Cold Case

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

Walter and Verna Baneck knew something was wrong on the night of February 28, 1983. Their daughter, 20-year-old Jeanette, hadn't come home.

Jeanette was last seen leaving work from North Central Health Care to start her long walk home. Eight months later, the search for Jeanette ended just two miles from her home.

Jeanette's skeletal remains were found in early November by a hunter in a wooded area south of Highway 29 in Weston. She was still wearing the blue snowmobile suit she left work in. She had been stabbed to death.

Walter says, "It's a nightmare all the way through. It seems like it just happened yesterday yet."

Verna agrees, "We still think of her everyday."

More than 20 years after her body was found, the murder remains unsolved. Jeanette's parents say all the unanswered questions make dealing with her death even more difficult. They keep a scrapbook of her life and death to remind them of their daughter.

Everest Metro Police Detective Steve Meilahn also keeps a picture of Jeanette to remind him of why he's working so hard to find who did this.

Meilahn says everybody described Jeanette as kind, gentle and shy.

"It's tragic what happened to her, it's just not right, and I would like to bring this to a successful conclusion, absolutely.”

But this cold case will be especially difficult to crack because of the limited physical evidence found at the scene. Having so little to go on has caused investigators to go down several wrong paths.

Meilahn says, "There was a time a couple years ago where we tracked down a false lead and kept going and thought, boy, we're on the right track, and it turned out to be nothing."

Meilahn says putting someone behind bars for Jeanette's murder would be the ultimate closure for investigators.

Jeanette's family would also like to see someone pay for her murder, but Walter says it won't bring them any closure.

"There's no such thing. People talk about it, but they're absolutely wrong. Our daughter is dead. We wonder a lot what her life would have been, who she would have married, what kind of grandchildren we would have had.”

Police still don't know what happened the night Jeanette disappeared. They have no specific suspect and no new leads, which is why Meilahn's appealing to the public.

"I'm not above looking for help. That's how we're gonna solve this case. Help from someone out there that knows something and has finally decided to come forward."

And that may be the break investigators need to close the book on this cold case for good.

If you have any information on the murder of Jeanette Baneck, please call the Everest Metro Police Department. Their number is 359-4202.

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