Cold Case

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

On October 17, 1990 Stephanie Vandenberg left work from Figi's in Marshfield and headed to a party. It would be the last place her friends would see her alive.

At first Stephanie's family told police they thought she had run away. They would turn out to be wrong. Just over seven months after Stephanie first disappeared, it would move from a missing person's case into a murder case when Stephanie's body was found near a damn on Sherwood Lake.

Located in southern Clark County, Sherwood Lake is about 20 miles from Marshfield. Stephanie was found wrapped in a sheet and weighed down with a rock. Toxicology reports indicate she died from asphyxiation.

Fourteen years later the murder remains unsolved, though investigators say they constantly receive new leads, one as recently as this week.

Clark County Chief Deputy Robert Powell says, "We continue to work on the case. We never really put it away and it certainly isn't closed. It's still an open case."

Detective Mark Gosh is with the Wood County Sheriff's Department adds, "You call this a cold case. To me it's not cold. To me it's just an old case that I continue to work because prior to my retirement I'd like to see it solved."

Gosh says that's a definite possibility. Since the beginning of the investigation they've had a suspect in the case, but never enough evidence to present to the district attorney. Investigators also think someone else might know what happened the night Stephanie was killed and hope that person is now willing to come forward.

Powell suggests, "Maybe they're more mature now. Maybe they've decided that what they thought might get them in trouble 14 years ago, now they understand it's not a big deal.”

Investigators say they can't promise someone will be convicted of Stephanie's murder, but they'll work hard to make sure she won't be forgotten.

Gosh says he takes the case to bed with him every night.

"As you can see, there's a picture of Stephanie on the front window of our office, and so every morning when I get here, that's staring me in the face."

If you have any information on Stephanie Vandenberg's murder, call the Wood County Sheriff's Department at 384-5917 or the Clark County Sheriff's Department at 743-3157.

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