Missing Man’s Biz Partner Told Stories of Million-Dollar Debt, “Mysterious Life”
In secret police reports obtained by Patch, detectives say the business partner of missing man John Spira painted a negative picture of the vanished man — one Spira’s sister vehemently disputes.
The business partner of missing St. Charles man John Spira accused him of racking up “massive debt” in “excess of $1 million,” and speculated that this prompted him to skip town, according to police reports recently obtained by Patch.
Spira’s partner at Universal Cable Construction, David Stubben, also theorized that Spira “might have been taking money from the business” and “would not rule out” that the missing man had something to do with a suspicious fire that gutted the company building nine months after he vanished, the reports said.
The DuPage County Sheriff’s Department surrendered about 350 pages of reports on Spira’s February 2007 disappearance following a request made under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
Spira’s sister, Stephanie McNeil of Phoenix, AZ, has waged and won a six-month freedom of information fight of her own with the DuPage County cops. She has yet to receive her copies of the police reports on her brother’s disappearance, but believes they are being mailed to her.
When told of the allegations made by Stubben, McNeil lashed back, saying, “That’s something a person with some involvement would want the police to believe.”
McNeil said she has not spoken to Stubben — who was a long-time associate and friend of her brother — since soon after Spira vanished. She said Stubben was uncooperative with friends and family concerned with finding her brother.
“In my opinion, he’s got something to hide,” McNeil said of Stubben, who lives in Winfield. “That’s the actions that you take.”
Stubben, 48, was among the last people to be seen with Spira. They were reportedly together in the Universal Cable office the evening of Feb. 23, 2007.
Stubben reportedly told the police he saw Spira “talking to a vendor, Daniel Bernadec, in his office” when he left for the night about 7 p.m.
But Bernadec claimed he left before Spira and Stubben, police said. Another vendor, Anthony Distefano, reportedly said “Dave and John were the only two individuals left at the business” when he departed.
Reached by telephone, Stubben refused to discuss Spira’s disappearance or the statements attributed to him in police reports.
Those statements include some he made during an interview at the sheriff’s office 12 days after Spira was last seen.
The interview was videotaped and Stubben was read his Miranda rights before he was questioned, which apparently surprised him, police said.
During this interview, Stubben reportedly told detectives he was “originally unconcerned because John had disappeared before” and that Spira “lives a mysterious life.”
He also told detectives that Spira “sanitized his office area and threw out several boxes of ‘stuff.’ He also shredded two big bags of paperwork” shortly before disappearing, police said.
Detectives asked Stubben to submit to a polygraph, to which he reportedly replied that “he wanted to talk to an attorney before taking the test. He advised he would contact his attorney and get back with us at a later time. Since this interview, Dave has never contacted me regarding the polygraph as he previously stated nor has he called to inquire about the status of the case.”
McNeil said her brother, who was 45 when he disappeared, was not struggling with “massive debt” and had no prior history of disappearing. And she bristled when told that Stubben suggested that she — as well as her brother — might have had something to do with the fire at the Universal Cable Construction office.
“That’s laughable,” said McNeil, who is certain her missing brother was murdered. She also believes Stubben, along with her brother’s estranged wife, Suzanne Spira, knew more about what really happened than they were letting on.
Suzanne Spira died at age 60 in her home in Orchard Park, NY, in October 2010.
She and John Spira were in the midst of a bitter divorce but still sharing the same home when he disappeared.
When detectives paid Suzanne Spira a visit two weeks after John Spira was last seen, she acted somewhat suspicious, to say the least, according to police reports.
“Suzanne appeared nervous and upset and within a couple of minutes into our conversation Suzanne stated, without prompt or being asked, that she was being honest with me about not knowing where John was,” a report says. “She stated that some people lie and can’t keep their stories straight and she will tell me the same story twenty times and it will never change. Due to the infancy of the investigation I did not pursue the obviously strange out of place statement.”
Three months later, according to a report, Suzanne Spira told the police she and Stubben — who by then was not communicating with John Spira’s family — were “in touch 2 to 3 times a week since John’s disappearance. Dave has continued to provide Suzanne with John’s weekly paycheck in order for her to take care of the monthly bills.”
As with Stubben, the police asked Suzanne Spira to take a lie-detector test.
“She replied by saying she saw no reason for her to have to take it,” according to a police report.
In May 2007, police said, Suzanne Spira’s lawyer left a phone message with a detective that she would be skipping a meeting with investigators and “she was not going to allow us to enter her house.”
While the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department did surrender a few hundred pages of reports, some paperwork was omitted. Sheriff’s department Freedom of Information Officer Kent Kouba also noted there is “information regarding the case that may or may not be available due to grand jury findings,” which was the first John Spira’s family had heard of any grand jury inquiry into his case.
John Spira’s best friend, Jim Emma, also said that he was not subpoenaed and knew nothing about a grand jury being convened.
McNeil hopes that, at the very least, Stubben and the now-deceased Suzanne Spira were called to testify, although she may never know if that happened.
Even though she was not included in the grand jury, that fact one was convened gives Spira’s family hope that the sheriff’s department believes he may have been the victim of a homicide, and not a man who dropped out of circulation on his own accord. McNeil has now called on the department to declare this publicly.
“I want them to stop calling this a missing person’s case,” she said. “Start calling it a murder and start naming the persons of interest.
“Stop blaming John for his disappearance,” she added. “He didn’t do this. He doesn’t want to be gone. He wants to be here.”