The purpose of longtime C-U news reporter Carol Vorel's new podcast series — Cold Case — is to shed light on unsolved crimes.
Anyone with information about the 1985 death of Barbara Bremer can call Champaign County sheriff's Lt. Curt Apperson or sheriff's investigator J.R. Meeker at 217-384-1213 or METCAD at 217-333-8911 and ask the radio operator for a deputy.
Also, remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers of Champaign County at 217-373-TIPS, 373tips.com, or via the P3 Tips mobile app.
Apperson and Meeker are appealing to the public to call investigators — even with the smallest bit of information. "The worst thing they could do is not call," Apperson said. "That is the absolute worst thing."
By CAROL VOREL
It's been 33 years since the death of Carle Clinic psychologist Barbara Bremer, an unsolved case that continues to haunt her family and investigators.
But police assigned to the 1985 mystery still hold out hope that someone with information will come forward.
"Barbara's unsolved death has troubled me and our family for all of these past 32-plus years," her brother, Dr. William Bremer, wrote in an email to News-Gazette Media. "Our mother died in January of 2012 at the age of 95, still haunted by Barbara's death, not knowing what really happened that early evening on Thursday, Sept. 19, when Barbara went out for a bicycle ride after seeing patients at her job at the Carle Clinic. Since her 'case' has never been solved, a final closure has never been possible."
On Sept. 19, 1985, three days before the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign (above), neighbors saw Ms. Bremer leave her home in the 2000 block of Blackthorn Drive in southwest Champaign about 6:30 p.m. The next morning, Ms. Bremer did not show up for her appointments at Carle.
Those close to the reliable Ms. Bremer immediately become suspicious.
With Farm Aid unfolding at Memorial Stadium that Sunday, her family — along with co-workers, friends, police and others — searched for her without luck.
Five days after she disappeared, a driver saw something shiny at the edge of a cornfield near the intersection of Curtis Road and South Rising Road just southwest of Champaign (above). He stopped to find a bike and a woman's body.
Her shorts and underwear were pulled down, making it appear as though she may have been sexually assaulted.
But Champaign County sheriff's Lt. Curt Apperson said the autopsy showed no evidence of a sexual assault. He said her injuries indicated that Ms. Bremer may have been struck by a large piece of farm equipment while she was riding her bike. Perhaps someone dragged her body into the cornfield to possibly hide what happened, Apperson said.
Apperson said even though investigators have pursued tips and leads for more than 30 years, they have come up empty-handed.
"The case is still open and is being actively investigated to this day," he said. "Unfortunately DNA evidence is not available."
"Whenever you have a case like this, we need the community's help," Apperson continued. "There are people out there who have answers. People who are probably involved in this are getting up there in age and this is a great time to come clean with everything. We'll sit down, we'll talk to them and we'll investigate this to its fullest. Whether it's rumors or whether it's the person walking in saying I did it, we're going to look at every avenue that's presented to us."
The vehicle owned by Ms. Bremer at the time of her death still sits in the driveway at the home of her sister in Greencastle, Ind. (above: From Sept. 29, 1985: Barbara Bremer's family gathers outside her home in Champaign after she disappeared. From left are her sister, Jean Dell of Indianapolis; her mother, Esther Plain of Hammond Ind.; and her brother, Dr. William Bremer of San Francisco).
"Barbara Bremer's brother lives out of state and he comes in and he still drives it when he visits," sheriff's investigator J.R. Meeker said. "It's still an operating vehicle that they have and kept because of the connection to her."
Said Apperson: "That tells you what that family goes through. Every time they walk out to the driveway they think of their family member. We would like to have some closure. That's all we are asking for. Everything else we can work out. It would be nice to have someone come forward whether this was an accident or intentional, to provide the family with some closure."
An interactive map of the locations and details surrounding Bremer's death is below: