Will Ebby Steppach ever get justice after police botched her case?

Ebby Steppach, 18, of Little Rock, Arkansas mysteriously vanished on October 24, 2015. Days before her disappearance, Ebby accused 4 men of raping her at a party and filming it. Throughout the evening, cell phone records showed Ebby sent text messages to men she had implicated in her rape, threatening to go to the police if they didn’t delete the video.

The last known contact she had on October 25 was with her older brother, Trevor. She was lost and told him she was “fucked up.”

Ebby was featured on Dr. Phil with Corinna Slusser

On October 27, Ebby’s abandoned car was discovered in Chalamont Park in Little Rock. Searches of the woods around the park were undertaken, but no sign of Ebby was found.

She remained a missing person for nearly three years before her body was discovered in a drainage pipe in the immediate vicinity of her car in May 2018.

It was determined she had been there since her car was found three years prior. Her remains were missed in all the searches.

Ebby’s death has been classified as a homicide and her killer(s) is/are still unknown.

Timeline:

  • Summer 2015 – Ebby begins working at Footlocker, which her parents believe is “when they started losing her.”
  • Fall 2015 – Ebby begins her senior year of high school at a new public school after having gone to private school her entire life. Wanting more privacy, she moved out of her parents home and in with her older brother, but she spent a lot of time at her friends’ and grandparents’ homes, as well.

    Her parents were concerned over Ebby’s abrupt change in behavior. They even went as far to say, they didn’t know “this Ebby.”
  • October 20, 2015 – The week before Ebby disappears, she stays with a friend from her former school, Danielle Westbrook. She sends a Snapchat message to Danielle saying, “Hey, I know this is a lot to ask, but is there anyway your mom would let me stay the night?”
Ebby and Danielle

“I think she kind of thought of our house as kind of a safe place,” Danielle said in an interview. Danielle explained she tried to warn Ebby that the new friends she was making didn’t seem like the best crowd.

I was like, ‘Ebby that’s not safe, don’t do that. Ebby, that’s not a good position, don’t put yourself in that.’ But then kind of that week, I stopped putting such a huge emphasis on it.

Just when I thought she had it down, you know, she didn’t.

Danielle Westbrook, friend of Ebby

  • October 21, 2015 – Ebby misses school. She was supposed to drop Danielle off that morning but Danielle was running late from a doctor’s appointment.

    Danielle texted Ebby: “Hey, if I’m going to make you late to school, you can go on. Paula (Danielle’s guardian) said you can feel free to eat anything and make yourself at home.
    Ebby replied: “No, it’s not a big deal at all, I swear. I really didn’t want to go anyways because there’s all that drama.”

    Danielle didn’t know what drama Ebby was talking about.
  • October 23, 2015 – Ebby attends a party at some point that evening. Danielle stays home because she didn’t know anyone.

    At this party, Ebby says she was sexually assaulted by four men who videotaped it.

    “She went out that Friday night and the things that happened changed her. It blindsided us,” her stepfather, Michael, said in an interview.
  • October 24 2015 – Ebby told her father she wanted to report the incident and asked if he would go with her. They agreed to meet later that evening.

    That same day, Ebby told Danielle she needed to stop by her brother’s house because he hadn’t seen her and was worried. The rest of that afternoon, Ebby stayed at her grandparents’ house watching SpongeBob SquarePants before getting frozen yogurt with them.

    When they got back, around 8pm, she told her grandparents she needed to go meet her stepfather. After saying she loved them, she told them,

I’ll be back, don’t lock the door. I’ll be back to spend the night.

Ebby’s final words to her grandparents

But that was the last time her grandparents ever saw her.

Even though her grandparents were the last family to see her, they weren’t interviewed for a year and a half after she disappeared.

Her stepfather thinks at this point Ebby tried to track down the men to acquire the video of her rape in an attempt to regain her independence.

Ebby’s cellphone records indicate she made two calls to police that night, each about a minute long, but strangely Little Rock Police say they have no record of her calls.

A private investigator hired by Ebby’s family, Monty Vickers, said her text records indicate she sent several messages to the men she accused threatening to go to the police.

Her phone records also indicate she stopped opening messages that night – a major red flag.

  • October 25, 2015 – Trevor, Ebby’s older brother, received a call from her. He said she sounded panicked. She told him she was in her car in front of his house. He hung up and went to meet her.

    She wasn’t outside.

    He called back and asked where she was. She said she was with her car but didn’t know where or who she was with.

    “I’m fucked up,” she told him before the phone disconnected.

That was the last time anyone heard from her.

How police dropped the ball:

When her family tried to report her missing, they were told they needed to wait 12 hours for her to be considered missing.

