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Illinois police locate remains of man missing since 1994: "We never gave up"

CBS News 9/13/2022 Emily Mae Czachor
screen-shot-2022-09-13-at-11-54-27-am.png © Quad-City Times / YouTube screen-shot-2022-09-13-at-11-54-27-am.png

The remains of an Illinois man who was first reported missing almost three decades ago have been identified, police said Monday in an announcement confirming the 28-year-old cold case had officially been closed. 

Using forensic tests, investigators were able to link what were previously anonymous remains to Steven Asplund, who went missing in January of 1994 after visiting a friend's home to borrow a caulking gun, according to the Moline Police Department. Authorities said in a news release this week that their investigation into Asplund's disappearance did not suggest foul play, and they are not seeking charges.

Moline police initially opened a missing persons file on Asplund, whose fiancée reported him missing on Jan. 10, 1994, the department said. The couple was renovating Asplund's residence ahead of their wedding, and he planned to use the caulking tool for construction. After driving to the friend's home nearby, Asplund was last seen leaving in a black Ford Mustang, according to police. 

His car was found several days later in Bettendorf, Iowa, and examinations conducted in 1994 and 2014 showed only Asplund and the fiancée's DNA inside the vehicle. Police say they followed one lead during the latter year, which indicated an unidentified man's potential involvement in Asplund's disappearance, but it did not turn out to be credible.

Asplund's body was eventually identified after Moline police detective Mike Griffin conducted a broad search for unidentified remains last November, using a national database, and found a report filed in St. Louis County in 1994 that matched his description. The body was found that March in a debris field near a dock along the Mississippi River, police said, but St. Louis authorities could not collect fingerprints at the time and a discrepancy in the national database entry had misled investigators.

Earlier this year, the body was exhumed in St. Louis and a DNA cross-examination revealed Asplund's identity. The results were confirmed on Sept. 6. 

Moline police posted a letter to Asplund on the department's Facebook page Monday, noting that, along with his family and friends, they spent "10,467 days looking for you and looking for answers" following his 1994 disappearance.

"We now know what happened, though we may never know 'why' it happened. We will bring you home soon and you'll get to rest where your family wants you to, they will be able to visit you and every night they will now know where you are," the department said. "Even at the darkest times, with seemingly no investigative leads to follow, we never gave up. May your soul finally rest at peace, Steve."

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