'We're not going to stop': Parents of Anne Kasprzak keep looking for answers
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It's been a year since the parents of "Annie" Kasprzak made a plea for someone to step forward with information that would help police make an arrest in connection with their daughter's death.
On the eve of the second anniversary of the discovery of their daughter's body in the Jordan River, Dennis and Veronica Kasprzak again urged that person — or people — to stop hiding and stop keeping secrets.
"You will always be looking over your shoulder and wondering, 'Is today the day that my life changes forever the way I changed somebody else's life?' Because we're not going to stop," was the message Veronica Kasprzak had Monday for her daughter's killer.
On the morning of March 11, 2012, the badly beaten body of 15-year-old Anne Grace Kasprzak was found in the Jordan River. One of Annie's sneakers, which had blood on it, was found nearby on the bridge spanning the river near 12600 South.
Within a week of the discovery, Daniel Robert Lehi Ferry was arrested. Ferry was eventually sentenced to prison in an unrelated case, but charges in connection with Annie's death were never filed, and Ferry vehemently denied having anything to do with her disappearance.
Last year, on the first anniversary of Annie's death, Draper police announced they no longer considered Ferry a suspect.
Since last year, however, there hasn't been much reported in the media about the case. But Draper police said Monday the case is still "very active," though they declined to elaborate.
Since last year, family members and police have received hundreds of tips related to Annie's death, Dennis Kasprzak said. He continues to stay in contact with the police department, talking to them at least once a month either by calling or through email.
Both Dennis and Veronica Kasprzak remain optimistic an arrest will be made.
"It feels like we're so close at times and then so far away the next moment," Dennis Kasprzak said.
Difficult to move on
Annie's parents were divorced before she disappeared. Both have since remarried. They also have two sons in common.
In November, Dennis Kasprzak moved to Colorado — in part, he said, because of the stress of his daughter's death. There were too many "triggers" in Salt Lake County that conjured up both good and bad memories, he said, and he needed to make a "fresh start."
"It's been an emotional roller coaster the last couple of years," Dennis Kasprzak said. "It never becomes easier. Obviously life doesn't stop for you. You have to move forward, and you have to move on, and we have two beautiful boys who need us to do that. So you try to make everyday life as normal as possible, and those thoughts (of Annie) enter your mind daily."
Likewise, Veronica Kasprzak no longer lives in the Riverton home from which Annie disappeared. She plans to move again soon to be closer to friends and family in Weber County.
As much as she wants to move on and make life as normal as possible for her sons, Veronica Kasprzak said she is constantly reminded of her daughter.
"From, 'Yep, these are her earrings,' to 'These are the earrings she got me,' 'These are the ones she'd be borrowing with or without permission,'" she said. "When you see the teenagers hanging out. When you see the kids walking down the street. It's just that, as chaotic as it was sometimes, that's just the way it was supposed to be. It feels too quiet sometimes without her around. It's just hard doing all the things that we still do every day, and there's just boys in the house now."
Moving on has been made more difficult, Veronica Kasprzak said, because her daughter's death remains unresolved. It's also hard when others are constantly reminding her what happened, she said.
"Even at times when you're not expecting it, everybody brings up that connection," Veronica Kasprzak said.
She once attended a workshop for a therapist training session, and the person giving the presentation used Annie's story, not knowing her mother was in the room.
"(She said), 'I'll bet that girl who lived in Riverton that left her house never thought that this would happen to her.' And that was really hard. Because to everyone else, it's just a story. But it's still really personal for us," Veronica Kasprzak said.
"Even that basic question, 'How many kids do you have?' is a constant reminder. And I have to tell most people, 'I have three boys.' Because when people find out that don't know or don't make that immediate connection, they don't know how to handle that. You tell them, 'Oh yeah, I have four kids but my daughter was murdered two years ago.' They don't know how to handle that. And so you just end up carrying it by yourself," she said.
Dennis and Veronica Kasprzak said they believe the key to solving their daughter's murder will come from one of Annie's peers.
"We believe that's kind of the breaking point of this case, is knowledge that a peer may have shared with another about the case. That's what we're hoping. Or something they shared with their parents and they're worried about reporting their kids, something of that nature," Dennis Kasprzak said.
Veronica Kasprzak agreed that someone her daughter knew likely has the answers they're seeking.
On the night of March 10, Annie disappeared from her home near 12800 South and 2300 West. She was believed to be in her room doing homework.
Annie was last seen at 7:45 p.m. She was initially reported to police as a runaway at 8:43 p.m.
Veronica Kasprzak said her daughter would never have left the house unless someone Annie knew were involved.
"Annie, especially at night, would have never left the house unless she had a plan," she said. "Annie didn't do stuff on her own. She was as social as it gets for a teenager. She left to meet somebody. And whether it's the person she met with or somebody else that was there, that's who knows what happened."
Veronica Kasprzak said she's confident detectives working the case will find out what happened, and she encouraged the person responsible to surrender now.
"I would anticipate that if we can't move on from it, they can't either. They are always thinking about, 'Well, what if I said something? When will they find out? When will they catch me?' That's never going to stop. We aren't going to stop because it's hard, because that would be worse," she said.
There is still a $5,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
Dennis and Veronica Kasprzak said they do not have any vigils planned this year in honor of their daughter. Instead, they plan to attend a Utah Jazz game and recall fond memories of how Annie would root for the L.A. Lakers just because everyone else in the family was a diehard Jazz fan.
At the bridge where Annie's shoe was found, someone left flowers and a note Monday.
Dennis Kasprzak said his daughter would have turned 17 in January.
"I'm sure she would have wrecked a car by now," he said with a laugh. "That's one of those things we just plan on. She didn't get to go to a junior prom this year. She didn't get to go to any dances with boys and date. She'd be getting ready to graduate this next year and getting ready to move forward in her life and become an adult. Her siblings miss her.
"You can't give up on your children. She's gone, but we're still here. Our resolve will always be to fight for Annie and make sure this case continues until it's solved."
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