LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Sunday marks four years since a Little Rock teenager was found dead inside of a drainage pipe at Chalamont Park in West Little Rock.
The disappearance of Ebby Steppach gained attention from all over the world and continues to draw questions about what happened to her.
Ebby’s grandmother Debi Steppach has never spoken publicly about the case, but in an exclusive interview with KARK 4 News, she is finally opening up about her granddaughter’s death, what she believes happened and the message she has for the person responsible.
Nearly seven years have passed since Debi last hugged her granddaughter, though she still remembers how Ebby could bring a smile to anyone.
“She just had this laughter,” Debi said. “Strangers would come up and giggle with her.”
Ebby was 18 years old when she was last seen on October 24, 2015. She was reported missing the next day, and her car was found abandoned at Chalamont Park in West Little Rock just days later with her belongings inside.
It wasn’t until May 22, 2018, though, that human remains, later identified as Ebby, were discovered inside a drainage pipe just feet from where her car was found.
“There are pictures and images of inside the drainpipe,” Debi said. “Some of those things are almost unbearable.”
Ebby’s death is still being investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise, but no one has ever been arrested. In the years that followed the gruesome discovery, her grandmother stayed mostly in the background as Ebby’s mom Laurie went on a public crusade to find out what happened to her daughter.
“It was so painful that I did not feel like I could be in public at that time,” Debi explained. “But now, after all these years and a new investigator looking into the case and finding new details, now is my time to speak for Ebby. I’ve wanted to all this time.”
While she may have been out of the spotlight, Debi was still hard at work. The keeper of memories in the family, she started recording every detail she could about Ebby’s disappearance, including all the twists and turns that followed.
“I had heard rumors; I had heard facts. I knew some things and I didn’t know some things,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to put down what I know for certain because the police may want that.’”
Debi shared what she uncovered with then lead Homicide Detective Tommy Hudson, who made the call to go into the drainage pipe, eventually finding Ebby. Hudson has since retired but still works with the Little Rock Police Department to answer questions about the case.
“He appreciated it. He took some notes,” Debi said. “He would say ‘I didn’t know this, but I knew where she was here,’ so just filling in like that.”
While the timeline has helped her paint a clearer picture, it still doesn’t answer the burning question, What happened to Ebby?
“I can’t say that I am positive on what happened, but I’m positive on what didn’t happen. Ebby did not take her life,” Debi said. “I believe she was involved with a bad situation. No ideas on that, but I am positive on the other.”
As for the theory Ebby crawled into the pipe herself, her grandmother was quick to shut it down.
“No,” she said. “That theory is just, no.”
Debi believes someone is responsible for her granddaughter’s death, saying, “there is somebody or somebodies that know exactly what happened to her.”
Her prayer is that whoever is responsible will come forward and confess, leaving no more questions, only good memories, behind.
“If they realize we are not giving up, perhaps the day will come where they will just get weary or something and will tell something that will help us find out what happened to her,” Debi said.
KARK 4 News reached out to the Little Rock Police Department for an update on the case. In an email, department officials stated that “this is an ongoing investigation. This case remains open, and all new leads will continue to be investigated.”
If you know anything about what happened to Ebby Jane Steppach, contact the Little Rock Police Department.