On April 30, 2007, Lisa Michelle Stebic went missing from her Plainfield, Illinois home, seemingly without a trace. According to her estranged husband, Craig Stebic, Lisa was on her way to a local gym for her routine evening workout, but she apparently never made it there. She also never came back home that night. April 30, 2019 will mark the 12-year anniversary of Lisa’s mysterious disappearance, and the police still have no leads, no arrests have been made, and, worst of all, Lisa’s family is still no closer to finding the answers they seek than they were when she initially vanished. What happened to Lisa Michelle Stebic?
This article outlines the most important details of this captivating missing persons case that’s stunned the nation for more than a decade.
|About Lisa Michelle Stebic|
|Known As||Lisa Ruttenberg|
|Birth||May 19, 1969 Park Ridge, Illinois|
|Children||Alexis “Lexi” Stebic, Zachary Stebic|
|Last Seen||April 30, 2007|
Who Is Lisa Michelle Stebic?
Lisa Michelle Stebic (nee Ruttenberg) was born on May 19, 1969, in Park Ridge, Illinois. A Chicago native, she attended Libertyville High School in Libertyville, a suburb located just north of Chicago, from 1983 to 1987.
From a very young age, Lisa was interested in athletics and maintaining good health; this was a characteristic that would follow her into adulthood as well. She was dedicated to staying in shape and she even joined her high school swim team. Lisa also enjoyed jazz dancing to help her stay in good form.
After high school, Lisa went to Southern Illinois University where she worked toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Partway through her education, though, she decided to transfer to Kendall College at National Louis University in Chicago to pursue a degree in hotel and restaurant management.
After working a number of jobs within the restaurant and hospitality industry, she landed a position as a food assistant at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago, where she made a modest living.
Melanie Greenberg, Lisa’s cousin by marriage and the official spokesperson for the family after she went missing, said Lisa “met Craig (her husband) at a party” and the pair hit it off right away. On April 6, 1993, they solidified their love for one another by eloping in Jamaica.
Their daughter, Alexis “Lexi” Stebic, was born in 1995, followed by their son Zachary Stebic in 1996.
Originally, the couple lived in Waukegan, Illinois, but they were forced to move 70 miles south to Plainfield because Craig worked as a pipefitter and was constantly commuting back and forth to work there.
An Unhappy Union
Craig and Lisa’s marriage was far from perfect and it certainly wasn’t a happy union, to say the least. They argued constantly and even went through extended periods where they refused to speak to one another. Throughout the course of their marriage, Craig became a convicted felon and he had a wicked temper that he’d often exhibit in the form of verbal, emotional, and mental abuse toward his wife.
As a hunter, Craig always kept weapons such as hunting rifles in the house. In 1995, he was charged with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon after being pulled over by police within 1,000 feet of two schools in the Lincolnshire area. Several weapons were recovered from his vehicle, including a pistol, a shotgun, and two assault rifles.
This incident would also culminate in Craig being caught driving without a valid driver’s license, and he was charged with several other misdemeanors. The Stebics’ marriage was already on the rocks when Craig was convicted of these crimes as they had been separated for some time.
The catalyst for their reconciliation was Lisa’s pregnancy with daughter Lexi at the time. They decided to work to make their relationship better for the sake of their growing family.
After Lexi was born, Craig allegedly called the Plainfield police on Lisa because, he claimed, she came home completely intoxicated after a night out partying with her friends. Lisa’s friend contradicted this story, contending that Craig had locked his wife out of the house for the entire night for no reason.
Lisa and Craig Face Major Financial Issues
The Stebics purchased their Plainfield home in 2000. Due to increasing property values in the area, they were forced to take out a second mortgage on the house two years later.
To help make ends meet, Lisa Michelle Stebic took on a second job in 2006. By that time, she was already working in the cafeteria at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, so she asked to take on a few extra hours in the evening as part of the custodial staff to make a little more money. Compared to her husband’s $80,000 annual salary, her $10,000 income was quite meager.
Tired of working long hours for very little pay and not getting to spend as much time with her kids as she wanted to, Lisa decided to drop the custodial work in early 2007. She was a dedicated mother who loved her kids dearly and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, which is why it’s so hard for her family to believe that she would just abandon them without any warning whatsoever.
