WI - Jeanette 'Jean' Zapata, 36, Madison, 11 Oct 1976

Discussion in '1970's Missing' started by PonderingThings, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. PonderingThings

    PonderingThings Former member

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    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/z/zapata_jeanette.html

    Jeanette Zapata
    Missing since October 11, 1976
    from Madison, Wisconsin
    Classification: Endangered Missing

    Vital Statistics

    * Age at Time of Disappearance: 36 years old
    * Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance:
    * Distinguishing Characteristics: White female.
    * Clothing: Blue corduroys and a striped top
    * AKA: Jean

    Circumstances of Disappearance
    Jean Zapata sent her two teenage daughters and 6-year-old son to school shortly after 8 a.m. October 11, 1976. They last saw her as she sat at the kitchen table in their East Side home near La Follette High School.
    Two days after Zapata's children saw her for the last time an accountant at Frickleton School of Aeronautics, reported her missing because she hadn't come to work.
    Immediately after she disappeared, her purse and other belongings, including her new car, were found at the home, but a .30-06 rifle was missing.
    Police said that they believe Jean Zapata is dead, but don't say the mother and flight instructor was murdered. Jean Zapata was in the middle of a divorce and had a temporary restraining order against her husband when she disappeared.
     
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  3. PonderingThings

    PonderingThings Former member

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    http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/news/local/13417277.htm
    December 16, 2005

    1976 disappearance of woman investigated
    Jean Zapata, 38, was a flight instructor and mother of three
    BY RYAN J. FOLEY
    Associated Press

    Police said Thursday they have new leads in the 29-year-old case of a woman who disappeared after seeing her children off to school.

    Investigators suspect foul play, although Jean Zapata's body has not been found and no one has been charged, Police Capt. Tom Snyder said. But investigators who used corpse-sniffing dogs believe they found human remains in the Madison home where she was living when she vanished, he said.

    Zapata, a Madison flight instructor, was 38 when she disappeared on Oct. 11, 1976, after sending her three children to school. Police said no one has seen her since. Investigators started looking into the case again last year after a childhood friend inquired about its status.

    Snyder said police are focusing on one suspect in the case, a man who now lives in Nevada. Authorities have questioned him but have not arrested or charged him.

    One year ago, cadaver dogs identified human remains in a crawl space in the basement of Zapata's home, according to a search warrant unsealed Thursday. Police obtained human hairs, but Snyder would not say whether those hairs were from Zapata.

    The dogs also indicated the presence of human remains in a storage locker at U-Store Mini Storage in Sun Prairie, where the Nevada man leased a locker until earlier this year, the warrant said. But a search in August of four acres of wooded land in Juneau County in central Wisconsin owned by the man failed to turn up the woman's body.

    Snyder said investigators in the 1970s also suspected foul play, but the case "truly ended up going nowhere."

    Police Chief Noble Wray said he believed his gamble of investing resources in the 29-year-old case would soon pay off. He said he expected to bring closure to the case for Zapata's friends and family.

    At age 16 in 1954, Jean Zapata was the youngest pilot with a license in Wisconsin. She was reported missing after she failed to show up for work two days after she vanished.
     
  4. H0NEYWEST

    H0NEYWEST I have a .38 and an ocelot ~ they're both loaded

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    I wonder where the kids thought she was for two days.
     
  5. PonderingThings

    PonderingThings Former member

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    Don't know... but it sounds like nothing was done until an adult stepped in. When she didn't show up for work he knew what to do.

    The kids weren't necessairly at home alone... they could have went to a family member, or friend's house. The info doesn't say what they were doing.

    She was going through a divorce, so maybe they had a plan... or maybe she kept too much information from the kids...

    Dunno :confused: but it would be interesting to hear their story after all these years....
     
  6. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    What became of her children? Did the father get custody after Jean went missing? Was he granted a divorce? Where did he go, and what did he do in the days following her disappearance? Could he be the un-named man in Nevada?

    With the scent of human remains in a storage locker in Nevada, it would seem more likely that a body was transported there and disposed of, rather than being shipped back to Wisconsin for disposal. What became of the contents of that storage locker/space? Perhaps moved to another storage place? The scent would be found on anything that had been stored there, if it was apparent to the dogs a month after being emptied.
     
