In August of 1992, Tammy Zywicki was excited to make the relatively short drive from Evanston to Grinnell College in Iowa.
The 21 year old was actually travelling to school from her home in New Jersey, but had stopped in Evanston to drop off her brother at Northwestern University.
Sadly, Tammy was never seen alive again. Her car was found abandoned on the shoulder of Interstate 80 in LaSalle County. Nine days later, her body was found on the side of a road in far southern Missouri, wrapped in a blanket bound with duct tape. She had been stabbed repeatedly.
Twenty-five years later, the case has never been solved. Initially, authorities focused on an unusual white truck with an orange stripe which some witnesses said they had seen on the shoulder of the road Tammy’s car. But that lead never panned out.
Still, the evidence remains. A visit to the State Police District Headquarters near Joliet reveals a series of cabinets, still filled with the Zywicki case files. And now, investigators say they hope to turn to new and more advanced DNA testing techniques, in hopes of a match which might lead them to the girl’s killer.
“There is some cutting edge DNA testing that we would like to have done that we think is important,” said Lt. Jeffrey Padilla with the Illinois State Police. “We have identified a potential private partner that would be able to assist us in some of the most cutting edge technology that is out there.”
Hundreds of leads were explored, including promising suspects. Padilla says that effort to potentially match names to the crime, is very active today.
“We have successfully eliminated a number of people that we had previously listed as persons of interest,” he said. “And we continue to focus on one suspect in particular and are making efforts toward bringing this case to fruition.”
Padilla would not elaborate on that person, beyond saying that he is alive, and is a good potential suspect.
Investigators released a new image of a patch from Tammy’s soccer club. The patch was among her belongings, but was missing when her car was found along I-80.
“We continue to work this investigation into what happened to Tammy as an active police investigation,” he said.
Toward that end both the State Police and the FBI have issued renewed pleas to the public for information.
“It’s been 25 years—people change—relationships change,” said FBI Special Agent Garrett Croon. “Someone out there knows who killed Tammy Zywicki.”
In the meantime, much has changed. Tammy’s parents moved to Florida, and her father Hank died, never having learned who killed his daughter. But Tammy’s mother JoAnn says she continues to hold out hope.
“I hope this time we’re going to get someone who’s going to finally come through with some information that’s going to solve this case,” she told NBC5. “And we’re going to know what happened.”
Tammy Zywicki would now be 46 years old. JoAnn Zywicki says resolution of the case would hopefully mean peace for Tammy and her father.
“I like the reminders of Tammy,” her mother said. “They’re around the house and I think of her a lot. But they’re not bad reminders. They’re happy thoughts.”
There is still a $50,000 reward in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Illinois State Police, at 815-726-6377, or the FBI Chicago Field Division, at 312-421-6700.
Published at 12:23 AM CDT on Aug 23, 2017 | Updated at 12:43 AM CDT on Aug 23, 2017