Cold-case team focusing on Ingersoll disappearance in Wabasha
Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 7:30 am | Updated: 7:35 am, Wed Jul 2, 2014.
WABASHA — For many years, former Wabasha Police Chief Dave Kruger tried to find answers to the Dec. 16, 1990, disappearance of Donna Ingersoll, who was last seen leaving her Wabasha apartment.
She was never found, and Kruger has retired.
Now, current Police Chief Jim Warren has taken up that quest and is adding a cold-case unit, calling on several others in the police and sheriff's departments, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and a national missing persons group to try to solve the vexing case.
Warren, who has been chief for about two years, said he decided to begin the cold-case project four months ago. He sent out emails seeking local help and the local team began meeting this spring. The BCA came down last week.
"It's to shed some light on the case that needs it," Warren said. Having nine people from the city and county looking at it will give nine different perspectives, he said. And having the BCA adds more insight. "This is not about any single person," he said. "This is strictly everybody coming together and acting as one."
On the day of her disappearance, Ingersoll, 25, had argued with her boyfriend, Gary Murphy, of Plainview. According to police reports at the time, she had no money or a coat when she was reported missing that winter night 24 years ago.
Her sister, Sharon Ziemer of Hammond, said Warren's re-opening of the case "is a good deal, and I know my family agreed to it, too." The family needs "to know if she's dead or alive, or what," she added.
She said her sister was "real friendly; she got along with everybody."
Their mother, Phyllis, died four years ago and will never know what happened to Donna. But if Donna is dead and her body is found, she will be buried in the St. Clement's Catholic Cemetery in Hammond near her parents, Ziemer said.
Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh said he's glad Warren "has taken the bull by the horns.
"It would have been easy for him to sit back and let it sit on his desk," Bartsh said. "The family deserves closure, the community deserves closure and law enforcement deserves closure."
The sheriff said that when officers work on a big case, it becomes part of them. It affects them and they want to know what happened.
"I don't view myself as a cold-case detective," Warren said, adding that he wants to get people scratching away, looking, double-checking, thinking about different leads.
Kruger, Warren and Bartsh believe there are people out there who know something. "We do want to rattle some cages," Warren said.
Also, technology has advanced since 1990 so it's possible that something new could come into play, he said.
Another new twist will be that the case is going to get even more national exposure on social media. Warren has asked for help from the Community United Effort of the Center for Missing Persons to get out that information in hopes it will trigger a key clue.
The case is on several national websites already but some details are confusing or contradictory, Warren said. He wants the new site to be the main site people go to with correct information.
Yet, Warren said he knows chances of finding the truth are slim at best. "It's the needle in the haystack. But to me, not trying is worse than trying," he said.
"It won't get solved if we don't do something with it," Kruger added