Missing woman’s remains found buried in barn in Missouri


Investigators say they found the remains of missing 21-year-old Jessi Wilfong in a barn near Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office.

The search for a missing 21-year-old woman is over, and an investigation into her killing has begun, according to Missouri authorities.

Jessi Wilfong was reported missing by her mother on May 25 and was last seen on May 19, visiting with relatives at a home in Millersville, about 104 miles south of downtown St. Louis, the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office said in a release.

The sheriff’s office launched an investigation into the young woman’s disappearance, which eventually led them to a barn near a home outside Cape Girardeau, the June 22 release said.

Inside, their eyes were drawn to the ground, to a patch of dirt that seemed recently disturbed, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators excavated the site and their suspicions proved warranted — a hole had been dug and Wilfong’s remains were found.

Two days later, on June 20, an autopsy confirmed that Wilfong was a homicide victim, the sheriff’s office said.

The barn sits by a home in Millersville, outlets reported, a community about 18 miles northwest of Cape Girardeau.

It’s the same home where Wilfong was last seen, and the residence of Teresa Baumgartner and Lawrence Schanda, KFVS reported. Schanda is Wilfong’s uncle, and Baumgartner is his girlfriend, the station said.

Investigators believe Baumgartner and Schanda disposed of Wilfong’s body, according to documents obtained by KFVS.

In an interview with deputies on June 8, Schanda said that he got into an argument with Wilfong the day she disappeared, accusing her of feeding information to law enforcement that implicated him in drug-related crimes, the Southeast Missourian reported.

Police then obtained a warrant to search the Millersville home, the newspaper reported.

Charges of tampering with evidence have been filed against Baumgartner, the sheriff’s office said. As of June 23, no murder charges have been announced, and investigators have not said how Wilfong may have died or who killed her.

“The investigation remains ongoing, and additional charges are anticipated against one or more individuals,” the office said in a release.

Mitchell Willetts is a real-time news reporter covering the central US for McClatchy. He is a University of Oklahoma graduate and outdoors enthusiast living in Texas.

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