Rockford, Illinois News

The Veronica Blumhorst Case, Part 15: The origin

Editor’s note: The following is the 15th installment in the series centered on the disappearance of 21-year-old Veronica Blumhorst, who finished her shift at a Mendota, Illinois, grocery store Sept. 20, 1990, and hasn’t been seen since.

MENDOTA, Ill. – Most people who remember the Veronica Blumhorst case recall the theory that her 22-year-old boyfriend was responsible for her disappearance.

Those who weren’t around in 1990 but know of Veronica undoubtedly have heard the boyfriend theory, too. And while there’s been chatter about other “suspects” over the years, Hollywood tells us the boyfriend is always the No. 1 suspect. That was driven home in Veronica’s case when her current beau was brought in for questioning on Sept. 23, 1990, three days after Blumhorst disappeared, and a police report naming him a suspect was leaked to the public. But, from where did the boyfriend theory come?

It was during the initial interview Veronica’s 22-year-old boyfriend reportedly told Mendota Police Investigator John Pakenham that he may have “lost his mind” and hurt her because he thought she was pregnant. But he couldn’t recall if they argued or if he was even with her that night as an old head injury left him with memory problems.

Since the boyfriend’s odd comments, several questions have swirled over that initial interview. Did this 22-year-old kid voluntarily come to the police station alone and start incriminating himself in what is likely a homicide? Such things do happen in criminal cases, so it wouldn’t be completely out of the question. It would give an interviewing officer even more to go on if the subject mentioned something of note, for example, that his girlfriend may be pregnant.

Because the transcripts of the boyfriend’s interview have not been released, it is not known how a pregnancy became part of the conversation. Did the young man slip? Or was the interviewing officer fishing? According to transcripts of another interview, there’s a different answer.

On Sept. 22, 1990, the day before Veronica’s boyfriend was questioned by police, her family, along with friend Dennis Saam, contacted noted Illinois psychic Greta Alexander for help. Teams had already scoured the countryside looking for Veronica and found nothing. So the desperate family turned to Alexander’s connection to the spirit world.

Beginning at the Blumhorst garage a group that included Saam and Veronica’s boyfriend, piled into a van and called Alexander on a cell phone. With the psychic guiding them, the van proceeded out of Mendota to find the missing clerk.

The driver went where Alexander directed. When she said said to turn near a farm, the driver complied. When Greta said to find a wooded area, the van continued, passing a series of important clues. They drove by a silo, an abandoned house, and bridge, things the psychic said were leading them to Veronica.

Just as police would theorize, Alexander claimed Veronica drove home from work just after 1 a.m., Sept, 20, and parked her car. She was then approached by someone in another vehicle. She “didn’t take much with her,” the psychic noted in the transcript, when she got into a truck, or maybe a Bronco or a van, with someone she knew.

“Greta can see Veronica getting out of her car and saying, ‘What are you doing here?’ Saam, on the phone with Alexander, said. “The person says, ‘Come here, I have something to show you.” Veronica turns off the lights, shuts the garage door and gets in the vehicle with the person.”

The vehicle, according the Greta Alexander, took Veronica down a bumpy road near a lake and a ravine. She was 18 or 20 miles from home, she said.

There was also a fight. Veronica was pushed against a wall when the struggle began and punched in the face inside the vehicle. It was not an ordinary argument. It was about her health, possibly a baby, the transcript notes.

Alexander said Veronica was cold; her face, legs and side hurt. She was later face-down in the grass, dead. End of story? Not quite. Alexander’s involvement doesn’t end there. Her biggest contribution still awaited.

After chatting with Alexander about an abandoned house, Saam handed the phone to another person in the group, someone who would shape the case’s most popular theory–one Mendota Investigator John Pakenham.

“Greta told John that a Harry or a Larry are involved,” the transcript says.

Larry Psonak, a radio announcer with WGLC, is named as a witness in the police report. No one named Harry has ever been mentioned.

The transcript claims Pakenham spoke to the psychic during the Sept. 22 call, the day before he questioned Veronica’s boyfriend at the police station. The boyfriend spoke to the psychic, too. The transcript, compiled by Saam, claims the psychic asked him about an argument and a campground, things Greta previously mentioned to the group.

The transcript further claims Greta, in a private phone call to Saam, expressed her belief that Veronica’s boyfriend may be hiding something.

“He says he is cooperating but he’s not,” Alexander reportedly said. “His folks are really bewildered, they don’t know what’s going on. Whoever she went with was waiting for her to get off work.”

Following the boyfriend’s initial interview, police searched the property owned by his family. No signs of Veronica were ever found. A search at and around an area nature preserve where her brother, Todd Blumhorst, was certain she’d been buried, was also fruitless.

As of this report, nothing has ever been recovered that ties her boyfriend to a crime, especially one committed against Veronica on or our around Sept. 20, 1990. What seems to be solved, however, is a query about the origins of the boyfriend theory and the pregnancy postulation. Both seemed to have come from police and the construct of a crystal ball.

Read the Greta Alexander transcript

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.

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