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Human remains found in drainage pipe at west Little Rock park searched previously in missing teen case

By Ryan Tarinelli

This article was originally published May 22, 2018 at 1:18 p.m. Updated May 22, 2018 at 2:26 p.m.

authorities-investigate-after-human-remains-were-found-at-chalamont-park-on-tuesday

Authorities investigate after human remains were found at Chalamont Park on Tuesday.

Ebby Steppach, left, and a display set up for her at Chalamont Park in west Little Rock.

Human remains have been found at a west Little Rock park searched previously in the disappearance of Ebby Steppach. (Photo by Little Rock Police Depar...

Chalamont Park

Police are investigating after human remains were discovered inside a drainage pipe at a west Little Rock park that has been searched in the past in connection with the disappearance of Ebby Steppach.

Little Rock Police Department spokesman Steve Moore said cold case investigators following up in the investigation into Steppach's disappearance returned to Chalamont Park on Tuesday morning after deciding "that we need to look in a drainage pipe that runs here down the back of the park."

Moore said workers from the city Public Works department helped dig up the pipe, and the remains were found inside it around 10:30 a.m.

Little Rock officers, the Pulaski County coroner and officials with the FBI were on scene at the park Tuesday afternoon. The remains have not yet been identified, and it wasn't clear how long it would take to do so.

Authorities in 2016 combed the area around the park in search of Steppach, who was 18 years old when she went missing in October 2015.

Her car was found in the parking lot of the park at 20600 Chalamont Drive about a week after she was reported missing.

[IN-DEPTH: A closer look at the Ebby Steppach case]

According to the initial police report, Steppach's mother, Laurie Jernigan, told investigators that she last saw her daughter Oct. 24, 2015, two days before she reported her missing.

Steppach had talked with her brother the day before she was reported missing, but she refused to give her location and hung up the phone before turning it off, according to the report.

Jernigan told police that her son said Steppach "sounded like she was high on drugs," according to the Oct. 26, 2015, report.

Jernigan told police that Steppach had moved out about three weeks before she was reported missing, the report said.

The 2016 search of the park ended with police finding no additional clues in Steppach's disappearance.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Arkansas Online's Polly Irungu and Gavin Lesnick contributed to this story.

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Comments on: Human remains found in drainage pipe at west Little Rock park searched previously in missing teen case

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 total comments

DoubleBlind says... May 22, 2018 at 6:12 p.m.

Regardless of whom the remains turn out to be, this will reflect very badly on LRPD and investigators who have evidently searched the same spot on more than one occasion since Steppach’s disappearance. Did they not use available technology which should have alerted them to something in the pipe? Or was the technology not available? Why didn’t they dig up the pipe anyway? There will be a lot of questions.

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OKelley says... May 22, 2018 at 7:47 p.m.

Why don’t the law enforcement agencies use dogs when searching for missing people in a designated area where the missing person was known to have been. Surely those tracking dogs would have tracked her scent and found her body years ago. Bless her little heart and soul.

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NoUserName says... May 22, 2018 at 8:45 p.m.

They do use dogs. Pulaski County has a S&R team. Whether it was used in this case I don't know. Nor do I know why if it wasn't.

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MaryMaryQuiteContrary says... May 22, 2018 at 9:34 p.m.

If the pipe had to be dug up to find the remains, it’s likely tracking dogs wouldn’t have picked up on the scent anyways. But I’m not really following the pipe needing to be dug up. Makes it sound like she was put in there and then it was installed, but that makes no sense and is highly unlikely. A sad story, regardless. Maybe this will give her family some much needed closure. As a parent I can’t imagine what they’ve gone through and the constant agony of not knowing where your child is or if they’re okay. Prayers for them all.

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Jfish says... May 22, 2018 at 11:21 p.m.

I am sure we do not have all the facts, but I tend to agree with DB, you would think that all the drainage structures in the park would have been the first place searchers would have looked. Sad story, but from the previous stories that I have read, this young girl was running with the wrong crowd and probably underestimated their potential for violence.

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LR1955 says... May 23, 2018 at 12:16 a.m.

There are several links in the above online story, here’s a piece out of one of them from 2016:

“The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provided bloodhounds for the search this week. Archaeologists from the Arkansas Archaeological Survey also participated.”

Bloodhounds may not be high-tech but they have excellent sniffing senses but can’t smell something under water. Perhaps the remains were surmerged.

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