Most disappearances confuse people, but very few leave even the most experienced investigators scratching their heads. The disappearance of the Springfield three is one such case. It happened many years ago, and people still don’t have a clue what happened. How do a woman and two teenage girls drop off the face of the earth?
With so many theories surrounding this case, I decided to look at each of them myself. It’s important to say that I am not a detective and anything I say in this post is an opinion and nothing more. I don’t claim to know what happened to the three, but like most people, I have my theories.
So, let’s take a look back at the crazy disappearance of Sherill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall.
Life couldn’t have been better for 19-year-old Suzie Streeter and 18-year-old Stacy McCall. It was the summer of 1992, and the pair had just celebrated something most teenagers look forward to – their high-school graduation.
June 6th, 1992 marked the day they would finally be moving out on their own, with thoughts of college, moving out of the family home and experiencing life as adults. After spending a couple of days partying with their friends, the pair decided to go to Streeter’s house that she shared with her mother, Levitt.
Initially, they had intended to stay at their friend’s house but decided as it was too crowded they’d meet up with the group in the morning. They said their goodbyes at 2:00 am, and that was the last time their friends saw them.
Suzie and Stacy were meant to meet their friend, Janelle Kirby at her house the next morning, but failed to show. Thinking they’d overslept, Kirby and her boyfriend decided to pick the pair up at Levitt’s home. They had no idea how in the space of a few hours, their life would change.
The Initial Confusion
When Janelle Kirby and her boyfriend arrived at the house, they found the door unlocked. The women’s cars were outside, but there was no sign of them in the home. Kirby later recalled to the police that she and her boyfriend found the porch lightbulb smashed and swept the glass up.
Another strange thing was the beloved family terrier Cinnamon was in the home and seemed extremely agitated. The phone rang, and Kirby answered it, to be met with the sounds of a male making sexual innuendos. She immediately hung up, but the man called once again. The pair left the house, confused about what they’d seen but not overly distressed.
It was several hours later when it became clear that things were seriously wrong. Stacy McCall’s mother Janis went to the home and noticed that the belongings of the three were in the living room, but they were nowhere to be found. Worried, she immediately called the police to report the three were missing, then checked the answering machine for clues.
There was a strange message that immediately alarmed her, but for some reason, it was erased. Later on, police would say they thought the message might be a clue to the disappearances but later said they didn’t believe the prank calls Kirby has answered were related.
Despite McCall’s initial phone call, and a follow up later, police didn’t arrive at the home for at least a day and during that time multiple people had entered the house to look for the trio.
Janis McCall decided to make missing person flyers, which featured the faces of the trio. She put them up all over the town, and it was the media which dubbed them The Springfield Three.
The police started by putting together a timeline and established that the trio’s unsolved disappearance occurred between 2 am – 8 am on June 7th, 1992. There were no signs of a struggle at the crime scene, apart from the smashed porch light and none of the neighbours reported seeing or hearing anything suspicious.
Due to the mysterious nature of the case, and the fact it involved three people, the FBI joined the investigation on June 9th. By June 14th, officials and volunteers began performing searches of remote and wooded areas to recover the bodies of the three but found nothing.
During the first few months of the investigation, officers were given some promising leads. Let’s look at them now.
The Unknown Man
One neighbour reported to investigators that in the days leading up to the disappearance, there was a strange transient man in the area. The woman failed to identify the unknown man in a photo line up, and to this day, police officers don’t know if he holds any clues to the case.
Suzie Streeter’s Relationships
Suzie Streeter wasn’t great at picking guys, and her ex-boyfriend Dustin Recla had every reason to hold a grudge against her. Recla and his friend Michael Clay were facing vandalism and theft charges, and Suzie was due to testify against them in court.
Police interviewed the pair but had alibis, so there were no grounds to question them further.
Both Sherill and Suzie had nothing to do with Bartt Streeter. The pair’s son and brother had a lot of issues, and he was immediately the police’s main suspect. Bartt had an alibi that both his girlfriend at the time and a neighbour confirmed. He also passed a polygraph test, so investigators removed him from their suspect list.
Suzie and “The Van”
Another witness claimed she had seen Suzie Streeter driving a van at 6:30 am on June 7th, 1992. The girl looked very distressed as she took orders from a man shouting in the backseat. Others came forward to say they had seen the van, but one witness could only remember three digits of the license plate.
