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Erin Pospisil was reported missing to the Cedar Rapids Police Department on June 3, 2001.
The [then] 15-year-old was last seen leaving her home with Curtis Padgett and hasn’t been seen since.
According to Padgett — a friend of Erin’s older brother — he was leaving the Pospisil home at the same time as Erin and agreed to give her a ride to her friend Brit’s home, where Erin and Brit planned to watch movies or go to the movie theater.
Padgett later told officials that when they arrived at Brit’s home in the 1500 block of Second Avenue SE late Sunday, June 3, 2001, that Erin went up to the door and knocked but no one answered.
Padgett said that as Erin walked back toward his truck, an early ’90s model black Chevrolet Cavalier with tinted rear windows pulled up to the curb.
According to Padgett, Erin went up to the car and had a short conversation with someone in the vehicle and then told him “These guys will give me a ride,” before getting into the Cavalier’s back seat.
Padgett said Erin went with them willingly, though no other witnesses reported seeing either a black Cavalier or Padgett’s pickup in the neighborhood that night.
Padgett remains the last known person to have seen Erin alive, and no one knows what happened after Padgett drove away from the Pospisil home with Erin buckled into his pickup’s passenger seat.
Padgett’s name was in the news again after Dennis Lee First, 64, was stabbed and beaten to death Friday, May 11, 2007, in his 2249 C St. SW Cedar Rapids apartment. Padgett lived next door to First and told police he’d last seen First alive two days earlier on Wednesday, May 9.
Dennis First’s homicide remains unsolved.
In April 2016, one of Curtis Padgett’s former classmates contacted Iowa Cold Cases to share his own experiences with Padgett as well as other incidents he witnessed.
Adam S. (name on file and available to investigating law enforcement agencies), said he attended school with Padgett in Cedar Rapids in the 1990s.
“He used to get bullied a lot, but I think it was mostly because of the reaction other kids could get out of him,” he said. “If they bullied or teased him enough they would get him to make a scene and people would laugh about it.
“Padgett was somewhat out of shape and didn’t really have any friends, said the classmate, who felt sorry for Padgett at the time.
“One ‘Curtis moment’ I remember is in gym class when we had to run the mile,” said the former Harding Middle School student. “We ran the mile in more of a cross country style, not on a track. When the mile started Curtis just kind of walked to where a bush was and just laid down on the ground and hung out. The gym teacher eventually got mad and Curtis got up and finished walking the mile, getting some 22 minute mile time.”
The other kids made fun of him about it, Adam said, but Padgett hadn’t had any type of crazy response that day. Instead, his personality reflected that of one who’d been defeated … one who’d simply given up.
That all changed as Padgett got older, he said. Though Padgett remained a quiet student, he would “absolutely explode with anger if teachers or other students upset him.” Adam said he has memories of different episodes, some of which occurred over very minor things.
“Once the entire class was dead silent as we took an exam,” he said. “A student behind him accidentally kicked Curtis’s chair leg and he stood up, red in the face, and yelled “DON’T KICK MY F&!#ING CHAIR!”
“That’s the personality trait I remember most — a quiet person that would snap in an instant,” he said.
According to StopBullying.gov, the effects of childhood bullying can be catastrophic. Many go on to suffer lifelong depression or commit suicide. Others go on to become even more violent bullies themselves, retaliating in a number of ways.
In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied, the Stop Bullying website reported.
Erin — a freshman at Metro High School — lived with her father and stepmother, Jim and Carolyn Pospisil, and three siblings when she disappeared. The family distributed fliers and posted billboards with Erin’s photo and description, to no effect beyond a few tips that proved unfounded.
Erin has a small scar above one eye and had red highlights in her hair at the time she disappeared. She was last seen wearing a light-colored tank top and beige overall shorts.
In a KCRG TV-9 story that aired May 7, 2013, Erin’s grandparents, Joan and Doug Minney of Cedar Rapids, said they continue to hold out hope for Erin’s return. The family created the website Help Find a Child and updates it regularly with hopes Erin will one day come home.
The recent discovery of three missing women in Cleveland gave the Minneys a glimmer of hope.
“Our daughter called us and said ‘you are not going to believe this,'” Doug Minney told KCRG. “We got on the internet right away.”
Joan Minney empathized with the three women’s families.
“Just knowing what those families had to be feeling, that they never gave up hope and now they have their children back … that’s what we pray every day,” she said.
Tuesday morning, May 7, Doug Minney passed out more than a hundred small missing persons cards.
“People think it will get easier; I think it gets harder,” Joan Minney told KCRG. “I know someday I’ll know where she is and all that happened, but I just want it to be today.”
On Saturday, May 25, 2013 — National Missing Children’s Day — Erin Pospisil’s family and friends gathered in Jones Park for a balloon launch to remember Erin. Despite the cold and rainy weather, the event — the 10th since Erin disappeared — went forward as planned, though those in attendance took the balloons home to release at a later date.
Jim and Carolyn Pospisil told KWWL the gathering also honored other missing children, all of whom they hoped would one day safely return home.
Dental information / charting is available and entered.
A DNA sample has been submitted and tests are complete.
On April 14, 2016, Erin would have celebrated her 30th birthday. Since her disappearance, she’d already missed 15 Christmases and 15 birthdays. To celebrate the milestone birthday year, her family marked her absence by helping local students give back to those in need.
The Pospisils’ goal was to help raise funds for Metro High School – the same school Erin attended – so students could attend a service trip to South Dakota’s Oglala Lakota Nation reservation. There, the group helped repair buildings and outdoor facilities while being fully immersed in this near-Third World culture.
The Pospisils hosted the public fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17, 2016 at The Quarter Barrel, a restaurant, microbrewery and quarter arcade located at 616 2nd Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.
Metro’s cost to send each student was $499, and the school worked with Re-Member, a South Dakota based organization, that seeks to improve the quality of reservation life for the Oglala Lakota Indian community. The Pospisils hoped those attending the April 17 event would commemorate Erin’s 30th birthday by contributing $30 or more toward the school’s service trip project. Read the original blog post about this event here.
If you have any information concerning Erin Pospisil’s whereabouts please contact Det. DeVore at the Cedar Rapids Police Department at 319-286-5350.