Elizabeth Syperda

Elizabeth Syperda (Courtesy Iowa Department of Public Safety)

Elizabeth Nicole Forshee-Syperda

Missing Person — Homicide

Age at Report: 22
May 13, 1978
150 lbs.
5′ 04″
Incident Type:
Endangered / physical / homicide
Missing From: Mount Pleasant, IA
Henry County
Investigating Agency: Mt. Pleasant Police Department
Case #:
NamUs MP #
Last Seen Alive:
July 16, 2000
Arrest Made:
Michael Syperda arrested and charged with first degree murder on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017
Murder Trial Began: May 1, 2018
Closing Arguments: May 7, 2018
Ruling Scheduled: June 25, 2018



On Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, Michael Lee Syperda, 52, was arrested and charged with first degree murder in the death of his estranged wife, Elizabeth. “Liz” was 22 years old when she went missing from her Mount Pleasant, Iowa, apartment on July 16, 2000.

He waived a jury trial and his bench trial began in Henry County on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, with closing arguments held Monday, May 7, 2018. A June 25, 2018, hearing is scheduled for a judge to rule on the first-degree murder charge.

Courtesy photo Garfield County Sheriff’s Office via AP / Quad-City Times
This photo released by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office shows Michael Lee Syperda. The Colorado man has been charged in the cold-case killing of his estranged wife in Iowa, where they used to live and where she was last seen 17 years ago.

According to an Iowa Department of Public Safety Press Release dated Friday, Dec. 1, and a Des Moines Register article also dated Dec. 1, 2017, the Mount Pleasant Police Department and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) reopened the case in March 2017.

Through the case review and interviews, the case was classified as a homicide investigation. The findings of the investigation were briefed to the Henry County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, the DPS stated in the press release.

Upon review of the report, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and the Henry County Attorney’s Office convened a Grand Jury to review the evidence and the testimony. On November 29, 2017 the Grand Jury returned a True Bill Indictment on Michael Lee Syperda, 52, for the crime of Murder in the First Degree in violation of Section 707.2(1) of the Code of Iowa, a Class A Felony.

On November 30, 2017, Michael Lee Syperda was taken into custody in the area of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on the arrest warrant which was issued out of the Indictment. Syperda will be extradited back to the State of Iowa.

According to the Register, Elizabeth Syperda’s mother, Donna Forshee of Roseville, Calif., told northeastern Missouri television station KTVO that her daughter had moved from California to Iowa with Michael Syperda and she thinks he was upset that her daughter planned to move back to California.

“This is the best news we’ve had in 17 years. … It’s been a long time waiting for it and we’re very happy that he’s in custody,” Donna Forshee told the station, which also serves southeastern Iowa, where the couple lived.

Ryan Kedley, acting special agent in charge with the DCI, credits collaboration with various departments for the breakthrough in the case but wouldn’t say what prompted the recent movement on the case; Kedley said the details of what was presented to the Grand Jury are sealed.

“We’re very, very happy that some sort of resolution has come in this case,” he said, adding that the search for Elizabeth Syperda continues.

If found guilty of first degree murder, Syperda faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Media Contact: Iowa DCI Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan Kedley at (563) 357-5348.

Courtesy KTVOtv, published Dec. 1, 2017

Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Elizabeth Syperda was last seen by her roommate at their East Madison Street apartment in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, about 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, 2000, when the roommate left to go to work. When the roommate returned at 4:00 a.m. the following morning, Elizabeth was gone, though she did not have access to a car and all her personal belongings were left behind.

Henry County in Iowa
Henry County in Iowa
Mount Pleasant in Henry CountyMount Pleasant in Henry County

The door was locked from the outside, leaving investigators to initially believe she left the apartment voluntarily.

She’d been living apart from her husband of two years at the time she went missing.

Syperda never claimed her paycheck from her employer, and there has been no activity on her bank account since the night she disappeared.

One month before Syperda vanished, her estranged husband, Michael Syperda, had been arrested for assaulting both his wife and her roommate. The court immediately put a protection order in place.

In November 2000 — four months after Liz went missing — Michael Syperda pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery and domestic abuse assault stemming from the June assault. He received a suspended prison sentence and was placed on probation for five years.

Though authorities could not find any evidence of foul play in her disappearance, Elizabeth’s family is convinced her husband — whom they describe as dangerous and violent — murdered her.

Elizabeth Syperda

Elizabeth Syperda

Michael Syperda stopped talking to police soon after the investigation began and also refused to take a polygraph (lie detector) test. He eventually moved to Colorado.

Liz was just 14 when she first met Michael and his wife in Truckee, Calif., and began babysitting their daughter. Two years later, she’d moved with the couple to Winfield to serve as a live-in-babysitter. After the couple divorced, Michael and Liz eventually married, but she left after he allegedly became physically abusive.

Elizabeth has been described as a 5-foot-4 white female with naturally curly brown hair, hazel eyes, and weighing about 150 pounds.

Her ears are pierced multiple times, and her tongue and left nipple are also pierced. A heart tattoo encircles her navel. She was last seen wearing a t-shirt, black jeans, a diamond and emerald ring, a wedding ring and a diamond “Year 2000” necklace.