  7. PonderingThings

    PonderingThings Former member

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    http://www.madison.com/tct/news/stories/index.php?ntid=65383&ntpid=0

    Jeanette Zapata case reopened
    Husband is main suspect in 1976 disappearance

    By Steven Elbow
    December 16, 2005

    Madison police have reopened a nearly 30-year-old case of a missing woman with her former husband as the primary suspect.

    Jeanette L. Zapata was 36 when she vanished from her east side home on Oct. 11, 1976, after seeing her three children off to school.

    Zapata, a flight instructor at the Frickelton School of Aeronautics at Truax Field, was in the midst of a messy divorce with her husband, Eugene, who is now 68 and living with his second wife in Henderson, Nev.

    In recent months, police have taken cadaver dogs to two locations connected with Eugene Zapata, where the dogs alerted officers to the scent of decomposing human remains. A search warrant unsealed in Dane County Court today states that the dogs can detect the scent of a decomposing body decades or even centuries after a death.

    In December 2004, two cadaver dogs had separate hits in the basement of the Zapatas' former home at 5705 Indian Trace, where a forensic anthropologist excavated human hair.

    And on Aug. 10 and 11 of this year, two cadaver dogs separately alerted officers to decomposing human remains at a Sun Prairie storage locker that Eugene Zapata maintained until April 14 of this year.

    The search warrant unsealed today was the result of an Aug. 15 search, also using cadaver dogs, of a 4-acre wooded lot owned by Eugene Zapata in the town of Fountain in Juneau County. The dogs found nothing there, the warrant states.

    Zapata has not been charged or arrested and police today would not say if their investigation will extend to Nevada.

    Police spokesman Mike Hanson said that the case was reopened when a good friend of Jeanette Zapata called detectives to inquire about the case.

    "Detective staff reviewed it and said they need to go further," he said.

    After Jeanette Zapata's disappearance, her husband emerged almost instantly as a suspect but investigators could not turn up enough evidence to charge him.

    "There were other people we talked to, but they were all cleared with thorough alibis," Hanson said.

    According to information in the search warrant, Eugene Zapata, a former state Department of Transportation employee, offered several conflicting accounts of his activities the day his wife went missing.

    He admitted to detectives that he had argued with his wife three days before the disappearance over visitation rights. Barred by court order from the Indian Trace residence, Eugene Zapata was allowed there only between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

    But the couple's disputes went beyond visitation, the warrant states. About a month before Jeanette Zapata vanished, her husband hired a private detective to follow her for five days "because her husband thought she was screwing around," the detective, Joseph Cerniglia, told police.

    A friend of Eugene Zapata, Robert Coleman, told police that he often saw him sitting in the parking lot of the Left Guard, a bar frequented by Jeanette Zapata.


    After her disappearance, a search of the Indian Trace home turned up a 20-gauge shotgun, but failed to locate a 30-06 rifle that was also supposed to be at the home, the warrant states.

    Jeanette Zapata was believed to have been the only practicing female flight instructor in the Madison area, according to news accounts published at the time, and had taught her husband to fly.

    After her disappearance, Eugene Zapata said that his wife likely left because he had filed for custody of the children. He suggested that she may have hired a business in Champaign, Ill., that specialized in creating new identities for people who wanted to vanish and start a new life.

    E-mail: selbow@madison.com

    Published: 9:47 AM 12/16/05

    *************************
    Exerpt from http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local/index.php?ntid=65363&ntpid=5

    Zapata told police he argued with his wife over visitation rights to their children a few days before she disappeared. The day she vanished, they met with the La Follette High School principal to discuss their oldest daughter. One time he told police he called the morning of Oct. 11 to cancel the meeting. On another occasion, he said he went to the house at 9 a.m. to pick her up.

    Jean Zapata had obtained a court order that restricted his time with the children in the home to two hours on Saturday mornings.

    His employment records at the state Department of Transportation indicate he worked from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. the day she disappeared, was off work the following day, Oct. 12, and then came in to work at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13.

    He told police he took Oct. 12 off to care for his children at home, but investigators verified the children were at school.

    **********************************
    I couldn't locate a reference as to what happened to the kids after their mother died. Since the ex had already filed for custody, its very possible that he got it.... but I couldn't find any confirmation on that.
     
