Crime Watch Daily investigates the mysterious disappearance of 'the Springfield Three'
Solve This Crime 10/17/2017 1:25 pm PDT
An explosive new interview in one of the most notorious missing-persons cases in Missouri history.
Crime Watch Daily Special Correspondent Kim Goldman is chasing down new leads on the Springfield Three.
At a suburban home in Springfield, Missouri, Stacy McCall, Suzanne Streeter and Suzie's mother Sherrill Levitt all vanished in the early-morning hours of June 7, 1992.
They are known as The Springfield Three.
Stacy McCall, 18, wanted to attend Missouri State University.
"She was so funny and bubbly and she would do things and we called her 'Spacey Stacy' because she would come out with things that would be 'space-cadet' things," Stacy's mother Janis McCall tells Crime Watch Daily.
Suzie Streeter, just 19, wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and be a hairdresser.
"Very outgoing, fun, happy," said Suzie's friend Nigel Holderby. "Suzie was a creature of habit. Almost OCD to some degree. There were some things that I teased her about: Where she parked her car in the driveway was always the same."
And Suzie's mom Sherrill Levitt had just bought her dream home in a nice, safe part of Springfield, Missouri.
"She was pretty fierce, pretty fierce lady. She didn't do a lot of half-measures in her life," said Sherrill's sister Debra Schwartz.
It was supposed to be one of the happiest times in the teenagers' lives: Suzie and Stacy were graduating from Kickapoo High School.
"[Suzie and Stacy] used to be good friends back in grade school and they had kind of grown apart. Suzie went with a different crowd than Stacy did," said Janis McCall.
Suzie was the popular girl who dated a bad boy. Stacy was the pretty local model who hung out with the goofy crowd. But fate was about to reunite the former grade-school friends in the cruelest of ways. Just hours after receiving their diplomas, the teens head out for the same graduation party.
"Stacy had said she was going to go on to some parties," said Janis.
After the party, the graduates plan to drive to Branson, Missouri, about an hour away and go to White Water Branson amusement park in the morning.
"I'm saying 'No, please, don't go down tonight, you can go tomorrow,'" said Janis. "I think I was afraid of a car accident."
But once at the party in Springfield, destiny sends the girls in a different direction.
"She called me at 10:30 and said 'Mom, don't worry, we're not going to go to Branson tonight,' and I said 'Phew -- thank you, thank you,'" said Janis.
Instead, everybody decides to sleep over at another classmate's house. Stacy promises to call her mom in the morning before heading to the water park.
"You say 'I love you' again on the phone and I had no idea that was the last time I was going to hear her voice," said Janis.
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, plans change again. The sleepover is so crowded that Stacy asks her friend Suzie to spend the night at her house.
"Suzie said 'I've got a brand new king-size waterbed, why don't you come and stay at my house with me and we'll get ready and go to White Water and meet them,'" Janis tells Crime Watch Daily.
The girls leave the party just after 2 a.m. Cops believe Stacy and Suzie walked through the front door of Sherrill's house on Delmar Street in Springfield about 15 minutes later. That's where the mystery begins.
Early the next morning, Suzie's best friend Nigel calls to find out when they're leaving for the water park.
"I got the answering machine, I left her a message, I hung up and laid back down, waited for her to call me back, and she never called me back," said Nigel.
Janis is also getting antsy waiting to hear from Stacy.
"I said 'You know, she should have called me by now, I don't think she's still asleep,'" said Janis McCall. "Then I left another message probably an hour to two later and by the third message I was getting pretty frantic."
When the girls fail to contact anybody about the trip to the water park, everyone makes their way to the little house on Delmar Street.
"I knew there was something bad wrong, but I didn't want to admit it to myself," said Janis.
At first there's relief. Stacy's, Suzie's and Sherrill's cars are all lined up in the circular driveway. Then Nigel notices something wrong: that's not where Suzie normally parks.
"She would always pull right into the carport, that's not where her car was," said Nigel. "Then I instantly am thinking, you know, 'Was somebody parked in the driveway, was somebody already there?'"