Mother holds out hope of solving disappearance

Elizabeth’s mother, Donna Forshee, spoke with the Hawk Eye from her Sacramento, Calif., home in 2010 and said she remains determined to keep a light on for her daughter’s return.

In the Hawk Eye article published Friday, July 15, 2010, Forshee said that every year she makes a trek to Mount Pleasant to raise awareness that “Liz” is still missing. She stays in close contact with local law enforcement in efforts to get the latest information about her daughter’s case.

2010-7-15-hawk-eye-elizabeth-syperda-billboard-john-lovrettaCourtesy photo John Lovretta / The Hawk Eye
This billboard near New London announced a $20,000 reward for information about Elizabeth Nicole Forshee-Syperda’s whereabouts.

In 2010, Forshee paid for a billboard on U.S. 34 between Danville and New London, announcing a $20,000 reward for information about Liz and seeking information that might lead to her daughter’s whereabouts or fate. She also planned an informal gathering at the Mount Pleasant square for Saturday, July 16, 2010, stating that its purpose was “to raise awareness that Liz is still missing and that we still need help from people to help locate her and possibly bring people to justice.”

Her son, Michael Forshee, accompanied her on the trip.

Forshee said she suspects her daughter may have met a tragic death, but is optimistic they’ll eventually find her.

“Someone back there knows what happened to her, and I hope that our presence would spark a recollection,” she said during a phone conversation with the Hawk Eye from her California home Wednesday, July 13, 2010. “My hope is to find Liz, that’s my whole focus. The reason for doing this is to find her.”

Lt. Ron Archer of the Mount Pleasant Police Department told the Hawk Eye the case remains open, although he has not received any new leads. He said Michael Syperda has not been ruled out as a suspect.

Donna Forshee has her theories about what might have happened.

“My assumption is that he called her and enticed her somehow to come out of the apartment and meet him,” Forshee told the Hawk Eye for the July 2010 story. “Then, they got into a fight and something happened during that night.”

Elizabeth Forshee-Syperda remains listed as missing and endangered, which the Iowa Department of Public Safety classifies as a person of any age who is missing under circumstances indicating that his/her physical safety is in danger.

Estranged husband charged with first degree murder

More than 17 years after Liz Syperda went missing, her family has hope for resolution and justice.

Liz’s estranged husband, Michael Lee Syperda, now 52, was arrested Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in Rifle, Colorado, near Glenwood Springs, and charged with first-degree murder in his wife’s death.

Donna Forshee, who now resides in Roseville, Calif., received word around 9:30 Thursday night of her former son-in-law’s arrest, and in an interview with KTVO News praised officers with the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa DCI for bringing Michael Syperda to trial.

“When (Mount Pleasant Police) Lt. Lyle Murray took over the case, I think he’s worked diligently for the last five years to get us to where we are,” Forshee told KTVO. “He and I have been in communication all the time during this whole entire period.”

According to the Post Independent | Citizen Telegraph serving Glenwood Spring and Rifle, Colorado, local and federal officers found Michael Syperda staying in a Rifle apartment Thursday.

The Garfield County Threat Assessment Group worked with federal agents from Homeland Security and a U.S. Marshals Service Violent Fugitive Task Force to track the 52-year-old to an apartment complex on the 3000 block of Coal Mine Avenue. He had an active Iowa warrant for first-degree murder, the Colorado paper said. Reporter Ryan Summerlin also said in the Dec. 5 story:

Investigators first found his vehicle in Rifle, then confirmed through neighbors that a man matching Syperda’s description had been living in an apartment complex there.

Authorities established a perimeter around the apartment. They eventually got Syperda to come to the door, and he was arrested without incident.

He is being held at the Garfield County jail on a no-bond warrant, and Iowa authorities plan to seek his extradition.

~ Postindependent.com, Dec. 5, 2017

If convicted, Syperda faces a mandatory life sentence in Iowa without the possibility of parole.

He is scheduled to go on trial in Henry County on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Elizabeth Syperda’s unsolved murder, please contact the Mount Pleasant Police Department at (319) 385-1450.



Copyright © 2018 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


7 Responses to Elizabeth Syperda

  1. andrea says:

    On June 9, 2012, the “post independent” of Colorado reported:

    “Assault: Deputies responded to a disturbance at a residence in the 3200 mile of County Road 114 near Glenwood Springs at 5:30 p.m. on May 28. Angela Sharee Ockerhausen-Moore, 49, of Glenwood Springs was cited for assault and obstruction of telephone service. Michael Syperda, 47, of Glenwood Springs was cited for assault. Both were booked into the county jail.”

    I wonder if it is the same person.

  2. Not Sure says:

    I still have suspicion her remains could have been buried under where they built the new HWY 34. It was under contraction at the time and completed shortly thereafter she went missing.

  3. The husband was arrested. Article link above.

  4. Stay Strong, Keep Fighting For Justice! says:

    Great news

  5. Lisa Mackey-Fullerton says:

    Michael has been arrested for Elizabeth’s death/disappearance. Happen to read it in local Iowa paper. Sparked my interest and that is what brought me to this Iowa cold case story!
    May Elizabeth’s Family now get some kind of closure. 🙏💜

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