Ebby, an 18-year-old girl, disappeared in October 2015. Her remains were not found until May 2018.
Ebby Jane Steppach dreamed of being a cosmetologist. She was the daughter of two hair stylists and she found that the craft was easy to learn.
Ebby was a makeup artist, however. As a teenager, she worked two jobs, saving every penny so that she could afford high-end makeup. She took great care of it.
Ebby’s mother was concerned when her vibrant lipstick tubes and eyeshadow palettes were discovered broken in her car, just days after she had been reported missing. Ebby’s mother knew that her daughter was in danger.
Ebby’s mother Laurie Jeringan told Dateline that “By that point, I just knew in all my soul that something wasn’t right.”
Ebby was a young woman who had big dreams and was fiery. She loved her family and had a huge heart for the less fortunate.
Laurie stated that she thought she was very funny. She would make you laugh and wouldn’t let you leave the room. It would be a joy to hear her laugh again. To share a laugh with her.”
Laurie stated that the days following Ebby’s death were filled with trying to discover what happened to her daughter in October 2015.
Laurie stated that the high school student at 18 years old started to change around this time.
Laurie stated, “She had to go through many changes at once and suddenly she was eager to take control over her life.” “But her stepdad was really strict. She began to rebel and push back.
She explained that Ebby had changed jobs, been with different people, and moved schools. All of these things she believes contributed to her rebellion.
Laurie stated that she saw her rebelling, fighting and fighting back and storming out. It was quite the opposite of what we had known about Ebby. It was difficult for us all.”
Ebby’s stepfather Michael and mom Ebby told her to be respectful or she would have to move on. Ebby decided to leave and moved in with her brother Trevor and friends.
Ebby had left, but she kept in touch her parents. She even reached out to Michael her stepfather with an alarming situation.
Laurie, her mother, told Dateline that Ebby texted Michael at 8 p.m. on Oct 24, 2015. He told Michael that he had raped her by a group men at a party. The assault was also videotaped. She asked Michael to come with her to report the event to police.
Laurie claimed she was out with her husband for dinner, but didn’t know about the text. Later, she learned that Michael had offered to help Ebby. He took Laurie home and tried to contact Ebby to create a plan. Ebby had spent the entire day with her grandparents and was just about to leave their home at 8 p.m., telling them that she was going to meet her stepfather.
Laurie stated, “I’m thankful that I wasn’t informed about that text and about what happened.” “Because I am sure I would have been panicked and rushed to get over. Ebby was able to spend the last day with her grandparents. That’s what has brought me comfort.”
Ebby stopped responding to Michael later that night. Ebby never answered her grandmother’s phone calls. She also never made it to the station. She was silent for almost 24 hours.
Ebby called Trevor the next night at 5:30 p.m. and said that she was in her car but didn’t know her location. Their mother Laurie said that he remembered her sounding disoriented, confused and panicked.
Ebby was gone.
Laurie stated, “That was when Trevor told me something was seriously wrong.” “And I became hysterical.”
Ebby’s family reached out to everyone they knew, and to anyone they believed might have been in touch with Ebby. However, no one knew where Ebby was. They called the police. They were immediately stopped.
Laurie stated that she was told by the police that they couldn’t make a report on the incident for 12 hours. We had to wait. We filed a report on October 26, in the middle of the evening, as soon as we were able to do so.
Ebby’s friends and family had already taken matters into their hands and started passing out flyers around town in the hope that someone would see her. They became increasingly worried as the time went by.
Laurie stated, “I just knew it. Everything in my soul, I knew that something had happened.”
Ebby’s Volkswagen Passat, parked in Chalamont Park, was discovered a few days later. Ebby’s keys, phone, purse, makeup, and contact lenses were all found in her car.
Ebby’s makeup was what most worried her mother.
Laurie stated that Laurie saved her money and bought really good makeup. It was all over the car. She would have taken her makeup if she had been a ‘runaway’, as the police kept claiming. Her contacts, too. She was not a runaway. She experienced something.”
Little Rock Police Department officers searched the park but found nothing. Laurie said that Ebby was still being called a “runaway” by Dateline investigators and promised Laurie she would be back soon.
Ebby, however, didn’t come back.
This case was made national news. People from all walks of the globe contacted Little Rock Police Department and the Family with fake tips. Some even claimed to be holding Ebby hostage and demanded money for her safe return.
