The skeletal remains found in an underground pipe in Chalamont Park in Little Rock were confirmed to be that of 18-year-old Ebby Steppach, who disappeared in 2015. Steppach’s family has now released a statement.
Ebby Steppach was last seen on October 24, 2015. She reportedly had behavioral changes in the days leading up to her disappearance, which first led people to believe that she was a runaway. Now, cold case investigators found skeletal remains in an underground drain pipe, which were confirmed to be of Ebby Steppach.
|About Ebby Steppach|
|Birth||March 31, 1997|
|Parents||Laurie Jernigan, Michael Jernigan|
|Missing Since||October 25, 2015|
|Remains Found in||Drainage pipe in Chalamont Park|
Timeline of Ebby Steppach’s Disappearance
Ebby Jane Steppach was born on March 31, 1997, and spent her senior year at Little Rock Central High School. Before this, she attended LISA Academy. She vanished on October 25, 2015.
Before switching schools, she left her stepfather, Michael Jernigan, and mother, Laurie Jernigan’s home, and moved in with her older brother, Trevor.
About a month after starting her new school, Ebby Steppach disappeared. Her remains were found three years later in a drainage pipe in Chalamont Park.
October 23, 2015: Party Gone Wrong
Ebby Steppach’s best friend, Danielle Westbrook, contacted her a few nights before her disappearance. She asked Westbrook if she could stay the night on October 20, 2015.
The next morning, Westbrook went to school, but Steppach didn’t. She told Westbrook that she didn’t feel like going and didn’t want to deal with “all that drama.” Westbrook wasn’t sure of what Steppach meant.
That night, the two went to First Assembly of God, a church in Little Rock.
On Friday, October 23, 2015, Steppach went to a party and spent the night out. Westbrook didn’t go, as she didn’t know the people there.
Steppach said she was raped on the night of the party and that her attacker taped it.
“She went out that Friday night, and the things that happened changed her, it blindsided us,” said her stepfather, Michael Jernigan.
October 24, 2015: Ebby Disappears
That Saturday, Steppach texted her stepfather saying that something bad happened to her. She said that four boys at the party sexually assaulted her and videotaped the incident.
Steppach told her stepfather that she wanted to go to the police and file a complaint against the person.
She was supposed to meet Jernigan on October 24, but she didn’t show up. The next day, she called Trevor to say that she was outside his house. But when he went out, she was nowhere to be seen.
Trevor said that his sister sounded “confused and disoriented.” When he asked where she was during the call, she said that she didn’t know, but that she was in her car.
That was last time Ebby Steppach spoke to her family. Her last known location was Chalamont Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, where her Volkswagen Passat was found on October 30, 2015.
The car was found by a security guard named Guy Hooper.
October 2015-May 2018: Investigation Failures
Days turned to weeks, and police struggled to find new details in the investigation. The searches did not lead to new clues, and police interviews didn’t provide new leads.
Steppach’s case turned cold, but the 18-year-old was not forgotten. People regularly came forward to offer help, and a GoFundMe page was set up, where over $13,000 were raised to help her family continue search efforts. They also put out a $50,000 reward to anyone who can lead them to their daughter.
The search for Steppach continued leading to dead ends until private investigator Monty Vickers spoke to Guy Hooper.
The security guard said that he remembered seeing Steppach with two young African-American men at the park a few days before she vanished.
Hooper told Vickers that he saw Steppach three times with different men. One of them had dreadlocks and was regularly there. He was seen hugging and kidding the teen.
After going to the police station to identify the man with dreadlocks, Hooper positively identified 21-year-old Keith Pruiett. He was charged with human trafficking and promoting prostitution near Louisiana in 2017. However, he is not believed to be connected to Steppach’s disappearance.
May 22, 2018: Human Remains Found in a Drainage Pipe
The cold case investigators decided to take another look at the park where Steppach’s car was found, including the drains.
Police reportedly searched the area again to “further investigate” the case.
The Public Works Department, as well as the FBI, accompanied local police in the excavation. The human remains found were later confirmed to be of Ebby Steppach.
Steppach’s parents released a statement about the discovery of their daughter’s remains. They thanked everyone who helped in the case over the last three years.
— Mitchell McCoy (@MitchellMcCoy) May 23, 2018