You think about school shopping … and then quickly you realize you don't need to do that anymore and it's sad on a pretty daily basis. There's not a day that goes by that there's not a reminder. —Veronica Kasprzak
DRAPER — Anne Kasprzak would have turned 16 on Jan. 10.
She would have taken her test by now to receive her driver's license, something she had been practicing for nearly a full year before her birthday.
"Those are the things we should be experiencing this year, and we can't. And that's been difficult," her father, Dennis Kasprzak, told the Deseret News.
This Sunday marks one year since 15-year-old Anne Kasprzak disappeared from her Riverton home. Her badly beaten body was found the next day in the Jordan River. One of Anne's sneakers, which had blood on it, was found on the bridge spanning the river near 12600 South.
But after a year, no charges have been filed and no explanations offered for her death.
Dennis Kasprzak said the past year has been "very difficult." Her mother, Veronica Kasprzak, described it as "pretty intense to say the least."
The hardest part after losing her daughter, she said, has been the family's inability to move forward because of the ongoing investigation and the outstanding questions still hovering over the case.
"You never get to move forward. You never get to close this part and just remember Anne and remember the good part," she said. "Instead of having Anne in our life, we have the Draper Police Department."
It's not that the Kasprzaks don't support Draper police or appreciate their efforts, they would just like closure.
"I would rather we didn't have to work with them. I would rather we didn't have a police investigation going on. ... I'd rather have this closed," Veronica Kasprzak said. "I'd like to get to a point where we don't have to worry about that anymore. I'd like to get to a point where we just say, 'OK, this is what happened. This is where it goes from here,' and focus on that.
"Instead, we're stuck. We just get to relive that moment and those months over and over and over again."
Just one week after the killing, Draper police arrested Daniel Robert Lehi Ferry, now 32, for investigation of murder. A week after that, Veanuia Vehekite, 31, was also arrested for investigation of the same charge.
But no official charges were filed in connection with Anne's death.
Ferry was adamant from the start that he did not kill the girl. Earlier this week, the Deseret News talked to Ferry in the Utah State Prison where he again denied having any involvement in the case.
"I'm a lot of things. I'm a gang member, I'm a drug addict, I'm a drug dealer, but one thing I am not is a child killer," he said.
Although he was never charged, he was not officially cleared until Wednesday — something he said was "real important" to him.
In separate interviews this week, both Dennis and Veronica Kasprzak said they no longer believed Ferry is responsible for their daughter's death.
"I think everybody thought it was kind of an open and shut case (when Ferry was arrested). Nearly a year later and no charges have been made. As a family, we do not believe Daniel Ferry had anything to do with Anne's murder," Dennis Kasprzak said.
"From the evidence that police have, it just doesn't match. It doesn't connect. We do not feel that's the answer at this point," Veronica Kasprzak added.
Draper police issued a statement Wednesday confirming for the first time that they no longer consider Ferry or Vehekite suspects in the case.
Family members say Anne would not leave the house without a reason. They believe on the night of March 10 she likely left because of a friend.
Investigators originally believed that Kasprzak went to a party at Ferry's house, 9997 S. Poppy Lane (865 East). Police documents alleged that after she refused Ferry's sexual advances, she was knocked unconscious, rolled up in either a tarp or carpeting, and taken away.
"That was even more shocking to us because we had no idea who this person was; we had no idea how he could have had any contact with Anne," Veronica Kasprzak said.
Ferry told the Deseret News he did not even have a party that night and never met Anne at all. "I don't think we ever crossed the same street," he said.
In the search warrant for the house on Poppy Street, police accused Ferry of making several statements about dumping a body. Ferry, who has been in prison almost constantly since he was 18, said even if he did commit murder, he would not have said those things.
"I'm not stupid," he said. "I don't even know where I was that night. ... The cops really dropped the ball. They thought they had an open and shut case with me."
Ferry is currently serving up to 15 years in prison for kidnapping, attempted drug possession with intent to distribute and drug distribution. His next parole hearing is in nine years.
His crimes occurred on the same night Anne disappeared. Ferry kidnapped a woman who allegedly owed him money. Two other women reportedly assisted with the kidnapping. The kidnapped woman said she was knocked unconscious, bound and transported with a blanket over her head to a home in Salt Lake County where she was forced to stand in front of a dart board. Darts were thrown at her, piercing the skin of her upper body. The woman was beaten and her head was shaved, according to charges.
