CHICAGO - Nearly after year after the abduction and murder of Tammy Zywicki,
state police concede that the trail to her killer has grown cold.
"I think that everyone who has worked on the case is frustrated," said Sgt.
Bill Hammell, an Illinois State Police investigator leading the Zywicki probe.
"We have nothing new at all," he added.
Most recently, police were investigating a possible link between the Zywicki
murder and the arrest of a Colorado truck driver for the attempted beating and
strangulation murder of a 14-year-old girl.
Authorities said several pieces of bloodied clothing were found in the man's
semi-tractor trailer and efforts were made to determine whether any of the
items belonged to Zywicki.
Police identified the trucker as William James Bannister, 45, of Aurora,
Colo., who in 1979 was convicted of second-degree murder in California.
"But as far as we're concerned he doesn't seem to be a lead any longer,"
"We found no connection between the clothing found in the truck and Tammy
Zywicki. There also doesn't appear to be any reason for him to have been out
here (in Illinois) on the weekend Tammy disappeared," he added.
"He (Bannister) doesn't look good, but we pursue everything similar to
this," said Sgt. Harold Hendrickson, another state police investigator.
Zywicki, 21, disappeared Aug. 23, 1992, after her 1985 Pontiac T-1000
overheated and broke down on Interstate 80 about six miles east of LaSalle.
She was on her way from her parent's home in New Jersey to Grinnell College
in Iowa where she was starting her senior year.
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Her partially decomposed body was found more than a week later near the town
of Sarcoxie, Mo., after a trucker reported seeing what appeared to be a body
wrapped in a taped-up blanket along rural Interstate 44.
Sgt. Matt Brown of the Missouri Highway Patrol said that Zywicki likely was
killed elsewhere and her body dumped along the highway -- possibly by a trucker.
An autopsy determined that Zywicki was stabbed at least seven times.
Despite an intense investigation by Illinois, Missouri and federal
authorities, "we really haven't run across anything significant on the case,"
Lawrence County (Mo.) Sheriff David Tatum said.
"It may be one (of those murders) that may be a while in solving," he
admitted. "What we need is a break in the case, maybe someone's girlfriend or
someone's employer who finds something out."
Police continue to focus most of their efforts on locating a mystery truck
driver who may have talked to Zywicki shortly before she disappeared.
The driver's truck is described as a white, five-axle semitrailer with
brownish diagonal stripes on both the trailer and cab. It was seen parked near
Zywicki's car along I-80.
Although authorities have pursued more than 700 leads in the case and come
up empty, they believe Zywicki's killer will be caught.
"I feel it could happen any day because sooner or later somebody will come
through. Sometime, someplace we're going to get this guy," Hendrickson said.
"The problem with an interstate case like this is that there's a lot of
miles involved, a lot of ins and outs," he added.