Girl's death 20 years ago re-examined after Rock County arrest
ROCKFORD (WREX) - A 15 year-old girl from Hononegah High disappeared 20 years ago, only to turn up dead in the Rock River. Now her case is being re-examined by investigators all these years later.
Stephanie Johnston's death investigation file at the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department has been turned over to the lead agencies working the Terence Doddy murder investigations at her family's request, according to Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro.
Johnston went to Hononegah High with Doddy. Her family said the two were dating at the time she disappeared in October 1993. The Sheriff's Department classified her as a runaway.
Her body was found frozen in the Rock River that December.
Johnston's death was ruled a drowning by the coroner, but a pathologist could not determine how she drowned. Her body changed after it thawed, according to the coroner, who said no signs of trauma were found during the autopsy.
That is all detectives had to work with back then.
"There were no witnesses to the incident," said Iasparro.
Then in the last two weeks, Johnston's boyfriend at the time became a double murder suspect.
Doddy is charged with the murder of his friend, Todd Hansmeier, at a Rockford call center. He is also a suspect in the murder of Tonya Bargman at a Paw Paw rest stop that same week.
He is not a suspect nor a person of interest in Stephanie Johnston's death. Still, deputies felt compelled to re-examine Johnston's death as it relates to her boyfriend at the time.
"Based on that association, the circumstances she was found in the river and the fact that this information has surfaced at this point, we felt it appropriate to resurrect this," said Iasparro.
Again, Doddy is not a suspect or a person of interest in Stephanie Johnston's death.
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