Attention all couch detectives! The FBI is hoping you can help them out.
In 1992, Tammy Zywicki disappeared. The Iowa college student was driving from her home in New Jersey to college when she was last seen alive on August 23, 1992. She was standing next to her broken-down Pontiac T1000 on the interstate.
Her car was found abandoned by a state trooper that afternoon, and that evening her mom reported her missing.
Zywicki's body was found a week later in Missouri, wrapped in a blanket and covered with duct tape. She had been stabbed and strangled.
Witnesses say they saw Zywicki on the interstate, with a tractor-trailer parked behind her car. Others say it was a pickup truck, not a trailer.
The FBI worked with state police to form a task force to try and solve Zywicki's case. They looked at any possible relations to other cases. Any truck or tractor driver suspected in other murder cases or sexual attacks were looked at. The search spread from California to North Carolina, but nothing showed up. One year after the investigation started, the task force disbanded.
But now police think they might have a lead, and they need your help.
One week before the 25th anniversary of Zywicki's disappearance, the FBI is reaching out to the public for help in finding her killer.
"After 25 years, the murder of 21-year-old Tammy Zywicki remains unsolved, but the FBI and the Illinois State Police believe new techniques for testing DNA may help reveal the killer’s identity," the FBI posted on Facebook.
“These cold case homicides are always difficult cases,” said Lt. Jeff Padilla, an Illinois State Police detective who has been working on the investigation for the past six years, “but this case has so much evidence that still exists, it should help us be able to bring justice to Tammy and her family.”
The bureau now has access to new forensic techniques for DNA extraction, and believe re-testing the 200 pieces of physical evidence they have could help crack the case.
“I’m hopeful this new technology will help us,” Padilla said. “I am convinced the DNA and the suspect are in the case file. It’s just a question of finding them.”
That's where the public comes in. Many of Zywicki's items are still missing, such as her Cannon 35mm camera, a wristwatch with an umbrella on the face, and a distinctive patch issues by Zywicki's soccer team for only one year. All of them are believed to have been kept by the killer. The FBI is hoping people who might recognize these items step
“There continues to be a $50,000 reward offered in this case,” she added. “Even after 25 years, a concerned citizen doing the right thing can help us solve this case.”
Though it has been 25 years since her daughter was killed, JoAnn Zywicki is not giving up hope of catching her killer.
“I’m glad to see they are pursuing that,” she said. “It’s good to see the FBI and the Illinois State Police working together.” She added that her daughter’s tragedy “has brought a lot of attention to how many cold cases we have, and that’s important.”.
“It always amazes me how many people remember Tammy in different ways,” she said. “She did make her mark. She would have been a very successful person. She was well rounded and had a lot of interests, and she was very motivated.”
If you have any information on Tammy's disappearance, you are encouraged to contact your local FBI office or submit a tip online.