While Ferry still denies much of the incident, including throwing darts and shaving the woman's head, he believes a woman "mad at me over heroin" heard about the Kasprzak case and gave police bad information that he was involved as a way to get back at him.
Christian Warmsley, a private investigator hired by Ferry in his drug case, believes police arrested Ferry after mistaking information from one case as being connected with the other.
On Wednesday, Draper Police Sgt. Chad Carpenter said detectives stopped looking seriously at Ferry as a suspect a couple of months ago, although he declined to go into details about how investigators reached that conclusion.
Now that Ferry has been ruled out as a suspect, the Kasprzaks would like the focus of the case to shift elsewhere. In addition, they'd like the public to remember that the case isn't solved and that a killer is still on the loose.
"We do believe in Draper police, we're not saying anything negative towards them. We just want answers. We want to move forward," Dennis Kasprzak said. "We are looking for that one tip that breaks this case open. ... With everybody focusing in on Mr. Ferry, you know, I think that conversation kind of stopped, and it needs to reopen."
Veronica Kasprzak said it was important to explore Ferry and for Draper police to follow the leads they had at that point.
"It's hard to feel (the months) were wasted. (Police) had every reason to believe it was viable information," she said." I can't feel frustrated with that because they did what they needed to do at the time. It's unfortunate the information doesn't appear to be genuine or accurate.
"I don't think we're at square one as far as not having any idea where to go. But obviously we aren't where we'd like to be from where it happened," she said.
Police say little
Draper police declined to answer specific questions Wednesday about where the case is now that Ferry is no longer considered a suspect.
"We are still investigating," Carpenter said. "The police department is diligently working on this investigation. It has been the highest priority for us."
As for the notion that a killer is still out in the public, "It makes you look at everything," he said. "It makes you work even harder. Hopefully you can bring some closure to the family. You just do the best that you can. Sometimes cases go unsolved. We hope in this case that's not the case."
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said while his office will assist any agency with a case, it will not direct an agency's investigation. Gill said his office had talks with Draper police in the early stages of their investigation, but prosecutors have never met with them to consider official criminal charges.
"We certainly entertained everybody's theories as we bounce ideas back and forth and our job is to have them looked at," Gill said. "We do not ever specially tell someone you should not be looking at this person or not look at that person. But we tell them if a certain area is strong or weak."
No more secrets
To try and solve the case, the Kasprzaks are offering a $5,000 reward. They are also starting a new campaign that they plan to launch at a vigil Sunday night for Anne called, "No More Secrets — Be The Change."
"Secrets can only be a secret for so long," Dennis Kasprzak said.
The family strongly believes that someone knows what happened to their daughter, and they think the one tip they need may come from Anne's peers. They believe a teenager — specifically a student from Riverton High School, Summit Academy High School or Oquirrh Hills Middle School where Anne attended or her former classmates are now attending — may have key pieces of information. They are hoping that either a student steps forward or parents will talk to their teens to find out if there is anything anyone is hiding.
"I hope they realize this isn't helping anybody to keep it a secret anymore," Veronica Kasprzak said.
Whoever may be withholding information could likely be carrying a heavy burden around with them, she said.
"They always look over their shoulder and wonder if someone's going to find out what happened until the secret comes out. And they're never going to be able to get any help," she said. "That person's life needs to change."
Even Ferry said he hopes the person responsible will be caught.
"It's too bad. That was just a little girl," he said. "There's somebody out there who's a killer who's still free, who is laughing at everybody and a little girl is dead."
The Kasprzaks say they are trying to move on for the sake of their four other children. But nothing "feels normal" to them any more.
"Sometimes you get into the habit of, 'I need to go wake up Anne for school,' or 'I need to figure out what she wants to do this summer.' You think about school shopping … and then quickly you realize you don't need to do that anymore and it's sad on a pretty daily basis. There's not a day that goes by that there's not a reminder," Veronica Kasprzak said.1 comment on this story
"Regardless of what happens, and regardless of what answers we get, we aren't going to be able to bring Anne back," her father added. "Each day is difficult with that. So we want answers for her, we want answers for moving forward. Most importantly, we don't want to see anyone else get hurt.
"There is still someone out there that committed this crime and we do not want to see anyone else be hurt, even if it's that individual themselves."