Moline police close cold case, body of missing Moline man found 28 years later

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) -28 years later the Moline Police Department has identified the human remains in St. Louis County, Missouri as Steven H. Asplund of Moline.

Asplund was reported missing in 1994, according to Moline Chief of Police Darren Gault. No foul play is suspected and no charges are being sought in this case.

According to Gault, this concludes the missing person investigation of Asplund.

28 years later the Moline Police Department identified human remains in St. Louis County,...
28 years later the Moline Police Department identified human remains in St. Louis County, Missouri as Steven H. Asplund of Moline.(KWQC/ Moline Police Department)

On January 10, 1994, Steven Asplund was reported missing to the Moline Police Department by his fiancée, police said. He had lived in a residence in the 1500 block of 28th Avenue and was renovating it, and was to be married later in the year.

On January 9, 1994, Asplund went to a friend’s residence in the 500 block of 20th Avenue to borrow a caulking gun, according to police. He hung out for a while, then left in his black Ford Mustang and was never seen again.

According to police, Asplund was last seen wearing a t-shirt, Chicago Bears jacket, gray sweatpants and white tennis shoes.

A few days after his disappearance, Asplund’s car was found at Leach Park in Bettendorf, police said. Items found in the car were analyzed in 1994 through fingerprint examination, then again in 2014 by DNA, with all evidence being found to all belong to Asplund or his fiancée.

A few days after his disappearance, Asplund’s car was found at Leach Park in Bettendorf, police...
A few days after his disappearance, Asplund’s car was found at Leach Park in Bettendorf, police said. Items found in the car were analyzed in 1994 through fingerprint examination, then again in 2014 by DNA, with all evidence being found to all belong to Asplund or his fiancée.(Moline Police Department)

A tip in 1994 was furthered in 2014 when a person possibly seen with Asplund at a tavern on 7th Street, Moline was identified, police said. After investigation it was found that had never met Asplund, never drank with him and the lead was found to be not credible.

Police said the case went cold again, with no tips or information coming in on the case for years.

In November 2021, Moline Police Department Detective Mike Griffin researched the National Missing and Unidentified System database for recovered unidentified remains along the Mississippi River from Moline to Memphis, Tennessee. Working backward from Tennessee and within a timeframe of 1994-1996, he found there was an unidentified white man’s body in St. Louis County, Missouri from March 1994.

According to police, the body in St. Louis County was found on March 21, 1994, by barge dock workers at the beginning of their shift. The body was in a debris field next to a barge in the docking area.

The St. Louis County authorities’ attempts to identify the body in 1994 were not successful and fingerprints were not able to be obtained at the time due to degradation of the body.

According to police, the body had grey sweatpants and white shoes. The entry in National Missing and Unidentified System had a discrepancy on the teeth that initially misled investigators.

In 2022, Griffin enlisted the help of Dr. Lindsay Trammell, a Forensic Anthropologist with the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office, Gault said. The investigative team compared the Moline missing person case to the St. Louis County unidentified person case, trying to ensure their National Missing and Unidentified System entry was correct.

After exhausting all efforts, the team determined they had to exhume the body for further examination, Gault said. The team added Forensic Scientist Aaron Small with Illinois State Police Forensic Services Laboratory in Springfield to conduct DNA analysis and comparison.

On June 8, the unidentified remains were exhumed in St. Louis and a bone sample was obtained from the remains, according to Gault. The bone sample along with familial DNA samples from Asplund’s family was submitted to the Illinois State Police Crime Lab and processed by forensic scientist Aaron Small.

On Sept. 6, after completion of processing by ISP, it was determined the unidentified remains located in St. Louis County on March 21, 1994, were Asplund.

According to Moline police, identifying the body concludes the missing person investigation of...
According to Moline police, identifying the body concludes the missing person investigation of Steven Asplund.(Moline Police Department)

The remains are currently buried in Friedens Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri, according to Gault. The Moline Police Department is working with the family to make arrangements on a decision for a final resting place for Asplund.

The Moline Police Department said they wish to extend our deepest condolences to the Asplund family as they work through the emotions of the death of Asplund again after 28 years. Every day is difficult for the family of a missing person. Even with this news many years later, the grief is still painful. Please respect the privacy of the Asplund family while they process the grief and closure of this case.

The Asplund provided this statement:

Thanks to all the media for shining light on Steve’s disappearance today, and over the past 29 years. The news, while bittersweet, will allow us some closure. We’ll still think of Steve every day, and miss him just the same, but these answers will provide comfort to us and his friends.

We would like to thank the hundreds of people who attended the vigils, and helped with searches we did when he first disappeared. The community support and concern has meant a lot to us, and we appreciate it more than we can possibly express.

We‘d also like to thank the Moline Police Department, and all the detectives who have been involved over the years, but we would especially like to thank Detective Mike Griffin, who’s been working with us for many years now. He has stayed in touch and communicated with us even when there wasn’t anything new to report. He’s a good man… and his compassion, and concern for getting us answers has always been obvious. We feel blessed that he became involved in the case.

We would also like to thank the Doctor of Forensic Anthropology for the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office, Dr. Lindsay Trammell and Forensic Scientist Aaron Small from the Illinois State Police. Without their assistance we might never have known what happened. Their work will allow us to bring Steve back home, and we thank you for that.

Thanks to everyone for your concern over the years, and know that it has been appreciated.

Mike Asplund