Anne Roderique-Jones grew up amid the case of the Three Missing Women in Springfield, a 30-year-old unsolved disappearance. About two years ago, Roderique-Jones set out to retell the story that impacted not only her life but the entire community.
In her podcast, “The Springfield Three: A Small-Town Disappearance,” Roderique-Jones explores the disappearance of Stacy McCall, Suzanne “Suzie” Streeter and Sherrill Levitt. The three women went missing in June 1992; what happened to them remains a mystery.
The podcast, available on all podcast streaming platforms, had received more than a million downloads, as of April.
“I always wanted to tell this story,” Roderique-Jones, who was 12 years old that summer, said. “I just didn’t know the right platform for it. Then, I started listening to true crime. A true crime podcast really allows you to tell a story thoroughly, and it’s kind of open-ended.”
Today, Roderique-Jones lives between New York and New Orleans with her husband. She is a travel writer and the head of content at Sherman’s Travel, a travel-guide publication. True crime and podcasting were foreign to her, she said.
After researching different podcasting production companies, she landed on editaudio. Initial conversations began in late 2019 and by the start of 2020, production was underway.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roderique-Jones and the editaudio team were able to visit Springfield for a few days to interview folks, including McCall’s mother Janis McCall and the first police officer at the scene in ’92, Rick Bookout. Remaining interviews were conducted over phone calls and Zoom.
Over eight episodes and three bonus episodes, Roderique-Jones interviewed friends and family of the women, more police officers and detectives, and journalists who were on the ground reporting the case.
Navigating new journalistic territory
Interviewing wasn’t new for Roderique-Jones, a journalist who’s worked in the magazine industry for several years. But learning how to create a safe interviewing environment for those who may have trauma was. She also learned how to balance reporting between those who were directly impacted by the disappearance, like Janis McCall, and others who worked on the case, like law enforcement.
“You want to show them that you are making something, creating something for them to tell their story,” Roderique-Jones said.
As episodes were released, Roderique-Jones began to receive emails and messages on social media from those who claimed they had information about the case.
More: What happened to Springfield’s Three Missing Women? Upcoming podcast explores the unsolved case
In bonus episode, “Clues Hidden in the Attic,” Roderique-Jones interviewed a woman who closely knew Robert Craig Cox, a potential suspect. This woman’s intimate perspective about Cox was one of the first shared with the public.
Over the course of 15 years before the disappearance of Stacy, Suzie and Sherill, Cox was a primary suspect in a Florida murder case, according to Florida court documents. He was also found guilty of kidnapping and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon in California. While Cox was sentenced to the death penalty in Florida for his supposed involvement with a murder, the Florida Supreme Court ended up reversing his conviction, as there was not enough substantial evidence
In 1991, Cox returned to Springfield, his hometown, after being released from prison. In episode five of the podcast, “Serial Killers and Potential Suspects,” Roderique-Jones said it was rumored Cox worked for Stacy’s father at a car dealership. However, there is no proof Cox interacted with or knew Stacy. He also had a possible alibi for the night the women went missing: the mother of the woman whom Roderique-Jones interviewed in “Clues Hidden in the Attic.”
In another bonus episode, Roderique-Jones interviewed Bartt Streeter, son of Sherrill and brother of Suzie. In earlier podcast episodes, Roderique-Jones mentioned how Bartt often avoided talking with members of the media, as he, at one time, was a potential suspect. However, after several months, she was able to secure an interview with him — a perspective not many have heard.
“It was nice that we were able to earn that trust to speak with (Bartt),” she said. “He felt vulnerable enough to spend hours on the phone with me and tell his story about his mom and sister.”
In early 2019, Bartt’s name resurfaced after he was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, disorderly conduct and attempted false imprisonment in Smyrna, Tennessee. Reports of the arrest led online commenters to speculate about his involvement in the Three Missing Women case. The Streeter family issued a statement rebuking the speculation and reiterating that Bartt has always been cooperative with Springfield police during their investigation into the disappearances.
The case of the Three Missing Women
Those who are from Springfield are most likely familiar with the story of the Three Missing Women.
Stacy, 18, and Suzie, 19, graduated from Kickapoo High School on June 6, 1992. After attending a few parties that evening, the two returned to Suzie’s house, where she lived with her mother, Sherrill, 47. This is the last place the three women were said to be seen.
The women’s cars, clothing and purses were all seemingly untouched inside the house. The front porch light was broken and the front door was unlocked, but otherwise, the house appeared to be in order. An investigation including numerous law enforcement agencies, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was conducted with no definitive leads.
For several years, the Three Missing Women captivated the front page of newspapers and television sets. Within the first few days, CBS’ “48 Hours” did an episode about the case, bringing national attention to Springfield.
Since the disappearance 30 years ago, numerous theories have circulated. Roderique-Jones explores many of these throughout the podcast, specifically in episode four, “Grave Robbers, A Haunted Girl Scout Camp and Other Theories.”
More: 28 years later, Springfield’s unsolved Three Missing Women case inspires a new mystery novel
Some believe the women were targeted by Suzie’s ex-boyfriend, who was arrested for robbing a mausoleum in Springfield. Others think the women were killed at Winoka Lodge, known for hosting Camp Winoka near Lake Springfield.
Another stubborn theory is that the women were buried underneath Cox South Hospital’s parking garage during its construction. Cox did offer to let police dig up the garage, but this was never done as police didn’t find the tip credible.
More theories are outlined in episode seven, “The Questions That Remain,” where Roderique-Jones looked into Sherrill’s past and recently discussed ideas brought to local law enforcement and journalists.
SPD has labeled the Three Missing Women as a cold case. Anyone with information about the disappearance is requested to contact SPD at 417-864-1810 or Crime Stoppers at 471-869-8477 or P3tips.com.
Thirty years since the women went missing, the McCall family is hosting a vigil at Phelps Grove Park, located at 950 E. Bennett St., on June 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Exploring Feeney family unsolved murders case in season two
Following the success of “The Springfield Three: A Small-Town Disappearance,” Roderique-Jones is working on her second true crime podcast with editaudio. The show will explore the case of the Feeney family.
In 1995, Cheryl Feeney and her children Tyler and Jennifer were found dead at their home in Springfield. The murders remain a mystery.
Roderique-Jones and the editaudio team are visiting Springfield in June to begin interviews. A name and release dates have yet to be determined.
Greta Cross is the trending topics reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gretacrossphoto. Story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org