George Seibel, who established the Morton College Institute for Cold Case Solution in 2004 has met with the relatives of Jenna Crandall, who was found dead in DuPage County Forest Preserve in September of 2014. Seibel was a Chicago police officer from 1969 until 1980 and then became an instructor at Morton. His unit investigates about 8 to 10 cases a year and consists of 15 students. One of the more prominent cases the students solved was the 1983 murder of Janet Benoit, an Illinois woman killed while traveling to her new job in Phoenix, Arizona. Seibel was able to point authorities to a Texas inmate who confessed in 2003.
The local police ruled Crandall’s death not the result of foul play. He has also spoken with the coroner and her friends and acquaintances. Seibel said he became aware of the case after reading about it in the Chicago Tribune in November. He sent a letter to Crandall’s mother Donna Gerhartz offering help. Gerhartz said that she has felt “isolated and alone” with the case. A man walking his dog on September 22, 2014 found Crandall’s body. After an autopsy, authorities were unable to determine the cause of death, but a toxicology report showed she had a number of drugs in her system. The police closed their investigation.
This past summer, Gerhartz and her friend and neighbor Sally Messenger embarked on an effort to find answers. They obtained 100 pages of documents, forensic analyses, and Crandall’s social media accounts.
On September 10, just 12 days before her body was found, Crandall and a friend discussed a woman who was selling medications. The next day, Gerhartz said her daughter told her she was going to the library and never returned.
Her family believes foul play was involved.
Seibel noted that the same Facebook friend whom he calls “Friend A” returned a bag to Crandall’s family after her death saying he hadn’t seen her in months, but the bag had been purchased just 9 days before she disappeared.
DuPage County Forest District police Lt. Howard Oller said he was “wary” of ex-Chicago police officer Seibel’s involvement in the case, but was interested in the Facebook exchange the victim’s mother unearthed.
Sources: Chicago Tribune