Ebby Steppach was last seen on October 24, 2015, almost two years ago. When I started reading extensively about her case, I found out there has been a lot of conflicting information put out there and it was hard to find a media source that was consistent.
To be clear, this is far from a teen runaway case. When Ebby went missing in Little Rock, Arkansas, her car was found abandoned by Chalamont Park with her crucial belongings (including cell phone, keys, and contact lenses) still inside.
WHERE WAS HER VEHICLE FOUND?
I have seen different accounts of where her car (a 2003 silver Volkswagen Passat) was found on October 30, 2015. I am a bit befuddled. Her mother is quoted as saying that there is a Wal-mart across the street from where she was found and that police never reviewed security footage. There isn’t a Wal-mart across from Chalamont Park from what I can tell on Maps. The Wal-mart is set back off from the main road, so I don’t understand what kind of footage would be available.
This is a quote from her mother:
I have also seen MSM accounts that say her car was found at the intersection of Chenal Parkway and Cantrell Road, which means that her car would be near a Wal-mart, but then why would a security guard from the park report the car abandoned? As far as I can tell, Chalamont Park is completely in a residential neighborhood that backs up against a high school.
Chalamont does have trail cameras or security cameras. There is a report that there is a surveillance image on a road in the park that caught Ebby’s Passat, but police are not saying if she was alone.
Maybe someone can clarify this for me? Was there another sighting of Ebby in the area of the Wal-mart?
EARLY MISTAKES IN THE INVESTIGATION
Unfortunately, there were alleged mistakes made in Ebby’s case in the crucial early stages of the investigation:
- Her car was reported as abandoned by a security guard at the park, but the tip wasn’t followed up on for several days, after which police failed to make the connection to Ebby Steppach’s missing persons case.
- The police didn’t investigate Ebby’s social media, of which she was an avid user of Snapchat and other social media which may have provided clues as to who she was with on the day she was last seen. You will see how crucial this could have been when you read about the events of the weekend before she went missing.
- There is some confusion as to how much/from where security footage was obtained. There seems to be some footage of the vehicle (see above) but I am unsure how much was reviewed and it hasn’t been released.
DARK MATTER: THE WEEKEND BEFORE SHE WENT MISSING
(Trigger warning: sexual assault)
Most of the information online about Ebby Steppach doesn’t contain the information I found here, which paints a disturbing picture about the last few days before Ebby disappeared. I don’t want to say everything in the article is 100% verified, however, there are video interviews of her parents which back up the statements.
According to Crime Watch Daily, Ebby was sexually assaulted– and filmed on his phone– by an unnamed male at a party the weekend she went missing. From the article:
The next morning Ebby sends a frightening text message to her friend Gage Fulton. Gage read the text out loud on a phone call to private investigator Monty Vickers, who recorded the conversation.
“I was hanging with some dudes last night and we smoked and I had sex with one of them and he [—-]ing recorded me dude, like when I wasn’t looking.”
Videotaped during a sexual encounter — Ebby doesn’t tell Gage who did it. But he tells Vickers that she is horrified and confused.
Vickers: “Did she tell you that she was raped?”
Fulton: “She said she felt forced into it. Her last text message to me is ‘I am going to go kill myself.'”
Ebby’s stepfather said the Ebby planned to report the incident to the police and went missing two days later.
There are also details about her last call to her brother:
“She answered and he said ‘Where are you?’ And she said ‘I’m out in front of your house,'” said Laurie Jernigan [Ebby’s mom]. “So he hung up and says cool and he goes out there and she’s not there. So he calls her back. She answers and she says she’s messed up and he said ‘Where are you?’ And she said ‘I’m in my car,’ and he said ‘Where is your car?’ And she said ‘I don’t know,’ and hung up. And that’s the last time anyone’s talked to her.”
THE SECURITY GUARD
The security guard who reported the car abandoned also says he has information. He claims he saw Ebby with two African-American men in the park the night she went missing. He identified the men in pictures of known sex traffickers that Crime Watch Daily provided. I won’t include their names here, as they aren’t charged with anything in this case.
The story seems a bit too convenient in my mind. He happened to remember seeing her? I’m not from the area and haven’t been there, but wouldn’t there be numerous people there every day? It seems like a large city park. How does he remember it so vividly? The interview with him was conducted this year, so about a year and a half after Ebby went missing.
You know the old adage that eyewitnesses are usually wrong? Okay, I made that up, but that’s my adage. But they are often unreliable. I don’t think that people should place two much weight on his story.
WAS IT SEX TRAFFICKING?
No one is quite sure how rare sex trafficking is, since many (If not most) cases go undetected. Ebby is in the right age range to be targeted. However, I don’t think it is the first conclusion people should jump to. I haven’t seen any evidence to support this theory. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any evidence; if there is, it hasn’t been released to the public.
Of course, it is possible – anything is- but someone in Ebby’s circle or at the party would have potentially known the traffickers, as there is no evidence a stranger abducted her.
It sounds like someone had a motive — the person who recorded the assault on his iPhone. If word got to him that Ebby was planning to report him, he may have harmed her.
- Met with foul play by the security guard. The scenario: a ‘messed up’ Ebby parks in the park, wanders alone (remember, she told her brother she didn’t know where her car is), and security guard discovers her.
- Met with foul play by the assaulter (or several) at the party. If word got back to him (from Ebby or someone else) that she was planning to report him, he could have committed foul play to protect himself potential criminal charges.
- Suicide. Ebby did text one of her friends that she wanted to die after the assault at the party (see quote above). Is it possible Ebby parked her car in the park, wandered into it and harmed herself? To note: the park was thoroughly searched in October of 2016 and no evidence of suicide was found that I am aware of.
- Drug-induced disorientation and wandering. Ebby’s brother said she sounded disoriented during his last phone call with her and claimed she was ‘messed up.’ I have no evidence to suggest that Ebby used any other drugs besides marijuana (verified by her mother here). However, if Ebby was under the influence of a drug, she could have wandered unknowingly into danger– either geological danger like a body of water or foul play.
- Sex trafficking. This seems to be the theory, according to the Ebby Facebook page, that the family is most convinced of. Although I haven’t found any evidence of it, it is of course a possibility and could explain her disappearance.
— Ebitha (@ejsteppach) October 18, 2015
It is really devastating that Ebby’s case wasn’t investigated thoroughly from the beginning. Some important evidence may have been lost.
However, I still think it is solvable and moving in the right direction. From my understanding, the detectives currently handling the case are qualified and making strides in solving it. It sounds like there are new possible leads. It also sounds like LE is holding some information from the public, which means that they may have made more progress than the media has reported.
* Update: Ebby’s remains were found in a drainage pipe in the park where her car was found on May 24, 2018. Rest In Peace.