MORRISON – It was a little past suppertime, around 6 p.m. that Friday evening, April 14, 1995. Spring was nearly over, summer was on its way.
With the weekend stretching before them, the three 17-year-old boys were walking the banks of Little Spring Creek, in a hilly, wooded area about 3 miles west of Coleta when they spied it: the dismembered leg of a woman, caught in a log jam in the shallows under the bridge at Yorktown Road.
Saturday, searchers would find her other leg about 75 yards downstream. They were sliced off at the pelvis, with a knife or a saw.
An arm was found a little farther downstream; her nude torso, the other arm attached, was stuffed into a black garbage bag a half-mile farther still.
They didn’t find her head, bagged and weighed down with a rock in about 4 feet of water, until Monday. It was upstream from the bridge.
All were badly decomposed. She had been dead at least a month, maybe 6 months, authorities said.
She was petite, maybe 5-foot-3 and a little more than 100 pounds. Over her left breast was a homemade tattoo of a heart. She was blonde, right-handed, and had broken her nose at some point.
She had extensive dental work, including a ceramic tooth, which is how she would be identified nearly a week later.
Kimberly Renea Mabry, 26, of Rockford. A mom. A daughter. A stripper, maybe a prostitute.
Still, 22 years later, an unsolved homicide, with no motive, no cause of death ever pinned down.
Whiteside County Sheriff’s Lt. John Booker badly wants to rectify that.
Wednesday was the 22nd anniversary of the last day Mabry was seen alive, in Rockford. If he could find out how she wound up in such a remote part of his county – an area nonetheless popular with hunters from all over the region – he’d be a long ways toward solving the mystery, Booker said Wednesday.
He’s not thinking serial killer. “I think it’s somebody local.”
He’s appealing to the community one more time, in the hopes that new information will come to light.
He’s inspired by the anniversary, and by a federal agent who came to the area recently to talk with Booker about his own cold case. The agent thought the two cases just might be related, but no. They found no connection between the two homicides.
He did, however, give Booker some tips on new alleys to pursue in the Mabry case, and the tenacious lieutenant is reaching out again to local agencies, and trying to find Mabry family members.
“The Whiteside County Sheriff’s office has never given up investigating this heinous crime,” Booker said Wednesday.
And it never will.
HOW TO HELP
Anyone with any information on the Kimberly Renea Mabry case is asked to contact Whiteside County Sheriff's Lt. John Booker at 815-772-4044, 815-631-1470, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A PLEA FROM A FAMILY
A letter to the editor from Robin Childers, Kimberly Mabry's sister, was published Feb. 9, 2011, in Sauk Valley Media editions. Attempts to locate Childers on Wednesday for comment were unsuccessful. This is an excerpted version:
My family was devastated after the dismembered body of my sister, Kimberly Renea Mabry, was found in Little Spring Creek in Coleta on April 14, 1995.
My mom was so depressed, that was all she thought about to the point she eventually smoked herself to death. All she wanted to do was be with my sister.
After my sister was killed, her son, Jeremy, went from foster home to foster home, and has had a very hard life since. This happened when he was just 6 years old. He stated that his mind is now an “emotionless calculating computer.”
“When my mother died, a large part of me was buried with her,” he said. “The person who took her from me deserves to pay.”
I’m her little sister, and I think about her every day. I remember the day the priest and my mom walked in, and I fell to the floor in despair. Since then, it has left an overwhelming emptiness in my heart.
I promised my mom, and will make it a priority in my life, to find out who did this horrible crime to such a sweet girl.
My sister was an artist; she had lots of friends and attended Rock Valley College. She had a bright future ahead of her and a son who needed her.
The articles you may have read about her talked only about how she had frequented crack houses and was prostituting, but that wasn’t who she really was.
She was a human being with emotions and feelings. She was helpful, thoughtful and caring. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, and had extended family, too, not to mention hundreds of friends.
We all miss her dearly.
Our family hopes community members will find it in their hearts to help with this case in any way they can. Please keep in mind, this monster lives among you, and I am sure most of you have sisters, daughters, granddaughters, or a mom yourself.
To the dads out there, think about your girls when they go to school or go out with friends. We really need any help we can get. Any information will be kept anonymous and will be greatly appreciated.