Our card this week is Katherine Sjoberg, the aid of hearts from Wisconsin.
In June 1974, 17-year-old Kathy was enjoying all the festivities of prom night when a heated
argument with her boyfriend at the post-prom dance sent her storming off into the cool
summer night, never to be seen or heard from again.
For nearly 50 years, law enforcement in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, have been haunted by Kathy’s
as they’ve tried to find answers to the nagging questions still weighing on the community
How does someone vanish into thin air?
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
Just after midnight on Friday, June 7th, 1974, law enforcement in Jefferson County, Wisconsin,
got a call from a worried mother.
Her name was Ruth, and she was calling to report her 17-year-old daughter Kathy missing.
Ruth said that no one had seen Kathy since her high school’s post-prom party in rural
Jefferson County in the wee morning hours of June 6th, which meant that she had been
missing for nearly 24 hours at this point.
Ruth said Kathy’s prom date and boyfriend had come over to her house earlier in the
day looking for Kathy, and he told her that she had vanished from post-prom.
She stormed off into the dark at around 3 a.m. on the 6th after they got into a heated
argument, and no one had seen her since.
Ruth told law enforcement that she didn’t think it was likely that her daughter had
run away because she had several things to look forward to in the near future, including
Ruth’s own wedding that Kathy was to be the maid of honor in.
Additionally, she’d never run away like this before.
I mean, sometimes she’d go places without telling her mom, but she’d always call home
pretty quickly to let Ruth know where she was and that she was safe, and at this point
it had been hours with no call.
Once the report was filed, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office wasted no time getting
the investigation started.
They jumped right into interviews, starting with the last person who saw Kathy, her boyfriend
They got him to sit down for an interview at 9.30 that morning, and they asked him to
walk them through prom night.
He said that the night was supposed to start at 4 p.m. with him picking Kathy up, but the
tuxedo place was experiencing some kind of delay, he had to wait on that, but once he
got his tux, he picked up Kathy, and off they went to prom at their school.
But Tim said that him being late to pick up Kathy set them off on a bad foot, and it was
the start of a rather rocky night.
He told police that he and Kathy didn’t hang out much at the dance, and he didn’t
really see her except for a few times when he went up and kissed her to, quote, make
sure she wouldn’t be mad.
Now part of the reason they weren’t hanging out much was because Tim was on prom court,
so he had to be on the dance floor a lot.
He said sometime during that part of prom, Kathy disappeared.
He was worried that he hadn’t seen her in a while, so he went searching for her, and
he actually found her hanging out in the restroom.
Tim noticed that she’d been running off to the restroom quite a bit during the dance
and confronted her about it, which led to an intense argument.
Tim said that he then stormed outside, Kathy followed him, and they argued some more.
He didn’t remember exactly about what, but he said that he was so pissed that he just
left her outside and went back to the dance.
He didn’t see her again until after the dance was over when he reconnected with her
and their two friends, Bob and Julie.
The plan was for all four of them to ride together to the post-prom party at the Concord
House, which is like this event hall about 13 minutes away.
So the four of them piled into Bob’s car and pulled up to the Concord House at around
They had some drinks and stood around kind of mingling for a bit, and after that Tim
and Kathy once again split ways because Tim wanted to go play some games and Kathy just
wanted to sit down and relax.
All was fine until around 3 a.m. when someone came up and told Tim that they found Kathy
crying in the bathroom because she’d lost her garter.
Tim was a bit confused because he had the garter.
He’d taken it off of her on the drive there just a little while ago, so he went looking
for her and ended up finding her away from the crowd like just by herself.
And this is what Tim said happened.
He told Kathy that he had the garter the whole time.
She said she didn’t remember him taking it, so Tim asked if she was drunk, and then
she yelled back that she wasn’t.
Tim then got mad and told Kathy that he was upset that she was just wanting to like sit
around all the time and that whenever she got drunk, she acted stupid, to which she
again replied that she wasn’t drunk.
