Lead investigator for Natalee Holloway joins search for LR missing teen

Ebby Steppach was just 18 years old when she went missing on October 24, 2015.

It's been nearly two years since a Little Rock Central High School teen vanished without a trace, and now the lead investigator in Natalee Holloway's case is joining the search for Ebby Steppach.

Steppach was just 18 years old when she was reported missing on October 24, 2015. Since then, a different team of LRPD detectives have been assigned to her case.

On Tuesday, KATV spoke with investigator TJ Ward, who's hoping to shed some light into what happened to Steppach.

“I'm not going to stop searching for her. If she's dead or alive, I’m going to find her,” said Laurie Jernigan, Steppach’s mother.

It's been two years of searching and praying for Jernigan, and despite multiple dead ends and no answers, she remains hopeful.

"We will find her, and we'll find who's responsible for this. They haven't gotten away with anything. It's just a matter of getting to them,” Jernigan added.

To help this family get to that point, they contacted Ward. Jernigan added she was surprised he contacted her back quickly.

"I looked into the facts and circumstances around it. They were kind of interesting and a puzzle, and of course there was some issues between the family and law enforcement early on,” said Ward.

Ward met with LRPD detectives this week, hoping to share information. Ward said, while they currently have a good group of detectives, some aspects early on in the case were botched, which means going back and starting from the beginning.

“We have to go back and there's somebody that knows something in this case. There's a lot of players. Apparently, there was some kind of party or gathering that she was at just prior to her going missing and rest assured, and nature has it, people talk,” he said.

"I just want Ebby safe, happy, healthy...wherever that is. I’m prepared both ways as much as I can be. My focus now is more on what now this investigator is going to do,” said Jernigan.

The last known active search for Steppach was when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children combed through Chalamont Park for three days last November.

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