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It’s not surprising many still feel confused about the unsolved Gary Eugene Sebek missing person/murder case.
It started out as a missing persons case, and then was investigated as a possible homicide. The FBI soon got involved, and questions surfaced whether the 20-year-old Sebek simply disappeared in efforts to avoid the draft.
Then there was the bloody sofa in Sebek’s apartment, where he’d last been seen the night of Monday, March 4, 1968.
Earlier that day, he’d traveled to a Nebraska City hospital’s maternity ward to visit his wife, Shirley, and newborn son, Patrick. He’d returned to Hamburg that night, never to be seen again.
Many things, however, are known: Sebek’s father-in-law, Victor Kenneth “Buck” Moyer, had taken in and raised Shirley and her brother, John, since they were children, and Moyer wanted Shirley for himself. Moyer hated his son-in-law with such passion he’d told a number of individuals he wanted to kill him or that one day Gary would just disappear and that Shirley would then be coming back to him (Moyer).
Gary Sebek so feared his father-in-law, that during periods when Moyer had forced the couple apart and Sebek stayed with his own father, he slept with the lights on at night and a gun under his bed.
Moyer dominated every aspect of the young couple’s life, eventually convincing Shirley to divorce Sebek. The couple were still in love, and planned to remarry and move far away from Victor Moyers’ control — they’d talked about relocating to Florida — as soon as their second child was born.
Instead, Sebek ended up dead the same night Shirley gave birth to their son.
One year later, by the time 40 law enforcement officials searched 240 acres of ground farmed by Moyer, Shirley Sebek would be remarried and living in Arkansas.
She’d still managed to get away.
Sebek’s gravestone indicates his death occurred the same month he went missing.
What really happened to Gary Sebek?
Iowa Cold Cases looks back at what is known so far.
(More detailed information will be added here soon.)
Sebek visits his wife and newborn son at a Nebraska City, Neb., hospital.
Sebek returns to his Hamburg, Ia., Main Street apartment late that night, where he’s reported to have last been seen alive.
Sebek’s friends — those with whom he regularly drives to work — stop by Sebek’s apartment as usual. The apartment’s lights are on, and Sebek’s open pack of cigarettes lie on the table. The back of the sofa has a large section of blood where one would normally rest his or her head.
Within days, an all-points missing persons description of Sebek is released to the public.
A Hamburg Reporter article publishes comments by Fremont County Sheriff Jim Findley stating there have been no new developments in Sebek’s disappearance. It says Findley’s office — along with state law enforcement officials — checked out several pieces of information during the previous week, but failed to turn up any clues or anything of substantial nature.
The newspaper also reports:
A davenport in the Sebek cottage at the Dave Ware Apartments on Main Street was removed for further study of possible blood stains by Sheriff Findley and has not yet been returned, according to Mrs. Ware. She says to her knowledge the cottage is still under jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office, and no one has moved into or out of it.
Mrs. Sebek and newborn son, Patrick, stay with friends in Hamburg until the cottage can be released to Mrs. Sebek.
Gary Sebek’s parents, Mrs. and Mrs. Charles Sebek, along with Gary Sebek’s wife, Shirley Sebek (with whom Sebek already had a daughter, Lisa Ann), tell the press they do not think Gary “just went off somewhere.”
The Hamburg Reporter publishes an article — “FBI Enters Search for Gary Sebek” — stating the 20-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sebek is now being investigated by the FBI for failure to answer a draft board summons. Inquiries were made by the Bureau at Rock Port, where Sebek was registered for the draft.
The newspaper states:
[Sebek’s] name will go on the list of persons sought in connection with possible draft evasion, and the search for him will automatically become nationwide.
The newspaper says clues as to what actually happened are more likely to be turned up by the FBI than “through the limited facilities of local and state law officers.”
Forty law enforcement officials, armed with a search warrant, post hole diggers, shovels, probes, and a mine detector, spend the day searching 240 acres of ground northwest of Hamburg — the land farmed by Victor Moyer, Sebek’s father-in-law.
The search is conducted under the direction of James P. Tighe, district agent for the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Fremont County Sheriff Ed Collins.
In a story published by the Hamburg Reporter, Sheriff Collins says the “thorough search of ground farmed by Victor Moyer was done to quiet some rumors, and to check out certain aspects of the disappearance not done previously.”
The Reporter cites once again Sebek’s visit to the Nebraska City, Neb., hospital on March 4, 1968, where his wife had given birth to a child, and Sebek’s subsequent return to Hamburg later that day. “No clue,” the paper reports, “has been found as to his whereabouts since he was last seen by friends at his Hamburg apartment.”
The front page story — which contained no byline — also states:
The investigation languished through a political campaign during which Deputy Collins resigned to run for sheriff, winning over Sheriff Jim Findley, and then winning the general election last fall.
Interest in the case surfaced again early this year when the FBI started searching for Sebek when he failed to appear for a draft physical. Results of their work is not known, but the usual procedure is for the FBI to, among other things, start the massive fingerprint comparing process in motion.
The article references a conversation with Sheriff Collins from Monday, April 14, 1969, where Collins tells the paper his office has been sifting information for some time. Collins will not speculate whether Friday’s ground search was based on new evidence.
The Hamburg Reporter also quotes County Attorney Gene Eaton as saying “the case is still under active scrutiny and will continue to be under regular investigation.”
Before the year ends, the city of Hamburg purchases (unrelated) land for the city’s cemetery.
On February 16, 2012 — more than four decades after Gary Sebek disappeared — excavation workers digging a new grave unearthed a skeleton in the Hamburg Cemetery. While many hoped it might be Sebek’s remains and that his family would finally have closure, speculations were put to rest when the Iowa State Archaeologist Office reported the remains — that of a male of European ancestry between the ages of 16 and 23 — had been buried sometime between 1850 and the early 1900s.
Gary Sebek’s body has yet to be found.
Gary Eugene Sebek was born December 29, 1947, to Charles and Ruth Ella (Pierson) Sebek.
A gravestone erected in his memory was placed in High Creek Cemetery in Rock Port, Missouri, in Atchison County.
In addition to his parents, Gary was survived by his wife, Shirley (Moyer) Sebek; a daughter, Lisa Ann Sebek; a son, Patrick Sebek; a sister, Denese Sebek; brother-in-law John Moyer and John’s wife Monica.
Monica Moyer died July 10, 1998, at age 44.
Gary’s parents — married two weeks shy of 66 years — died within 2-1/2 months of each other in 2008; Ruth Ella passed away February 10, with Charles, 87, following on April 19.
Shirley Ann (Moyer) Sebek died Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009 at the Westwood Hills Health Care Center in Popular Bluff, Missouri. She was 62 years old.
Victor Moyer died July 24, 2014.
Gary’s gravestone — which lists his date of death as the same month he went missing — rests next to his parents’ stone.