Shut out by the detectives who are supposed to be trying to solve the mystery of her brother's disappearance, the sister of missing St. Charles man John Spira has petitioned a higher authority in hopes of finding out what's going on.
Stephanie McNeil appealed to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to force the DuPage County Sheriff to open her missing brother's case file.
Natalie Bauer, a spokeswoman for Madigan, confirmed her office received McNeil's appeal and is in the process of reviewing it.
McNeil, who grew up in Winnetka but now lives in Phoenix, first asked the DuPage County Sheriff's Department to share information about her brother's four-year-old case on April 4. The department refused her request on the grounds that the records are still "part of an on-going investigative file."
The rejection letter did not elaborate on the status of the supposedly ongoing investigation. Weeks of inquiry by Patch to the DuPage County Sheriff's Department have yielded no information.
McNeil was unconvinced that her brother's case is actually being worked by DuPage County detectives.
"Do I believe it's an ongoing investigation? No," she said. "I believe (the file) may be sitting on somebody's desk, but I don't believe there's any substantive activity."
And that, McNeil suspects, may be part of the reason DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba will not comply with her request.
"I think it will show that they dropped the ball," McNeil said. "It would also show how inept they are."
Spira was 45 when he vanished in February 2007. He was last seen at the office of his cable construction company, where his parked car was later found.
McNeil said her family received a call in 2008 from a bill collector seeking payment for two purchases made with Spira's card months after he disappeared. She forwarded the information to the DuPage County police but doubts they probed the lead.
"About a year later they said they looked into it and it was nothing," she said. "How could it be nothing?
"I still don't feel confident that they checked it out," McNeil said. "They've literally been running away from" the case.
McNeil said it has been years since anyone from the DuPage County Sheriff's Department has spoken to her about her brother's case. She said she wrote two letters to Sheriff Zaruba about the matter but has yet to hear back from him.
Zaruba failed to return calls for comment about this story.
McNeil said she is certain that her brother was slain, a theory that DuPage County investigators apparently do not share. DuPage County has classified the Spira matter as a missing person case, which infuriates McNeil.
"When they call it a missing person's case they're blaming John" for disappearing, she said. "I know that they know it's foul play."
At the time of his disappearance, Spira was in the midst of a tumultuous divorce, McNeil said. He and his wife, Suzanne Spira, were living in the same home throughout their divorce proceedings and the domestic arrangement was hellish, McNeil said.
Suzanne Spira, who has since moved to Orchard Park, NY, has denied that her relationship with Spira was acrimonious.
In her April 4 letter requesting the reports from the DuPage County police, McNeil also said Spira owed a "substantial sum of money" to his cable construction company and that his business partner, David Stubben, was "upset" and "angry" about it.
Stubben failed to return calls for comment.
The business that Spira and Stubben owned together burned down five months after Spira vanished. The DuPage County police have also refused to share details of the fire investigation with McNeil.
McNeil believes the DuPage County police harbor a grudge against her and are keeping her in the dark about the case in retaliation.
"I've been outspoken and I've criticized them," she said.
"I'm not doing this to attack their investigation," McNeil said. "I just want to see if there's any other avenues they can go down.
"If they're doing something, fine," she said. "But if they're not doing anything, let me see the file."