In the days before she went missing, Lisa even spoke at length about getting involved in exercise programs that should participate in with her kids at the local gym. Her goal was to set a good example for them by encouraging them to lead healthy lifestyles.
Reportedly, she had recently lost a lot of weight and was working out more than ever because she wanted to stay in shape.
Lisa was always on the lookout for new workout buddies in her area, particularly women who were motivated to improve their health, and she had even created a profile on a web site that connects people with similar exercise and health goals.
A Messy Divorce Proceeding
Just a few months before Lisa Michelle Stebic ’s disappearance, Craig filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. According to family and friends, the pair had already become estranged despite continuing to live under the same roof.
The divorce was never finalized in light of Lisa’s disappearance.
Over the years, numerous theories have arisen in terms of what happened to her, and the court of public opinion has been unrelenting.
It’s important to note that on the same day she went missing, Lisa had allegedly contacted her divorce lawyer to inform him that she’d mailed in a petition to have Craig legally evicted from their marital home. It stated that he was “unnecessarily relentless, cruel, inconsiderate, domineering, and verbally abusive” toward his wife.
She was mainly concerned about the well-being of her kids and how Craig’s behavior was affecting them. Lexi was 12 and Zachary was 10 at the time. Craig claimed that he knew nothing about the petition.
Friends and family also confirmed that Lisa feared her husband. By the end of their marriage, she was sleeping on the living room couch with a duffel bag packed with essential belongings in case she and the kids needed to make a quick getaway.
As if that wasn’t proof enough that something was very wrong in the Stebic household, Lisa was also regularly attending counseling sessions at the Guardian Angel Home of Joliet, an institution that offered support for abused and battered women.
The Day Lisa Went Missing
Oddly enough, Craig was the only one home around the time that Lisa reportedly went missing. Given their hostile history, it’s pretty safe to assume that they didn’t speak to each other and she most likely didn’t inform him that she was leaving to go to the gym.
Before Lisa Michelle Stebic got home that day, Craig gave the kids money to go to the local Walgreens and buy some candy for themselves. Lisa was last seen leaving the house around 6:00 p.m. On April 30, 2007. The kids got home from the store sometime around 6:30 or 6:45 p.m., according to Craig’s account. Afterward, he took them to Target to buy a birthday gift for one of their friends.
Being a creature of habit, Lisa was usually the one to pick the kids up from school because she finished work around 2:30 p.m. and they were done an hour later. At least once a week, she would treat herself to a sandwich from the local Jimmy John’s. The day of her disappearance was no different. She woke up in the morning, got the kids ready for school, and then headed to work like she always did. After work, she ran a few errands, grabbed her sandwich, and then picked up the kids and brought them home.
Craig’s Strange Behavior the Morning After
The next day, May 1, 2007, Craig realized that his wife hadn’t come home from her workout the night before. He called her workplace to see if she had reported to work. She hadn’t. He then called the next-door neighbor, who was a good friend of Lisa’s and asked if she had heard from her at all. The neighbor said she hadn’t seen Lisa since the day before and had no idea where she was.
Worried that something happened to Lisa, the neighbor called the police to report her as a missing person. Since the couple had dealt with domestic disputes in the past, Lisa had reportedly told this neighbor to contact the police in the event something should happen to her.
What’s even odder than that is Craig’s behavior throughout the entire investigation. He didn’t seem very worried about the whereabouts of his estranged wife at all and even went about his day as he normally would. Craig dropped off the kids at school and then went to work.
That week, police started forming neighborhood search parties to look for Lisa in the surrounding areas, including the local parks where she usually went jogging.
At first, Craig seemed like he was going to cooperate with the police investigation. He even voluntarily handed over the family computer to them so they could examine its contents and submit it as evidence.
Hundreds of people volunteered their time to hand out missing persons flyers with Lisa’s name and police contact information. These were spearheaded by Lisa’s cousin Mark and his wife Melanie. Craig refused to participate.
As the investigation wore on, he became increasingly evasive, uncooperative, and even forbade his children from speaking to other family members, the media, and the police.