As they walk toward the house, more signs of trouble.
"There was glass on the porch," said Janis.
A lamppost was shattered. Two friends quickly sweep up the mess and throw it in a Dumpster across the street.
"They cleaned it off because they knew that Sherrill wouldn't like that," said Janis.
They knock. There is no answer. Then they slowly turn the doorknob.
"And I thought, 'Why would they leave the front door unlocked?'" said Stacy's mother Janis. "I hollered and I said 'Stacy, Suzie,' and called for Sherrill. Nobody was answering."
The lights are off and the television is on, but the screen is snow. Then, out of the shadows, a tiny figure comes barreling toward them. It's Suzie's little dog "Cinnamon," and she's freaked out.
"The dog was in there just going crazy, just yipping and crying," said Janis.
They cautiously creep toward the bedrooms.
"Sherrill's house is immaculate and I said either she'd already made up her bed or she hadn't gone to bed," said Janis. "No signs of struggle, everything was nice and neat."
Then something stops them in their tracks: all three of the women's purses are neatly lined up beside each other.
"Opened up their purses and went through, that's when we found out that Sherrill had almost a $900 deposit in her purse," said Janis.
Nothing seemed to be missing, but there was something else strange. Sherrill never went anywhere without her cigarettes.
"Sherrill is a chain-smoker. Her cigarettes and purse are right here," said Janis.
Then their hearts jump. The phone rings, but it's not the girls -- a stranger is on the line.
"Lewd sexual content," said Janis.
At first, Stacy's mom Janis McCall says, no one hit the panic button.
"I didn't want to call 911," Janis tells Crime Watch Daily. "Because that would be an emergency and I thought they were going to come back any minute. I thought they were going to come back in that door and walk in."
While patiently waiting for the women to return, friends and family tidy up the house, even repairing an awkwardly bent window blind.
"You have a dozen people in a house emptying ashtrays, cleaning coffee cups, but nobody could grasp that this was anything but a misunderstanding," said Sherrill's friend Debra Schwartz.
Sherrill's house phone rings. They let her answering machine pick it up. Everyone expects to hear one of the women, but it's a stranger calling.
"It was a very rude phone call. Lewd sexual content," said Janis.
Everyone assumes it's simply a post-graduation prank call, so someone hits "delete."
"Somehow it got erased," said Janis.
As night falls in Springfield, everyone's concern quickly swells to full-blown panic. It was time to make that 911 call.
"It's three grown women that just disappeared," said Springfield Police Sgt. Todd King. "One person, maybe something that you could sit back and go 'OK, I can see that.' Two people are difficult to imagine, and three is almost unfathomable."
Springfield Police immediately know something bad happened inside the house.
"They said 'We're going to take a report, and this is going to be as missing persons, and not only that but foul play suspected,'" said Janis.
"They started with the house and they treated the house like a crime scene," said Sgt. King.
Now there's a big problem. Remember, friends and family had unknowingly cleaned up, and that completely contaminated the crime scene.
"There's nothing," said Former Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore. "You have no threads, hair, blood. No DNA."
And that lewd phone call the friends deleted?
"There was just nothing we could do to recover that message," said Sgt. King.
So police dig deeper into the background of the women and find something odd on a bookshelf in Suzie's room.
"It turned out there were a lot of things about devil worship and satanic things that she was looking into," said Stacy's mother Janis.
Police discover Suzie Streeter had dated a bad boy who'd recently been arrested for being part of a grave-robbing gang.
"They had broken into a mausoleum and they took the gold teeth out of some skulls," said Janis.
Friends say Suzie was so disgusted by the grave robbery that she broke up him.
"The theory was that they always suspected Suzie of being the one that had turned them in and got them charged with the grave-robbing," said former chief assistant prosecutor Moore.
Suzie had even agreed to testify against her ex-boyfriend and his buddies at trial, which was coincidentally just a few months away. Friends now wonder if he was out to shut her up.
