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Human remains found in west Little Rock park identified as missing teen

By Brandon Riddle

This article was originally published May 23, 2018 at 6:20 p.m. Updated May 23, 2018 at 7:17 p.m.

ebby-steppach-left-and-a-display-set-up-for-her-at-chalamont-park-in-west-little-rock

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

Human remains found Tuesday at a west Little Rock park have been identified as Ebby Steppach, whose car was discovered there shortly after her disappearance in 2015.

The remains were located inside a drainage pipe after investigators with the Little Rock Police Department’s cold-case unit went to Chalamont Park for a follow-up in the Steppach case.

Police confirmed the identification in a video posted to the department's social media accounts Wednesday evening.

A statement released on the Official: Find Ebby Steppach Facebook page said her family would like to thank "all of you who have supported efforts to find Ebby. It has been through your support, many prayers and God’s strength that they have been able to make this journey. God hears and answers all prayers. Yesterday, God answered the family’s prayers to find Ebby."

A celebration of life will be held at Christ Community Church, 16603 Cantrell Road, on Saturday at 2 p.m., according to the post.

[TIMELINE: The Ebby Steppach case]

Steppach’s car was found days after she went missing in late October 2015. She was 18 at that time.

On Tuesday morning, the city’s Public Works Department raised the pipe for police at the back of the park, at which point investigators found skeletal remains.

The park had also been canvassed over a three-day span in November 2016, with help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Steppach’s mother, Laurie Jernigan, told police that she had last seen her daughter Oct. 24, 2015, two days before she was reported missing.

According to the initial police report, Steppach had talked to her brother before her disappearance. He reportedly refused to say where she was and hung up the phone before turning it off.

Jernigan described an account from her son that referred to Steppach sounding “like she was high on drugs.”

[IN-DEPTH LOOK: Story, photos, audio on the search for Ebby Steppach]

Steppach reportedly called her brother Oct. 25, 2015, sounding panicked, Jernigan previously told an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter.

The teen's 2003 Volkswagen Passat was found five days later at Chalamont Park. Its gas tank was empty and battery was dead, and the keys were still in the ignition, police said.

Steppach’s disappearance drew widespread attention in the years after she went missing. A Facebook group had more than 19,000 followers as of Wednesday, and billboards and flyers were plastered with Steppach’s face.

In December, with the support of a private investigator hired by Steppach’s family, the teen’s story was featured in an episode of Dr. Phil.

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

Information for this article was contributed by Ryan Tarinelli and Ginny Monk of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Jillian Kremer of Arkansas Online.

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Comments on: Human remains found in west Little Rock park identified as missing teen

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TravisBickle says... May 23, 2018 at 6:33 p.m.

Sad. I hope the family gets justice.

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Razrbak says... May 23, 2018 at 6:47 p.m.

Colossal screwed up investigation by LRPD.

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mookye says... May 23, 2018 at 7:11 p.m.

I wonder if they got a tip. Why else would they dig up the drainage pipe? Why wasn't that drainage pipe searched before now?? So many unanswered questions.
Just glad that her family has finally gotten some answers and can give her a proper burial. Prayers for her family, I hope they find the monster that did this.

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HarleyOwner says... May 23, 2018 at 7:15 p.m.

What a shame. Hopefully the new detectives on the case can solve the crime.

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TravisBickle says... May 23, 2018 at 7:20 p.m.

Doesn't sound like the LRPD treated this case like a missing person in the beginning.

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NoUserName says... May 23, 2018 at 7:39 p.m.

"Why wasn't that drainage pipe searched before now??"
.
Previous article indicated that it was back during the inital search in '15. The questions surrounding LRPD, this search, and the earlier search are pretty obvious. Hoped for a better ending but at least the family finally has an answer, sad though it may be.

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PopMom says... May 23, 2018 at 8:26 p.m.

So sad. What a beautiful girl. My heart goes out to her family.

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mrcharles says... May 23, 2018 at 8:30 p.m.

Something isn't right.

There should be an investigation of the investigation.

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Packman says... May 23, 2018 at 9:57 p.m.

So incredibly sad. Keeping good thoughts for the family.
.
Now, how in the hell did they not find her during the initial search? I specifically recall police spokespeople saying the search was "exhaustive". Only two conclusions to draw. Either the initial investigators were incredibly incompetent or somehow complicit.

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Bunnyflyer says... May 23, 2018 at 10:14 p.m.

May you get the justice your daughter deserves. Prayers for all, having lost my son to a girl texting and driving, it’s a journey through the mound of emotions you’ll go through. God bless you.

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