At some point, the two of them ended up outside, and Tim kept pushing, saying that every time
Kathy had two drinks, she started acting weird.
So Kathy then responded, fuck you, and this set Tim off.
He told investigators that he slapped Kathy.
He claimed it wasn’t a hard slap, but obviously it greatly upset her, so much so that she
took off running.
Tim watched her sprint away and go around the corner of the building.
He started to walk back inside, but after a few moments, he decided to go look for her
and see if she was okay.
He went around the corner of the building where he saw her run, but she wasn’t there.
Our reporting team actually paid a visit to the Concord House, and you can see photos
of it in the blog post for this episode on our website, thedeckpodcast.com.
It’s still an event venue today, and it’s out in the middle of nowhere, secluded down
a long gravel driveway and surrounded by some marshy areas and lots of open fields.
There are a handful of homes nearby, and Interstate 94 practically sits right in its backyard,
so close that you can hear the cars whizzing by.
So with this terrain, it’s not like there were many places for Kathy to run off to.
So that’s when Tim went back inside and started asking around, but nobody had seen Kathy.
At this point, he was starting to get pretty worried, so he asked his friend Bob if he
could borrow his car to go looking for her.
He drove the car around, but still couldn’t find Kathy anywhere.
At that point, word had spread at the party that Kathy was missing, so that’s when everyone
joined in on the search.
Here’s Detective Kevin Dobreiner with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
All throughout that night, it sounded like Tim was also going with other friends and
searching like some wooded area, and there’s a marsh down there that they were like canvassing
all over the place.
And later on, ends up over at Kathy’s mom’s house, helping to look for her.
At some point later that day, Tim even went knocking on doors of Kathy’s closest friends
to see if she’d stayed there, but no one had seen her.
And that’s what law enforcement was running into as well.
While Tim’s interview was going on, sheriff’s deputies were canvassing the area around the
Detective Dobreiner said that there were even fewer houses back then than there are today
in that area, so there weren’t a ton of doors to even knock on, and the ones they
did knock on hadn’t seen anything.
The deputies also checked a few vacant houses in the area for any signs of Kathy, but they
came up empty.
After investigators talked with Tim, they wanted to chat with everyone else who was
at the post-prom party.
They thought maybe someone else had seen Kathy run away and could tell them which way she
Or at the very least, maybe someone could corroborate Tim’s story.
Police started by talking to a post-prom chaperone named Ronald, who said that he remembered
Tim trying to leave the building by himself at around 3 a.m.
Ronald stopped Tim and asked where he was going, and he said that his girlfriend Kathy
had taken off and he needed to go look for her.
So Ronald gave him the green light to leave.
This matched up with Tim’s story, giving his narrative more credibility.
Investigators also interviewed a woman named Gail, who said that she actually saw Kathy
outside jumping a fence sometime in the wee hours of the morning.
Detective Dobreiner couldn’t find much information in the case file about who Gail was, like
whether she was a chaperone or if she was a student herself.
And when our reporting team went to the Concord House, it looked like whatever fence Gail
saw Kathy scaling had been torn down in the nearly 50 years since.
So it’s not clear where that whole thing happened or what direction that meant Kathy
But it seems like Gail wasn’t the last person to see Kathy.
The owner of a nearby bar came forward to police and said that when he was opening his
bar the following morning at around 7 a.m., he saw a girl in a blue formal dress walking
across the street alone.
For some reason, investigators didn’t consider this sighting reliable, and it was never confirmed.
So to authorities, the last confirmed sighting of Kathy was actually Gail back at the Concord
All of the eyewitness accounts, confirmed and unconfirmed, were lining up with the narrative
that Kathy had run away of her own accord.
So for the time being, authorities kind of unofficially labeled her a runaway, believing
that she would just pop back up soon.
But even as the days dragged by with no sign of Kathy, some of those closest to her still
didn’t think she’d been abducted or killed.
Kathy’s father, Marvin Sjoberg, told the Waukesha Daily Freeman on June 10th that he
thought his daughter took off on her own that night and just hadn’t come back yet.
