alley on Sept. 20, 1990. With the psychic leading the way, a car meandered through Mendota, past what is now a hospital and continued to a bridge and two creeks near Sublette, Illinois, near Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve. It is there Todd Blumhorst was certain his older sister was taken the night she vanished.
“The psychic told us Veronica was saying, ‘I’m here,’ ‘I’m here,'” he said. “She said she was in the water.”
Although a cadaver dog team Todd hired to search the nature preserve hit on several spots, nothing was found during a 2014 dig. Handlers also said the dogs may have alerted on Indian remains that could be 300 years old. And because there is no real evidence Veronica was brought to the preserve and because Todd died in 2013, the effort was abandoned.
Truckenbrod does plan to canvas an area just west of the nature preserve this spring. The search was planned after a woman claimed she was given a broken gun to discard in 1992 and a source told The Times Veronica may have been shot and dumped there. Planned for March, the search will also include areas in Mendota.
Meanwhile, the disappearance of Veronica Blumhorst is still an open mission person’s investigation.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Veronica Blumhorst is urged to contact the Mendota Police Department at 815-539-9331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been updated to clarify that no signs of Veronica were found during a 2014 search at Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve near Sublette, Illinois.