Ebby’s family was left with a nightmare as they saw the mistakes police made and believed that Ebby’s case wasn’t being taken seriously.
Tommy Hudson, now a retired Little Rock Police homicide detective, took over Ebby’s case in 2017. Although he had already retired in the previous year, he returned to assist with the cold case unit just months later.
Hudson told Dateline that mistakes were made in the case early on, before he was hired to solve it. Hudson explained that interviewing key witnesses had not been done and that surveillance footage hadn’t been checked.
Hudson stated, “Why this wasn’t done? I don’t know.” “It was our responsibility to clean up the mess, and to start over.
He began to investigate the case and was determined to find the solution.
Hudson stated, “There was some evidence that we were looking at that was located at the scene where she first disappeared that bothered our hearts.” It was something that I couldn’t shake. “I wanted to go back to the park.”
Hudson said to Dateline that he was following a gut instinct and felt the need to revisit the park where Ebby’s car had been found in 2015.
He said that there was a drain pipe near the car and that it had rained during the days she went missing. “So I thought she might have been washed into a pipe, which would have made finding her more difficult.”
Hudson obtained maps from the city of drainage pipes and led a team down to Chalamont Park where they took cameras down the pipes.
He said, “It was a gut feel with all of us.” “Something was there. It was Ebby, I knew.
Hudson was granted permission to remove the pipe section after the equipment encountered obstructions at both ends.
Hudson stated, “The bulldozer pulled the blockage up and turned around to see her right in front of my eyes.” It was clear that it was her.
Ebby’s remains could be found just 60 feet away from the spot where her car was found two years ago.
Laurie was devastated when Ebby’s remains turned up. She was furious when she learned that Ebby’s remains had been discovered so close to her car and could have been found sooner.
She said that Ebby would have been found immediately and we wouldn’t be stuck with this nightmare. We could have put her down. We could have located her killer by now.
Hudson wouldn’t tell Dateline about Ebby’s death, as it would hinder the investigation. However, he stated that her death was being investigated as a murder.
He added that they had persons of interest and interviewed multiple people in the case, but that no one has been named as a suspect.
Ebby’s friends and family just want to know the truth.
Laurie stated that she believed she would still be alive if they found her within a week. But if Tommy had been there and found her in a week they would have found the culprit and we wouldn’t have to continue living this nightmare. It has been a difficult time for our whole family.”
Trevor, Ebby’s older brother and a victim of the same fate, was not able to bear the burden of his sister’s death and disappearance. He died from a massive heart attack at the age of 35.
Laurie, his mother, told Dateline that he felt it was too hard on his heart. “And the burden that I was the last to speak to Ebby.”
Laurie claimed that she found out later that Trevor spent his lunch hour searching for Ebby’s car trunks and looking for clues.
She said that he never lost sight of her and continued to search for the truth. “When he passed away, I thought that he knew what had happened to her.” He now has the answers he was searching for.”
Tommy Hudson, who was the lead investigator in her case at that time, continued to work on Ebby’s murder even after the search for her body ended in 2018.
The case was once again stalled when Hudson announced that he would be retiring again and moving across the river to help the North Little Rock Police Department cold-case unit.
Laurie stated, “He came in to save the day on Ebby’s case.” “But someone else needs him now.”
Hudson informed Dateline that Ebby has a new investigator assigned and that he believes in his investigative abilities. Detective Bruce Maxwell can access all Hudson’s case work and is in constant contact.
Little Rock Police Department issued a statement shortly after Hudson’s retirement announcement.
“The Little Rock Police Department is determined to work together to solve all cold cases, particularly the Ebby steppach case. The cold case unit is made up of retired police officers who are experienced investigators. They will work together on any developments in this case.”
Laurie, Ebby’s mom, told Dateline that Hudson left her heartbreakingly but she is optimistic Maxwell will resolve the case and get justice for Ebby.
Laurie stated, “My faith is so strong that I trust God will answer my questions.” “But regardless of what happens, I have peace. Ebby isn’t the only reason I have peace. I feel at peace knowing Trevor and Ebby are not alone. They are together. All other? All else?
Anybody with information regarding Ebby Steppach’s situation is asked to contact the Little Rock Police Department Cold Case Unit (501) 404-3128,