Other witnesses said they’d heard the screeching of tyres and a girls screams in the early hours of June 7th, but police never managed to find more information about the incident.
The Serial Killer Theory
By 1993, investigators announced they were looking at the possibility that the three fell victim to serial killers. At one point they searched a farm and found some items of interest, but never revealed any more information to the public.
Robert Cox was a convict who was also suspected of killing a woman. It was her brother that notified the police about his possible involvement and Cox seemed like a viable suspect. He had been questioned regarding an unrelated assault and was convicted in California for abducting and assaulting two women.
After Cox was released from prison, he lived and worked in Springfield. He also had a strong connection to Stacy McCall, having worked at the same car lot as her father. While he claimed he had an alibi, a later arrest in 1995 led police to reinvestigate him for the unsolved disappearance of the Springfield three.
During a 1996 interview, Cox said to a reporter in prison that he believed the three women were deceased and buried in Springfield. He didn’t, however, implicate himself in the crime. Both Sherill Levitt and Suzie Streeter were declared dead in 1997, despite their bodies having never been found.
In the years leading up to 2001, the case had no evidence, so it went cold. After police reopened the investigation, they searched an abandoned farm but found no evidence to suggest the women were there.
A local reporter suggested that the trio might be buried beneath the parking lot at Cox Hospital. She claimed to have received many calls, and in 2007 a specialist using a ground-penetrating radar located three abnormalities in the area. Still, police officers said there wasn’t enough evidence to excavate the parking lot.
Today, police claim they still receive tips related to the case, but there have been no further developments. In 2022, the trio will have been missing for 30 years, and there are numerous theories about what happened that night.
Theories About The Springfield Three
As with most unsolved disappearances, there are lots of theories, and some make more sense than others. Let’s take a look at them now.
Robert Cox is a likely suspect, and he certainly had a motive. Cox worked with McCall’s father and may have decided to abduct the young girl at some point. Perhaps he used his job as a utility worker to gain entry to Sherill Levitt’s house.
The fact that Robert Cox abducted and assaulted two girls shows he’s capable of committing depraved acts and his suspicious behaviour in the interview with a reporter certainly seems weird.
Sherill Levitt Was The Target
A less popular theory is that the abduction was planned, but the fact that Stacy and Suzies plans changed at the last minute, means if this theory has any weight, then Sherill Levitt was the focus on the crime.
Little is known about Levitt’s love life, and it seems unlikely that she was the intended victim with the girls being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Michael Clay and Dustin Recla
Another theory is that despite having alibis, Michael Clay and Dustin Recla remain suspects among internet sleuths. They had a reason to try to keep Suzie Streeter quiet, but given that the pair were only sentenced to probation for their crime, it seems a bit extreme to abduct and kill the three.
Bartt Streeter was cleared as a suspect due to having a confirmed alibi and passing his polygraph test, but is that enough? There’s a reason polygraphs aren’t admissible in court, so relying on that for his innocence wouldn’t be enough.
We do, however, have to take his alibi into account and the fact that a neighbour also corroborated it. Bart and his mother argued frequently, and one possible theory is that he went to the home that night not expecting his sister and Stacy McCall to be there.
The Bottom Line
Of all the suspects, Bartt Streeter had the most motive, and numerous research studies over the years prove that murder victims are more likely to know their killers. His alibi certainly throws a lot of shade over his potential involvement, but did the neighbour see him? Did his girlfriend lie for him? It’s something we’ll probably never know.
Robert Cox is the most likely culprit, but why would he wait until Stacy McCall was with two other women? Surely he would stalk her and abduct her away from potential witnesses. Cox is the most likely suspect, but he would have had to know that the girls were headed to Sherill Levitts house that night.
If he had been stalking McCall and planning to abduct her, wouldn’t it have made more sense to stop them on the car journey back to Levitt’s house?
The biggest mystery of this case is that Streeter and McCall weren’t meant to be at home that night, so a planned abduction is a hard theory to put forward. The truth is, the case of The Springfield Three is one of the most confusing unsolved disappearances investigators have ever experienced.
It’s unlikely we’ll get any more answers until the parking lot is thoroughly investigated. Sherill Levitt should be enjoying her retirement and spending time with the grandchildren she never got to meet, and her daughter will never have. The two girls would be in their early 50’s by now, and perhaps the fact that they were just starting their lives is why this case cuts so deep.
If you’d like to read more about the case, this True Crime book goes into more detail, and it has some great reviews.
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