Police List Craig as the Sole Person of Interest
Unfortunately, in the 10-plus years that this case has remained active, investigators haven’t made much headway in finding out exactly what happened to Lisa Michelle Stebic—and Craig is partly to blame for that.
Initially, police asked Craig to take a polygraph test, but he refused to comply with this request on the advice of his attorney. As mentioned, he also refused to participate in any of the search parties conducted by friends, family, and other members of the community.
Just over a month after Lisa’s disappearance, Plainfield police teamed up with the FBI to conduct a thorough search of the Stebic home. After obtaining several search warrants, they were able to confiscate numerous household items, including pillows, bed sheets, and anything else that was likely to have Lisa’s DNA on it.
They even confiscated the two family vehicles, both of which were registered under Craig’s name. He drove a 2002 Chevrolet pickup truck that he primarily used for work and hunting, while Lisa drove a 2004 Saturn Ion.
Inside Craig’s truck, police recovered a large, blood-stained tarp. He had told news reporters that the blood was from a recent deer hunting trip. However, deer hunting season ended in January and, when police tested the blood, it was matched with Lisa’s DNA.
Following this shocking discovery, Craig filed for sole custody of his children, but he was denied. He also petitioned to have his divorce papers dismissed; this was granted.
During a phone interview on Larry King Live, which also featured Mark and Melanie Greenberg, Craig Stebic’s father, Joe Stebic, defended his son, saying: “[Craig] just doesn’t know what happened to [Lisa]…All he told me one time was she was on that computer and he figures something that happened over that computer email stuff. That’s all I know.”
Rumors arose that Lisa might have been seeing another man who was divorced, but these were unsubstantiated.
As a direct result of Craig’s evasiveness and the fact that he wouldn’t allow investigators to interview his children, the Plainfield Police Department named Craig as the sole person of interest in the case of his missing wife. They believe that his lack of cooperation has severely hindered the investigation from moving forward. His actions don’t appear to match those of a person who has nothing to hide, and the inexplicable bloodstains on the tarp in his truck certainly don’t help the case against him.
A Newsworthy Scandal
To add insult to injury, NBC5’s Amy Jacobson, who was one of the lead reporters on this case, was caught on camera attending a pool party at the Stebic’s house after Lisa was reported missing. She was one of the many reporters on the scene when the FBI recovered a long list of deadly firearms from the Stebic house during a raid. Jacobson even interviewed Lisa’s sisters Jamie and Debbie to get their take on their sister’s mysterious disappearance.
Naturally, it was seen as a major conflict of interest when a video of Jacobson surfaced in which she was wearing a bikini and swimming in the Stebics’ backyard pool. Despite the fact she was allegedly there because her daughter was invited to a pool party for one of the Stebic kids, her participation still seems highly inappropriate.
Severe consequences followed, as the scandal was being reported on every major rival media outlet in the country. NBC promptly fired her and her marriage also suffered due to the fact that she was unable to find another job with a major network.
Other Women Go Missing
Approximately six months after the chilling disappearance of Lisa Michelle Stebic began making national headlines, other women were also reported missing around the same area.
Stacy Peterson, who was 23 years old at the time, went missing in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Similar to Lisa’s case, Stacy’s husband, Drew, was also labeled as a person of interest. Stacy was Drew’s fourth wife. His third wife had been murdered and he was eventually convicted of killing her.
Due to a lack of police resources and funding, and a growing number of missing persons cases in the surrounding areas; many of these investigations often overlapped with one another. Search parties were used to look for both women simultaneously in the hopes that at least one of them would be found. Unfortunately, both women are still missing.
With each passing day, Lisa’s family is slowly losing hope that they’ll ever get the closure they need to move forward.
Last year, Melanie Greenberg told the Chicago Tribune, “I don’t think I ever could have thought 10 years ago…that there still would be no resolution. That’s what’s kind of stunning, that it’s 10 years on and it’s almost in some ways as if we are where we were 10 years ago.”
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Lisa Michelle Stebic should contact the Plainfield Police Department tip line at 815-267-7217 or the FBI’s Major Case Contact Center at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).