Editor’s note: The following is the 12th installment in a series about the disappearance of 21-year-old Veronica Blumhorst, who vanished Sept. 20, 1990, after finishing her shift at a Mendota, Illinois, grocery store.
MENDOTA – If a volunteer group tasked with solving the case of Veronica Blumhorst is successful, it will close a chapter in Mendota’s history that has been open for nearly 30 years.
The team says it is following new leads in the case and is planning a search that will attempt to connect dots they say haven’t been connected by police since Veronica vanished. The search was initially going to include an area west of Bartlett Woods Nature Preserve near the town of Sublette, Illinois, but will now include multiple locations.
The new plan took shape after details emerged about a possible romantic relationship Veronica had with a married man around the time she vanished. Blumhorst family spokesman, Mendota native Doug Truckenbrod, told The Times there is reason to believe the man may have answers to why police dogs lost Veronica’s scent just a few hundred feet from the Blumhorst garage on Sept. 20, 1990. But because he has never been questioned, Mendotans familiar with the case have been left to run with a theory that Veronica’s boyfriend was responsible for her disappearance.
“I think it’s necessary to search in and around the old Blumhorst residence and near neighborhood homes,” Truckenbrod said.
The theory that Veronica’s boyfriend killed her has grown legs primarily because he told police he may have “lost his mind” and hurt her because he thought she was pregnant. But because nothing has ever been found to connect him to a crime scene, the supposition remains a loose end. What led the boyfriend to give such statements is also a mystery, one that could be solved if police released transcripts of the interview.
Truckenbrod said hasn’t discounted the boyfriend theory but isn’t convinced of it either, especially since previously unknown details of Veronica’s personal life have since emerged.
Truckenbrod said the new search, tentatively planned for March, may also include Bartlett Woods and possibly an area near Woodhaven Lakes camping resort. Todd Blumhorst, Veronica’s brother, hired a cadaver dog team to sniff part of the nature preserve in 2012, but was not part of the follow-up expedition two years later because he died from cancer in 2013. The dogs did hit on what officials said may be human remains but it’s too difficult to speculate. Since the dogs are trained to smell remains that could be 200 or more years old and no digging was done in 2014, there’s been little to go on.
Months after Veronica disappeared, police dogs searched Lee County farmland owned by her boyfriend’s family but found nothing. The search was based on his odd police statements; he’s given only one public comment since, telling the Journal Star, “I’ve been told not to say anything.” It was later learned he obtained an attorney.
In 1990, Paul and Betty Blumhorst, who have since left Mendota, told police that while her boyfriend made Veronica happy, they believed he was capable of harming her. Today, steeped in grief of outliving two children, the aging couple is focussed on what Truckenbrod says is his team’s main focus: locating the missing girl’s remains.
“We just want to find out where she is so we can properly bury our daughter,” Paul said. “We just want some closure.”
This article was originally published Jan. 21, 2020, in The Rock River Times. The FBI has since taken over the investigation into the disappearance of Veronica Blumhorst.