Part of Missing Mom Lisa Stebic’s investigation now moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Monday, June 04, 2007

JOLIET, Ill. — A conservation officer’s gun-drawn encounter nearly a dozen years ago with Craig Stebic, the husband of missing Illinois mom Lisa Stebic, has moved part of the investigation into her disappearance to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Michigan Conservation Officer Mike Holmes described the arrest of Joe Stebic and his son Craig, whose wife disappeared nearly a month ago amid a bitter divorce, for poaching deer in northern Michigan, CBS2Chicago.com reports.

“You can see he was trying to figure out what to do, but the look on his face told me it wasn’t good,” Holmes said.

“I think every police officer has individuals that they make contact with in their career that basically makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and whether it’s the look or the cold stare or whatever, that’s what I had for Craig,” Holmes said of the 1995 encounter.

After a few moments, the men submitted and were handcuffed. “They were real defiant,” Holmes said.

Officer Describes 1995 Run-In With Craig Stebic

Missing Woman’s Estranged Husband Has Family, History In Upper Peninsula Of Michigan

Jun 2, 2007 1:25 pm US/Central

(CBS) CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. The disappearance of Lisa Stebic remains a mystery. The west suburban mother of two was last seen at home in Plainfield.

Now CBS 2 has followed the story to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. West Suburban Bureau Chief Mike Puccinelli has exclusive details about a confrontation involving Stebic’s estranged husband, Craig.

In his more than 25-year law enforcement career, Michigan Conservation Officer Mike Holmes says October 8, 1995, stands out.

“I think every police officer has individuals that they make contact with in their career that basically makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and whether it’s the look or the cold stare or whatever that’s what I had for Craig,” Holmes said.

Craig hasn’t talked with Plainfield police in weeks about the disappearance almost one month ago of his wife. Holmes says Craig wasn’t cooperative when he caught up with him either. That was before dawn on a Michigan road nearly 12 years ago.

“They were real defiant,” Holmes said.

That’s because Craig and his father had just been busted trying to poach deer. It’s a crime that would land them in this jail for days. But before they were lodged in the slammer, Holmes first had to arrest them. So with sirens blaring he pulled over the pickup that Craig’s dad was driving.

“Craig was in the back and he had a shotgun,” Holmes said.

When Craig crouched down in the back of the truck with his 12 gauge, Holmes acted.

“He wanted to do something but I drew my gun before he got out of the back of the pickup,” he said.

It was one of the few times in his career when Holmes pulled his weapon.

“You can see he was trying to figure out what to do but the look on his face told me it wasn’t good,” Holmes said.

After some tense moments Joe and Craig Stebic lay down and were handcuffed on Rysberg Drive. According to the police report, fresh blood was found in the truck that night but no animals were spotted.

Holmes says they never found any of the animals the Stebics are believed to have poached. He believes they likely stashed them in the hundreds of mining pits that dot the 1,100 miles of Iron County.

He also says when he read reports about possible evidence pointing to Craig, he wasn’t shocked.

“It didn’t surprise me,” Holmes said. “Let’s say that. I wasn’t surprised.”

It’s a reaction formed in part years ago by a frightening encounter with Craig Stebic on a picturesque rural road.

Holmes says their investigation into alleged poaching by the Stebics lasted more than a year. He says the information came from confidential informants who said the Stebics were poaching the animals and taking the meat back to Illinois to sell. Holmes says in the course of the 1995 investigation they developed information that the Stebics were allegedly poaching in Illinois as well.

Records indicate Craig Stebic was busted two other times in Iron County, Mich. In November 2004 he pleaded guilty and paid a $189 fine for using another person’s kill to tag a big game animal. And in 1996 he paid an $80 fine for being caught with two undersized bass.

Craig Stebic’s Cousin: ‘I don’t believe he would… actually kill her.”
A short distance away in Crystal Falls, Mich., Craig Stebic’s cousin Michelle Stebic says she remains hopeful Lisa will be found and that she cannot imagine Craig would harm her.

Michelle Stebic’s kids know about their missing aunt and have become increasingly worried that their mom will also disappear.

“They want to know exactly where I am at all times,” Michelle Stebic said.

Michelle understands their concerns and often finds herself looking for Lisa.

“I see Lisa everywhere,” she said. “When I go into a grocery store, I have to go look just to make sure.”

And she’s not alone. Just weeks ago, law enforcement investigators were in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, searching. They looked around the more than 150 acres of Iron County land that have been in the Stebic family for generations.

They searched Michelle’s farm where Craig Stebic, Lisa’s husband, carved his name into a cabin nearly 30 years ago. They also searched Craig’s father’s cottage in nearby Alpha, and turned up nothing.

“Even up here we can’t imagine that somebody could disappear without a trace,” Michelle said. “That just seems like it would be a sci-fi show.”

But it’s all too real. As was the love Michelle says Craig felt for his wife. And there are some people who think he might have loved her so much that he might have killed her.

“Human nature says yeah,” Michelle said. “You love somebody that much.”

And she says in the heat of the moment, anything can happen.

“If it did come down to something, I don’t believe that he would actually go after her to kill her,” she added.

Michelle hopes that Lisa made a mistake and is just hiding out.

“I’m a hopeful person, so I know I’ll see her again,” she said.

But the passage of time has her fearing the worst.

Michelle says she’s thinking about paying to put Lisa’s missing persons poster in the local paper in the hopes of developing leads.

The father-in-law of Lisa Stebic denounced the report. Joe Stebic says the version of the 1995 arrest of Joe and his son Craig was a lie.

During that arrest, both Stebics were convicted and jailed.

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