But he did add that she’d never run away like this before and that everyone was still
searching for her day and night.
And that is exactly what authorities were doing.
Even though they thought she probably ran away, that didn’t stop them from looking
Over the next few days, upwards of 70 law enforcement officers searched high and low
for any sign of Kathy.
According to the Capital Times, on June 12th, investigators used a helicopter for aerial
searches of the whole east end of the county, and police scoured the area on foot.
But they found nothing.
In that same article, the Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Harry Berger reiterated just
how clueless law enforcement felt, even with five days of searching under their belts.
He said, quote,
Authorities were still clinging to the hope that Kathy would suddenly call her mom and
all of this would be over.
Ruth was holding on to that same hope too.
She remained confident that Kathy would pop back up, if for no other reason than for Ruth’s
upcoming wedding on June 15th.
Ruth told the Waukesha Daily Freeman, quote,
I’m not changing my plans.
If Kathy’s around any place, she’ll be at the wedding.
But June 15th came and went and Kathy didn’t show.
It had been nine days since she was last seen.
And with each passing hour, it became more and more painfully apparent that she hadn’t
just up and run away for good.
Something terrible had happened to her.
Investigators kept searching, but as the days passed by with no sign of her, they got tired
of just waiting for something to pop up.
So they turned to polygraphs, starting with the last person Kathy had talked to before
she disappeared, Tim.
He agreed to take the polygraph.
So on June 21st, he sat down with a polygrapher and answered a series of questions.
But he failed.
The test detected deception on his answer to perhaps the most important question.
Do you know where Kathy is?
To which he responded, no.
What’s interesting is that in several sources I found, including a published book titled
101 Wisconsin Unsolved Mysteries, they claimed Tim took three separate polygraphs and passed
But Detective Dobreiner said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Records indicate that this was the only polygraph Tim took, which, like I said, he failed.
Anyway, even after Tim was told that he failed the polygraph, his statement didn’t change.
He denied up and down knowing anything about where Kathy was.
So the detective let him go.
Tim didn’t take the failed polygraph well.
Later that day, the sheriff’s office got a call from Tim’s mom, who told them just how
upset Tim was that investigators didn’t believe him.
Detective Dobreiner said it’s hard to know if Tim’s frustration was because he was telling
the truth or because he wasn’t.
I think that would be one of the most frustrating things if you’re telling the truth to somebody
and you’re being told that, you know, I don’t believe you.
It’s like, how do I prove to you that I’m telling the truth?
Detective Dobreiner said there was something he found odd about Tim’s story to police that
some might see as a red flag, especially paired with the failed polygraph.
It’s the fact that Tim openly admitted to assaulting Kathy before she vanished.
Which to me, going through some of the interview and interrogation classes and studying that
kind of stuff, I mean, you take it for what it is, a lot of people aren’t going to include
themselves in additional crimes, like battery to somebody, which would be weird, but certainly
not unheard of for somebody to, you know, admit to buying pot or something before they
went and did a homicide to maybe, you know, look at buying the pot instead of the homicide.
So whether or not that’s something that he added to try and take away from what otherwise
might have happened, take it for what it is, it goes both ways, but certainly admitting
to committing a battery to somebody.
After Tim’s polygraph, investigators decided to test other people close to the investigation
to see if anyone else was hiding something.
Over the next few weeks, Kathy’s dad, mom, sister, and some of her friends took tests.
Kathy’s dad Marvin was up first, and he passed.
No deception indicated.
Next was Kathy’s sister Wendy.
And she failed.
She was shown to be lying on three pertinent questions of, do you know where your sister
Have you talked with Kathy since she disappeared?
And did you tell the truth to all these questions?
The next day, Kathy’s mom, Ruth, agreed to take a polygraph, and she too failed.
According to the polygraph results, Ruth and Wendy both possibly knew something about where
Kathy was and had possibly even heard from her.
