20 years later, Tammy Zywicki's murder remains unsolved - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

20 years later, Tammy Zywicki's murder remains unsolved

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20 years since their daughter was abducted along I-80 and murdered, the family of Tammy Zywicki is hoping that someone with information might come forward and help solve the crime.

The case made headlines in 1992 when the 21-year-old co-ed disappeared, but went cold after a task force handling the case was disbanded a year after Zywicki was murdered. State police and the FBI are now revisiting the investigation.

Zywicki's parents, now living in Ocala, Florida are hoping the renewed interest will finally bring them justice and peace.

Tammy was on her way to Grinnell College in Iowa on August 23rd, 1992 when her car broke down along Interstate 80 near LaSalle, Illinois. She was last seen by a witness talking to a man in a green Datsun pickup who had stopped to help. Nine days later,her body was found in Missouri, wrapped in a blanket, and sealed in duct tape. She'd been raped and stabbed to death.

Tammy's parents, Hank and JoAnn talked with FOX News Chicago via Skype from their home in Florida.

"It's just something you live with day to day, you try to deal with it, you put it on the back burner, but I've been amazed at how much it has hit me, it's been 20 years," said JoAnn.

The two had flown to Chicago after Tammy disappeared to work with State Police and plead for help. Two decades later they can't help but think about what might have been.

"…the unfulfilled part of life, to see her graduate college, get married, and have children of her own, it's pretty tough," Hank Zywicki added.

Over the years the investigation sputtered. At one point it focused on Bruce Mendenhall, a Southern Illinois trucker arrested in 2007 and charged with murdering a young woman at a Nashville truck stop. He was suspected other murders too.

But retired State Police Master Sergeant Marty McCarthy, who was on the Zywicki task force, believes the best suspect was a man named Lonnie Bierbrodt, who died in 2002.

"He was from LaSalle Peru, he was a trucker, he was a two time convicted violent felon, he lived in Pierce City, Missouri near where the body was found."

McCarthy says a credible witness saw Bierbrodt stopped along the side of the road talking to Zywicki. Bierbrodt, investigators found, was in the area visiting his brother at the time.

Then, there was Zywicki's very distinctive watch that was missing.

"The victim's watch, a musical watch that played ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on Your Head,' ended up in the possession of the suspect, he subsequently gave it to his wife."

Bierbrodt's wife told a LaSalle County nurse that Lonnie had given it to her.

But, regardless of who was responsible, Zywicki's parents hope someone's conscience might prompt them to finally come forward, to give them closure.

Tammy's mother says she will never give up hope.

"I always keep an open mind to it in everything, and I just feel that there's a chance that this can be solved, that something can happen."

If you have any information on this case, the FBI is offering a $50,000 reward to anyone that helps solve the case.

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