"That raised an issue, and if they got mad at her, did they get sufficiently mad to actually try to kidnap her and kill her?" said Moore.
Springfield Police track down the young men, who deny any involvement.
Darrell Moore, one of the prosecutors on the case, tells Crime Watch Daily that without any DNA or fingerprints from the house, there was simply nothing to link them to the disappearance of the Springfield Three.
"The chief of police at the time cleared them. Some of us do not believe they should be cleared," Moore said.
Two torturous weeks pass. Still no word from Stacy, Suzie or Sherrill.
Just as hope is fading, cops get a much-needed break.
"A person called in, said she thought she saw Suzie Streeter, or a person looking like Suzie, driving a van," said Moore.
The female caller says she saw Suzie the morning she went missing, driving an older model avocado-green panel van.
"The van was seen two miles away from where Sherrill Levitt's house was," said Sgt. Todd King.
The caller also tells police Suzie looked scared, and then adds a terrifying detail: she claims she heard a man yelling at Suzie from the back seat.
"Saying some kind of threat, 'You better keep driving if you know what's good for you,' something like that," said Moore.
"The police department stopped lots of vans and ID'ed people," said Sgt. King.
Police even park a similar van in front of their station hoping it will jog someone else's memory, but the lead about the van hits a dead end.
"It was just one of the many leads that they grabbed hold of with hope of getting something," said Sgt. King.
For weeks, then months, bizarre theories trickle in to the Springfield Police Dept.
"Reports after reports after reports," said King. "We've seen theories, everything from space aliens to They were grabbed up in the human-trafficking angle."
"A lead that a guy that was a notorious criminal out in Webster County may have taken them, raped them and chopped them into pieces and fed them to the pigs," said Darrell Moore.
Even Suzie's best friend Nigel Holderby had her own theory.
"For there not to be anything, a sign of a struggle, anything like that, I just really felt like this person knew them. They had some knowledge of who this person was, or someone came to the door," said Nigel.
But who could have stormed a house with military precision and subdued three strong young women? Then a tip comes in all the way from Florida that sends shivers down cops' spines.
"We did receive information reference Mr. Cox," said Sgt. King.
Robert Craig Cox, a highly trained Army Ranger once named Soldier of the Year -- now a suspected killer.
"He had been believed to be responsible for a homicide in Florida of a girl," said Sgt. King.
Cox had been convicted and sentenced to death in Florida for the brutal murder of 19-year-old Sharon Zellers. But that verdict was reversed and he was handed over to authorities in California.
"There was never enough to say that definitively that he was involved," said Sgt. King.
Cox served nine years for abducting two women there. So what's his connection to the Springfield Three?
"Robert Cox worked at the dealership where Stacy's dad worked," said Sherrill Levitt's friend Debra Schwartz.
Police have investigated more than 5,000 tips from across 21 states trying to find the missing Springfield Three. And their focus suddenly shifted to a true monster of a man with a history of kidnapping people.
Robert Craig Cox was a highly decorated, highly skilled Army Ranger with a horrifying history of abducting young women. He was even suspected of a brutal murder, but was later cleared.
"Through investigation he became a person of interest with this case," said Springfield Police Sgt. Todd King.
Cops learn Cox moved to Springfield just weeks before Stacy, Suzie and Sherrill mysteriously disappeared. Family members tell Crime Watch Daily this monster in hiding actually worked with Stacy McCall's dad at a local car dealership.
Cops haul him in for questioning.
"A lot of the things that he said didn't add up," said Sgt. King.
The biggest problem? His girlfriend gives him an ironclad alibi, claiming they were at church. Cops keep their eye on Cox but continue chasing other leads.
Then Robert Craig Cox is arrested again, this time in Texas, for aggravated robbery. And now his girlfriend is singing an entirely different tune, recanting his earlier alibi, claiming she has no idea where Cox was the night the Springfield Three went missing.
"He was charged down in Texas and he's currently serving prison time in Texas," said Sgt. King.