But the failed polygraphs didn’t stop there.
Later on in July, one of Kathy’s closest friends, Sue, agreed to a polygraph.
And just like Tim, Wendy, and Ruth, Sue failed too.
Deception was indicated on the questions, do you know where Kathy is?
And has Kathy gotten in touch with you?
We asked Detective Dobreiner that with all of these people close to Kathy failing, if
he thought the polygraph machine was malfunctioning, or maybe the polygrapher was interpreting
I won’t say that it’s something wrong with the test.
I’m sure that it was probably interpreted properly.
But there’s a reason why polygraph is not allowed in court.
It’s not reliable.
It’s generally a tool to try and point investigators in a right direction or, you know, open up
a conversation that there might be something more there.
But I mean, it’s not 100% that it shows that you are lying.
I mean, to me, I think that if somebody is stressed or they’ve got anxiety, you’re going
to breathe funny.
You’re going to sweat a little differently.
You might have those little shakiness and your voice is going to show something different.
They’re not reliable, but it opens up additional conversation with somebody.
But here’s the problem.
These failed tests didn’t really open up conversations with anyone.
Just like Tim, everyone else was also adamant that they were telling the truth, even after
their failed polygraphs.
Over the next few months, there were a few leads that popped up here and there.
With every tip that came in, investigators vetted, but nothing panned out.
It was amazing how many people came forward with like, oh, I think that I saw her, or
I took a picture of this girl who looked like her.
Oh, I was driving in Milwaukee and I saw a girl ducked down in a car.
All kinds of these like random, weird little, everybody seemed to know the case and saw her.
As the months faded into years, potential leads still trickled in, each one getting
investigators hopes up as much as the last.
Every time an article of clothing was found that even halfway resembled what Kathy was
last seen wearing, Jefferson County detectives were notified and they’d ask Kathy’s mom
to confirm whether or not it was her daughter’s.
And each time, Ruth said it wasn’t.
For years, these small dead-end leads were all investigators had.
Until 1980, six years after Kathy’s disappearance, when two more people mysteriously vanished
from the Concord House.
On August 9th, 1980, 19-year-old high school sweethearts, Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew,
had made plans to meet up with some friends after attending a wedding at the Concord House,
but they never showed up.
According to Pioneer Press, Timothy’s car was found parked at the Concord House with
his jacket, checkbook, and his wallet still inside.
A few days after their disappearance, Kelly’s mangled clothes were found alongside a nearby
In the days and weeks following Timothy and Kelly’s disappearance, local newspapers documented
the uneasy feeling in the Jefferson County community.
According to Winona Daily News, local teens were hesitant to go on dates alone for fear
of meeting whatever fate Timothy, Kelly, and possibly Kathy met.
For months, the search for Timothy and Kelly continued, with hope waning every day that
they’d be found alive.
Then in October of that year, which is two months after they disappeared, some hunters
found two severely decomposed bodies about eight miles away from the Concord House.
Those two were later identified as Timothy and Kelly.
According to that same article by Pioneer Press that I mentioned earlier, their bodies
were too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death, but the medical examiner was able
to rule the manner of death, homicide, and there was semen found on Kelly’s clothes,
which led investigators to suspect that she’d been sexually assaulted.
Finding Timothy and Kelly’s bodies didn’t seem to bring investigators any closer to
solving the case, but according to the Capital Times, it brought a certain level of closure
to their families.
Kelly’s mom said, quote, we didn’t want it to end this way, but eventually, yes, it
will put our minds to ease, end quote.
It’s that sense of closure that Kathy’s mom, Ruth, still longed for.
At this point, it had been six years, six long years of not knowing where Kathy was,
whether she’d been kidnapped, whether she’d run away, whether she was dead.
In the next few years that followed, Kathy’s case sat right alongside Timothy and Kelly’s
and growing colder as the days ticked by.
Tips still trickled in slowly with possible sightings of Kathy from nearby Delafield,
Wisconsin, even tips from all the way out in California.
