South Bend
47° F

COLD CASE FILES: The disappearance and murder of Heather Endicott

Published On: May 07 2013 01:48:24 PM CDT   Updated On: May 07 2013 06:46:09 PM CDT
COLD CASE FILES: The disappearance and murder of Heather Endicott

WARSAW – When 24-year-old Heather Endicott disappeared in 2001, many thought she ran away. Her family, though, knew something bad happened. They were right. A few months later, her body was found. But her killer is still out there.

Billy Stambaugh has thought about that day nearly every day.

"I was heading home from work, and I saw her truck sitting at my son's house, and I am still beating myself up for not stopping," says Stambaugh. "That is the last thing I seen of her."

Stambaugh's daughter, Heather Endicott, went missing that night. It was December 4, 2001. Heather was living with her mom at the time. That evening, she left her kids with her mom, went out to her favorite Warsaw bar, and never came home. 

Who was Heather Endicott?

Heather was a quiet girl growing up and a quiet woman. She was a mom of two, and had just found a job.

"I think she was trying to straighten her life out," says Stambaugh.

This, after going through some rough times. She had dabbled in drugs, was going through a divorce and according to newspaper reports had tried twice to commit suicide. 

"She was definitely in the world scene," says Stambaugh, "and got into some bad company."

The question is: Did that bad company catch up to her? What Happened?

The lot where Big Daddy's Sports Bar once sat is nothing but weeds and trash now. The building has been torn down. A crumbled parking lot is all that remains of the nighttime hot spot which sat along U.S. 30 and Anchorage Road in Warsaw. Back in 2001, police say the bar was a hotbed for drug activity. 

The night she disappeared, witnesses told police they saw Heather leave the bar alone, sometime before midnight.

"Some said that they saw her in the parking lot with a subject. Some said they saw her in the parking lot without somebody -- it depends on what account," says Kosciusko County Police Detective Sergeant J.D. Ayres. 

Heather had vanished. Ayres says her truck was left behind and her purse was still inside. Her family grew worried and reported her missing. Rumors flew. Some believed she had run away. 

Then, 4 months later in March, they found her. 

Her body had been dumped in a pond behind Center Centre in Warsaw. 

"The first thought I had was how could anyone do that to a child or to a person," says Stambaugh. "How could they do that and still go on with their life?"

Heather's body was found by some fisherman. They were fishing that lake, noticed the carpet and what appeared to be part of a body, and told police.  Police found Heather rolled up in that large, light blue, piece of carpet. She was partially nude. Police believe she was sexually assaulted. They couldn't tell exactly how she died, but her death was ruled "homicidal violence."

"She did have some injuries, but the injuries alone may not cause death," says Ayres, "but the fact that she was found rolled up in the carpet, mostly nude -- just the circumstances about how she was found, put with the injuries that were located, the pathologist was certain it was a homicide."

Police think more than one person was involved in Heather's disappearance and death, and they believe there are people out there who know something about what happened. 

"Knowing that the person is still out there, knowing that he could do it to someone else's child or mother is, I guess that is, what aggravates me more than anything is knowing he is still out there and he could do it again to somebody else's child," says Stambaugh.

Do you have information that could help solve this case?

If you have information about this case, you can make an anonymous tip by calling Crimestoppers: 1-800-342-STOP or you can call Det. Sgt. J.D. Ayres directly at: 574-265-2211