Most of us will never know what it’s like for a loved one to completely vanish; unfortunately, the families of missing persons have to deal with a dreadfully different reality. The longer that person is missing, the less likely it becomes that they’ll ever be found. What’s worse is all that waiting can make a family—or a community—feel frustrated and powerless. That’s when suspicion and speculation take center stage.

When Lisa Stebic’s children returned from the store and realized their mother had gone missing, they were in complete shock. When the police arrived to investigate, they realized there was something incredibly important her husband, Craig, had suspiciously neglected to do…

In a missing persons case, time is of the essence. Every passing hour can make finding that person more and more difficult. That’s something the family of Lisa Stebic dealt with since the day she disappeared.

In 2007, Lisa and her husband, Craig, were at their home in Plainfield, Illinois, with their two children. Looking for something to do, the kids—who were 10 and 12 years old at the time—rode their bikes to a nearby convenience store to buy snacks.

But by the time the children returned, the only parent at home was their father—and they quickly learned their mother had gone missing. The next day, police showed up at the Stebics’ residence, and there was only one question on their minds…

The question was simple: why had Craig neglected to call them right away? Lisa’s disappearance was reported by a neighbor, not by her own husband, which was why it took them almost 24 hours to begin investigating her disappearance. This, of course, raised all kinds of suspicions…

Lisa was well-liked. She was a dedicated mother who worked in the local school cafeteria. When she wasn’t working at the school, she attempted to spend every possible moment with her two young children. Still, things were far from perfect.

Though she had a fantastic relationship with her two children, the same could not be said of her husband. In fact, authorities learned the couple was in the midst of a bitter divorce. They still lived under the same roof—but only for their kids’ sake.

The story of Lisa’s disappearance soon garnered nationwide media attention, and that was when authorities made another shocking discovery. On the day of her disappearance, Lisa had arranged to have her husband evicted from their home.

When asked about her disappearance, Craig said that he’d been doing yard work in their backyard at around 6 p.m. when someone arrived to bring Lisa to the gym. After leaving with her purse and cell phone, he never saw her again.

Apparently sensing that she was in danger, Lisa had previously alerted a neighbor to call the police if she ever felt there was anything suspicious going on at their home. When the neighbor didn’t see Lisa go out for her nightly jog, she did as she was instructed.

“It was as if she vanished off the face of the earth,” Lisa’s cousin, Melanie Greenberg, explained to reporters. “Her car was left in the garage, her purse and wallet went missing with her, but there was no activity on [her] phone [or] credit cards from the moment she went missing…”

Meanwhile, Craig maintained his innocence, even though he refused to take a polygraph test. Still, he was the prime suspect in the investigation, as is often the case when someone’s wife goes missing. For that reason, he hired attorney Dion Davi, who further proclaimed his client’s innocence.

“I don’t understand why the police have named my client a suspect. He has told police everything he knows about the day his wife disappeared,” Dion explained to reporters. Despite investigators’ suspicions, Craig wasn’t charged for any crimes relating to Lisa’s disappearance…

In addition to Craig’s unwillingness to comply, the investigation was stymied by an utter lack of evidence. “We weren’t able to triangulate [Lisa’s] cell phone to locate her when she went missing,” Plainfield Police Department’s Chief Donald E. Bennet said. The reason? Lisa had a pre-paid phone.

During their search of the family’s home, authorities did their best to comb through a computer and the couple’s two cars for anything suspicious, all to no avail. They did, however, uncover 15 guns—all registered in Craig’s name.

When the police suddenly learned that a large plot of land between Michigan and Wisconsin was owned by Craig’s family, they immediately went there to search. Their efforts proved fruitless, as no evidence was recovered…

It wasn’t long before investigators all but abandoned Lisa’s disappearance when their focus switched to another local, high-profile case involving the Vaughn family (below). Because the Vaughn case carried murder charges, Lisa’s disappearance was no longer their biggest concern.

“[Lisa’s disappearance] wasn’t just sucking the oxygen, it was sucking the money out of the room,” Melanie, Lisa’s cousin, told reporters. “Because I felt like Will County only had so much money to spend on prosecution and literally only so many hours in the day that these prosecutors can devote.”

By 2010, authorities had to call off the investigation into Lisa’s disappearance entirely. While they would pursue any additional leads, they simply didn’t have the money or manpower to keep going. Of course, this was incredibly upsetting to her family, who had no further relationship with Lisa’s children since her disappearance.

Lisa’s family was still struggling more than 10 years after her disappearance. “How can you move on?” Melanie said. “There’s no grave that we can visit. How do I answer Lisa’s grandmother when she’s afraid [Lisa] is not given the proper burial that she should have?”

Still, Lisa’s family continued to hold out hope that her disappearance would be solved—though they had doubts that she’d be found alive. Melanie said, “It’s going to take somebody stumbling upon her body possibly or someone speaking out, someone may know something and finally speak out and get that closure we need.”

It’s heartbreaking to think that after 10 years, Lisa’s family is still struggling. Hopefully, they’ll find answers to this mystery soon—and justice will prevail.

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