But just like with all the previous sightings, each one was false or unable to be proven.
But it wasn’t just the supposed sightings that kept getting investigators’ hopes up.
Every time they got a call about unidentified skeletal remains found anywhere in the country
that matched Kathy’s description, they were optimistic that they’d finally get
But each and every time, Kathy was ruled out as a match by dental records or some other
By the time 1995 rolled around, Kathy’s family had run out of hope that Kathy would
turn up alive.
It had been 21 years since Ruth last talked to or hugged her daughter, and she was ready
to publicly say goodbye.
So in June, she arranged for a memorial service to be held for her daughter at the same church
where Kathy had been baptized.
It was there that Ruth finally let go of the hope she’d been holding on to, that her
daughter would come walking through the door at any moment.
Ruth told the Oshkosh Northwestern, quote,
“‘Everyone that knew her knew she didn’t run away.
She was a happy teenager.
There was no reason why she would,’ end quote.
According to that same article, Ruth was still wondering if her daughter’s disappearance
was connected to Timothy and Kelly’s slayings in 1980.
But even if it could have been proven that they were linked, that would have done little
for catching Kathy’s kidnapper, because Timothy and Kelly’s case remained hopelessly
And both cases would stay that way for another 14 years, until 2009, when DNA led to a shocking
breakthrough in Timothy and Kelly’s case.
A swab taken from a man named Edward Edwards matched the semen found on Kelly’s clothes
all those years ago.
You see, Ed was a handyman at the Concord House back when Kelly and Timothy went missing.
He’d actually been questioned back in the day, and according to NBC News, shortly after
talking with police back then, Ed just uprooted his whole family and left Wisconsin.
According to Oxygen, in 2008, when Kelly and Timothy’s unsolved murder was reopened
and detectives were revisiting everyone who’d been interviewed decades ago, Ed came back
on the radar.
Because he’d fled the area after the murders, he stood out to investigators.
And I’m sure that’s not the only reason detectives found him noteworthy.
You see, Ed had quite the criminal history.
According to Investigation Discovery, he got arrested in 1955 for a break-in, then escaped
from jail and wasn’t recaptured until 1962, when he was jailed for some armed robberies.
After that, he supposedly turned a corner and became this upstanding citizen.
He even wrote a book about his crimes, became a motivational speaker, and grew into a popular
media personality because of how he turned his life around.
But despite his reformed appearance, investigators on Timothy and Kelly’s case were suspicious,
so they tracked Ed down to get a DNA swab.
And like I said, it was a match.
This meant that he was good for the double murder, and I’m sure everyone in Jefferson
County was holding their breath that investigators would connect him to Kathy’s murder, too.
But when police questioned him about her disappearance, things weren’t so cut and dry.
Ed had an alibi for June 6, 1974, the day Kathy vanished.
So Ed effectively dropped off the suspect list for Kathy’s case.
But here’s what gets me.
What Ed’s alibi was, nobody seems to know.
Like, Detective Dobreiner couldn’t find that info in the case file, so our reporting
team posed the question to a retired detective who was familiar with Kathy’s case and familiar
But he told our reporters that he was retired and didn’t do this kind of thing anymore,
which I’m not sure if that means he didn’t remember Ed’s alibi, he didn’t know it,
or just didn’t want to say.
The former detective was kind enough to answer one question.
He said that Ed was not incarcerated at the time of Kathy’s disappearance.
So to me, incarceration is one of the few alibis good enough to make such an obvious
suspect just drop off the list, especially in the 70s.
I mean, it’s not like investigators had cell phone and GPS data at their fingertips
to prove that Ed was across the country or something.
And I think it’s safe to assume that there wasn’t surveillance footage placing him
somewhere else either.
So what was his alibi?
And how is it good enough to make a known killer with connections to the Concord House
be cleared as a suspect?
It kind of blows my mind, and I think it’s something that will keep gnawing at me until
I know the answer, especially since Ed’s murders didn’t stop with Kelly and Timothy.