  8. lostfaith

    lostfaith Lost my mind too!

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    Madison police searched the Juneau County Landfill located near Mauston on Monday in pursuit of a break in a 30-year-old missing person case.


    Police described the search as part of a homicide investigation of Jean Zapata, a 36-year-old Madison woman and mother of three who mysteriously disappeared from her home in 1976, WISC-TV reported.

    Up to two dozen law enforcement personnel conducted the search and could continue their search throughout the week. An unnamed source close to the case told WISC-TV that detectives are searching the area for human remains.

    Police said that they are acting on a tip that led them to the landfill located off Ceylon Road.


    more at link

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/wisc/20060307/lo_wisc/3312384

    Would be great if this was finally resolved!
     
  9. hoppyfrog

    hoppyfrog Retired WS Staff

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    http://www.madison.com/wsj/mad/top/index.php?ntid=96629&ntpid=1


    After 30 years, husband is charged with murder
    As Ruth Kuehn lay dying in 1984, she lamented not knowing what had happened to her daughter, Jeanette Zapata, who disappeared on Oct. 11, 1976.



    She told her sister, Margaret Clark, that she hoped "Jean" was all right.

    But holding Kuehn's hand, Clark thought otherwise. She knew Jean was dead, Clark told Madison police two years ago, because she had never again contacted her mother.

    The mystery lingered for 28 years, until a phone call to police from a high school friend of Jean Zapata prompted police to re-open the case.

    On Monday, after nearly 30 years under a cloud of suspicion, Eugene Zapata, 67, was charged with first-degree murder for his wife's presumed death. Police in Henderson, Nev., where he lives, arrested him at his home about noon Monday and took him to the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas, where Zapata will await extradition back to Madison.

    more at link
     
  10. Jeana (DP)

    Jeana (DP) Former Member

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    That's some pretty darn good circumstantial evidence they've got there!! I hope they get their man.
     
  11. Pharlap

    Pharlap Former Member

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    Interesting case.
    However nothing in the landfill relates to the case.
    Wonder why he went there and what were those items that totaled 60pd s..
     
  12. hoppyfrog

    hoppyfrog Retired WS Staff

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    No kidding. I also wonder why the dogs hit on cadaver smells in his car trunk, in his storage unit, and in three houses where he lived. Gee, I wonder...
     
  13. Bobbisangel

    Bobbisangel New Member

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    When he was buying all of those cleaning supplies I wonder why LE didn't put a tail on him to see exactly what he was up to? After that many years wouldn't there have just been bones left?
     
  14. meggilyweggily

    meggilyweggily New Member

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    The problem is that I believe in most if not all states, dog-sniffing evidence is not admissible in court. I hope they have more than just the dog indications.
     
  15. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    It has been a year now, since investigators re-opened this 30 year old case. Does anyone have any updates on it?
     
  16. joellegirl

    joellegirl New Member

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  17. Teresa Larson

    Teresa Larson New Member

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    I have worked on a lot of divorce cases (I have a good friend that is a P. I.) and I have seen notes like the ones Eugene Zapata had many many times and most of them are inaccurate They will do anything to make the ex husband - wife look bad What about trying to contact the children? Could they possibly know something that would help solve the case?? I wonder if Eugene allowed the police to speak with them after their mother disappeared.
     
  18. STEADFAST

    STEADFAST New Member

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    This case is on 48 Hours Mystery right now.
     
  19. ababeinnj

    ababeinnj New Member

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    Thanks! I just put it on and will watch.
     
  20. Teresa Larson

    Teresa Larson New Member

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    Mr Zapata killed her how sad. Three children grew up without their mother. I especially feel terrible for the youngest daughter who helped set her father up. None of her family will speak to her now. I think she was a marvelous person for helping bring out the real truth of what happened to her mother. Her brother and sister are living in denial. I would have stood up for my mother too. Jeanette wasn't able to come forward herself. She needed somebody to do it for her Thank God her youngest daughter did.
     
  21. TallCoolOne

    TallCoolOne Registered Lurker

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    Is there a link for this update or is this what came out from 48 hours mystery? The suspense is killing me here!
     

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