When investigative reporter Dennis Graves from Crime Watch Daily Springfield affiliate KY3-TV gets wind of the recanted alibi he heads to Texas on a hunch. Graves is hoping to find out if Cox knows anything about the missing women of Springfield. Instead he gets what sounds like a confession from a killer.
"I know that they're dead, I'll say that. I know that," Cox tells Graves in a recorded interview. "Yeah, but I just know that they're dead. That's not my theory, I just know that."
When pushed for details, Cox tells Graves he won't give specifics until his dear mother passes. His mother is 82.
"He's made different statements that of course keeps him as a person of interest, but never has made any true statements to point us in one direction or another," said Springfield Police Sgt. Todd King. "He's never been ruled out."
The case cools off, and it may have stayed that way if not for Kathee Baird, a freelance journalist in Springfield, Mo.
"I was here when they went missing," Baird tells Crime Watch Daily. "I was like, just, let's give it a shot. Let's see if we can help bring justice for three women that nobody knows what happened to."
But soon the reporter becomes the lead story. Baird gets a tip: The women are buried beneath a hospital parking structure which at the time was a dirt lot. She brought that information to police. What did they do with it?
"Pretty much laughed at me," said Baird.
Undeterred, Baird hires a man who uses high-tech ground-penetrating radar capable of finding graves hidden under concrete.
"He said 'I'm getting two images over here and one over here,' and I said, 'Oh.' And that's when I told him 'I'm working the disappearance of three women,'" said Baird. "And he was kind of like, 'Well this is exactly what I see when I go over old graves."
But police say the timeline doesn't add up.
"A year after they went missing is when that parking garage started construction," said Sgt. King.
Couldn't the theory have been then that they were buried in the ground there and then the hospital parking lot was just on top of it?
"You'd also would have guessed that excavation in order to build the parking garage should have unearthed them," said King.
When Crime Watch Daily asks Kathee Baird who she believes murdered the women and buried their bodies under the parking lot, our interview takes a bizarre and unexpected turn.
"I believe I know what happened," said Baird. "I believe they were killed before morning."
Who does she think was the target?
"It wasn't Stacy."
So that leaves Suzie or Sherrill.
And Stacy was just collateral damage?
What does she believe the motives were for the people that took Stacy, Sherrill and Suzie?
"I'm not going to talk about that," said Baird.
Kathee Baird says she knows, and she's not going to tell.
Who wouldn't she share it on national television? Why is she doing this interview?
"Because their story needs an ending. That's why," says Baird.
Frustration boils over, and then our producer jumps in.
"I'm sorry you don't think I'm giving you the answers that you need or you want, but I live here and yeah, I'm afraid for my safety," Baird said. "We've been boxed in by cars before. Somebody came up to me and asked if I was Kathee Baird, and I said yes. He said 'Well the people I work for make people like you disappear too.'
"I've been advised to leave this case alone," said Baird.
Kathee Baird will not even tell us who's threatening her, but vows she will never leave this case alone until she can prove who's responsible for making the Springfield Three disappear.
"There is something very dark in this story," said Baird. "Something super-frightening when you get down to it, of who you trust. Just be very careful. There's a reason this case hasn't been solved."
Springfield Police say they have big questions about Kathee Baird's story, in fact they say some of her tips come from psychics.
But Sgt. Todd King says they welcome every possible lead. They have a room dedicated to the nearly 10,000 tips that have come in over the past 25 years.
"It's a reminder that the ladies are still missing, we still need to be diligent in what we're doing in hopes of finding them," said Sgt. King.
He assures us no one wants to solve this 25-year mystery more than they do.
"I would love nothing more than to be able to show up at their doorstep and say 'We've figured it out,'" said Sgt. King.
"I do believe they're probably gone, they're probably deceased," said Janis McCall, Stacy's mother. "I don't have anything that tells me for sure, so until they have found their remains I have to believe that they're still alive and well."
If you have information about the case, contact Springfield Police Crime Stoppers at (417) 869-TIPS.
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