In 2010, Ed pled guilty to their killings and to other murders.
An Ohio couple named William Billy Lavaco and Judy Straub, who he killed in 1977.
And in March 2011, Ed was sentenced to death for another horrific crime, the murder of
Danny Glockner, aka Danny Boy Edwards, who was Ed’s own foster son.
But Ed didn’t live to see his August 2011 execution date.
Less than a month after his sentencing, Ed died in prison of natural causes.
So if Ed was responsible for Kathy’s disappearance, that’s something investigators may never
It’s possible that secret died along with Ed.
I want to take a second to note that Ed is a killer that many people in the true crime
community know well, not only because of the murders he was convicted of, but because his
victim count is speculated to be far beyond these five murders.
In 2014, a retired police detective named John A. Cameron released a book alleging that
Ed was behind a ton of murders, like the Zodiac murders and at least a dozen other
But since Ed’s not officially a suspect in Kathy’s case, we aren’t going to go into
all of that here.
John’s book is called It’s Me, Edward Wayne Edwards, The Serial Killer You Never Heard
And it goes into great detail about John’s theories.
But they’re just that, theories.
Nothing has been proven and the book has been heavily critiqued as many people find it to
Anyway, Ed’s connection to Kelly and Timothy’s murder was really the last major development
in Kathy’s case.
And even that didn’t pan out as investigators might have hoped.
Detective Dobreiner took over Kathy’s case in 2012, and he said that since then, there
have been glimmers of hope here and there, like small tips and leads trickling in, but
nothing that has led anywhere.
Investigators have been left wanting for answers in the case that’s going on 50 years old.
Detective Dobreiner said the amount of evidence they have in the case today is virtually the
same as what they had nearly five decades ago when Kathy vanished.
And that’s nothing.
We don’t have a body.
We don’t have injuries.
We don’t have blood or semen or anything that gives us anything additional besides
the last person saw her going this way and that’s the last anybody saw her.
But it’s just terrible that there’s such a lack of evidence or knowledge of what so many
questions that we want answered that nobody’s able to.
And that’s why maybe something with like this podcast that somebody is able to, you know,
sparks a memory or, you know, they remember seeing something or maybe they’ve been working
with somebody named Kathy that, hmm, maybe something turns up, you know, it should be
nice to provide some closure to the family or something because there’s so lack of anything.
We asked Detective Dobreiner what he thinks happened to Kathy.
It’s such a tough question because there’s no information.
I mean, there’s so many possibilities given the location where she’s at with the interstate
If she left, is she that highly intoxicated that she goes out onto the interstate and
gets hit by a car by another drunk person driving?
Oh, geez, I just hit somebody and they throw her into the car and they drive away and they’ve
got to take care of it.
Is she picked up by somebody who was a serial killer that ended up doing something and disposed
of her body?
Is she one that just disappeared and, you know, I’m just going to disappear and I’m
never coming back and nobody’s going to know nothing?
And it’s her own decision.
There’s so many possibilities.
And of course, doing this now for 22 years, truth is stranger than fiction.
So what really happened?
I wish I had a better theory, but I’m open to whatever possibilities are out there.
Whether or not I know back in the 70s, it was more prevalent for people to go hitchhiking
and stuff that it’s totally possible that she hitched a ride with somebody.
And I know that that kind of brings up the whole Edward Edwards thing that I questioned
For nearly 50 years, Kathy’s family and friends have grieved the loss of a life gone far too
Kathy’s pain is only amplified by the lack of answers surrounding her disappearance.
But someone out there knows something that can help detectives solve this case and give
Kathy the justice she deserves.
If that person is you, if you know anything about the disappearance or murder of Katherine
Sjoberg in June of 1974, it is time to speak up.
Call Detective Doe Briner at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at 920-674-8624.
Kathy was last seen in a long, light blue formal gown.
She had long, light brown hair parted in the middle, and she had green eyes.
She was about 5'4 or 5'5, and she would be 65 years old today.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?