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updated: 2/28/2011 9:33 AM

Four years later, missing St. Charles man's sister still seeks answers

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  • Stephanie Spira McNeil returns to the area annually to locate her missing brother. Here, she puts up a sign in Wheaton.

       Stephanie Spira McNeil returns to the area annually to locate her missing brother. Here, she puts up a sign in Wheaton.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • John Spira

      John Spira

  • Stephanie Spira McNeil walks along the Fox River in Geneva, which resembles the area where a psychic in England said John Spira's body was left.

       Stephanie Spira McNeil walks along the Fox River in Geneva, which resembles the area where a psychic in England said John Spira's body was left.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • John Spira's last known location was his office in West Chicago. His sister, Stephanie Spira McNeil, stands in front of it four years after his disappearance.

       John Spira's last known location was his office in West Chicago. His sister, Stephanie Spira McNeil, stands in front of it four years after his disappearance.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • John Spira's last known location was his office in West Chicago. His sister, Stephanie Spira McNeil, stands in front of it four years after his disappearance.

       John Spira's last known location was his office in West Chicago. His sister, Stephanie Spira McNeil, stands in front of it four years after his disappearance.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Video: The search for John Spira

  • Video: Remembering Spira

 

The last time Stephanie Spira McNeil saw her brother, he was laughing and happy -- and talking about his future. But the memory is as haunting as it is comforting, now that John Spira has been missing for four years.

"John would never leave us," McNeil said. "As soon as I heard he was missing, I knew he was dead."

Spira, a pilot and blues guitarist known as Chicago Johnny, hasn't been heard from since Feb. 23, 2007. The St. Charles man was last seen about 7 p.m. at a business he co-owned, Universal Cable Construction, on County Farm Road in West Chicago.

DuPage County sheriff's spokeswoman Dawn Domrose said an investigation into the missing man's whereabouts remains active, as does a probe into a fire at his business seven months later, which only added to the mystery.

"We're following any leads we can get," she said.

Spira was reported missing after he didn't show up for dinner plans with a friend at 8:30 p.m. in Oak Brook, and uncharacteristically missed a gig playing guitar later that night.

Authorities initially explored the possibility that Spira, then 45, rented a plane and left the area, but found no record of him flying and quickly located his flight gear.

Relatives later put up a 10-by-10-foot missing persons banner near his business property, but the sign was swiftly vandalized. A day later, on Sept. 16, 2007, the business burned down.

McNeil said she worries that authorities are not taking the investigation seriously.

The only new clue to be released in four years was that there were one or more people present at Universal Cable Construction after Spira went missing, which officials disclosed for the first time last week.

Domrose declined to comment on how the information might factor into the investigation.

"I just hope they haven't quit," McNeil said. "I hope they have information and they're just not telling me."

Every year since her brother's disappearance, McNeil has traveled to the Chicago area from her home in Phoenix, Ariz., to hand out fliers and remind the public that Spira is still missing.

She and other relatives also have conducted numerous searches in forest preserve areas surrounding his home and business, and even consulted a psychic.

"It's hard because I run out of ideas, but I can't let it go," McNeil said. "When there's so many unknowns and so much injustice, you can't move on. We need answers."

Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact the sheriff's office at (630) 407-2333. McNeil also maintains a website, www.johnspira.com, dedicated to finding her brother.

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