  • October 28, 2015 – A security guard at Chalamont Park, a neighborhood pool and playground, called to report an abandoned car parked by the woods.
  • October 30, 2015 – Police arrive to investigate the car, (two days later?) confirming it belonged to Ebby. It was out of gas, the battery was dead, and her keys were still in the ignition. Her phone, wallet and contact lenses were all inside the car.

When Vickers contacted the security guard who found the car several months later, he said it was the first anyone had contacted him about it. Law enforcement never reached out to him.

The security guard explained that Ebby met a man there on multiple occasions. He had footage of it on his dashboard camera, but had since lost the recordings.

When Ebby’s parents recieved her car back from Little Rock Police, the interior and many of her personal belongings were water damaged due to the trunk being left open during a storm by police. Her stepfather meticulously photographed the inside of the car and her belongings, just in case.

Vickers tried to contact the police for three months to offer assistance with the investigation, but his calls and emails went without reply. He initially hesitated to take the case, but once he saw the shotty investigation – he knew he had to do something and began tracking Ebby’s final movements.

He started by searching areas around the accused men’s homes, ditches, the woods and other areas that someone could dump a body.

For 8 months, Little Rock Police treated Ebby as a runaway, doing little to nothing to find her. Finally, her case was transferred to the homicide unit who were appalled with way the case was handled.

Ebby’s mother said Little Rock Police refused to check which tower Ebby’s phone pinged off when she made the final call to her brother. They said they couldn’t due to a lack of resources.

After Ebby’s family wrote letters to the governor begging for help, the FBI voluntarily got involved, but crucial evidence had already been lost.

When the FBI got involved it became clear how badly her case had been treated and that’s when things moved in a different direction.

Laurie, Ebby’s mother

Ebby’s case is now in the hands of Tommy Hudson, a retired Little Rock detective who works on only a handful of older cases. Laurie’s family also hired TJ Ward, an Atlanta based P.I. who worked the case of Natalee Holloway.


Per a 2017 report, the men Steppach had accused of sexual assault had all spoken to police, though no formal searches of their cell phones were done for the alleged video of Steppach’s rape.

December 2017 – In an attempt to bring publicity to her case, Steppach’s mother and brother Trevor appeared on Dr. Phil. The Steppach family offered a reward of $50,000 with information leading to their daughter’s discovery.

May 22, 2018 – Around 10 a.m., while performing another search of Chalamont Park, police discovered skeletal remains in a drainage pipe in the vicinity where Steppach’s car had been discovered. These remains were subsequently confirmed to be those of Steppach.

Chalamont Park

Margie Foley, a family friend and mother of one of Steppach’s best friends, claimed that she had smelled decomposition while doing a private search of the area and alerted the authorities. Upon the arrival of police, Foley claimed she was “kind of dismissed” by the officers,” who told her the park had been searched with recovery canines who would have picked up on the scent of human decomposition, and assured her it “must be an animal or something.”

The drainage pipe Ebby was found in

April 2019 – Ebby’s older brother, Trevor, dies from a massive heart attack at just 35 years old.

The first 2 ½ years with Ebby it was a long time before I could grieve because I was fighting and Trevor happened instantly with no signs.

You go to Walgreens and you see Mother’s Day cards and you think I only have one child out of three left. My daughter, she doesn’t have any siblings anymore. My grandson has lost his dad. That’s what we think about every day.

Ebby’s mother, Laurie Jernigan

May 22, 2019 – 1 year since Ebby’s remains were recovered.

“I didn’t realize it had been a year,”

Ebby’s mother, Laurie Jernigan, in an interview

Detectives remain tight-lipped about the case and have not revealed how Steppach died, only classifying it as a homicide.

Tommy Hudson with the Little Rock police’s Cold Case Unit said the case is considered an open homicide investigation. He also said the medical examiner has determined a preliminary cause of death. But that information will not be released, to avoid jeopardizing the case.

If you have any information regarding the murder of Ebby Steppach, please contact the Little Rock Police department

501-404-3128 Investigator Tommy Hudson (email: thudson@littlerock.gov) 501-371-4829 Little Rock PD Non-emergency number
501-371-4636 Little Rock PD Public Information Officer

Sources:
Ebby Steppach case still open, preliminary cause of death determined but won’t be released
One year later | The search for justice for Ebby continues
Days after Ebby Steppach disappeared, police shrugged off pipe odor, caller says

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One thought on “Will Ebby Steppach ever get justice after police botched her case?

  1. Classic small town law enforcement incompetence. It is a shame, because the culprits seem pretty obvious. Tragic all the way around.

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