Blood found, still no arrests two years after South Elgin teen vanishes
Two years after a South Elgin teenager disappeared, newly released documents reveal police found her blood on a neighbor's trash can and have long suspected someone murdered her.
No arrests have been made during what's been an agonizing 25 months for Kianna Galvin's family. Her parents, long aware of the details of the investigation, said they live with the daily torment of knowing someone hurt their daughter. They yearn for resolution.
"The main, prime suspect in my daughter's disappearance lived at a home five houses from me," Fiona Galvin said. "Imagine that."
Kianna left her house on Concord Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. May 6, 2016, telling her younger sister she was going to nearby Jim Hansen Park, her family said.
Instead, she went to visit a man who lived in the basement of a home on Revere Road, according to a November 2016 search warrant affidavit released last week after a Freedom of Information Act request. Police had reason to believe Kianna was a victim of aggravated battery and murder, and were looking for fingerprints, clothing and other evidence connected to the missing teenager, the documents show.
The search was conducted Nov. 8, 2016. South Elgin police declined to say what, if anything, it yielded.
The documents state Kianna's cellphone records and Facebook messages from the day she went missing show she arranged to meet the man to get marijuana. At about 12:35 p.m., Kianna said she was "OMW" -- short for "on my way" -- and he responded "Aight."
The man was questioned by police five days later and said Kianna did not enter the home where he was living. She left by 12:45 p.m. while text-messaging another man, he said. But Kianna's cellphone showed no text messages to anyone else at that time, and her phone was disconnected from the cellular network at about 1:10 p.m. "in a manner that would be indicative of the battery being removed or the cellphone being destroyed," documents state.
The Daily Herald won't name the man because he has not been publicly named by police. He later assaulted a woman and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
A neighbor who lived next to the home on Revere Road reported to police he found blood on the lid of his garbage can May 12, 2016, documents show. The blood was not there when he took the garbage can out to the curb the day before, the neighbor said.
The neighbor also told police he saw Kianna go into the home where the man lived either the day she went missing, or the day before.
The blood was sent to the state police lab for testing. A lab report dated Sept. 21, 2016, showed the blood was a 99.999 percent match for "the biological offspring of Everick York and Fiona Galvin," documents state. York, who lives in Rockford, is Kianna's father.
Documents also state that on June 6, 2016 -- a month after Kianna was last seen -- police were told that remodeling work had been done in the bathroom in the basement of the house on Revere Road.
Chicago forensics expert and former private investigator Paul Ciolino said it shouldn't have taken months to get a DNA match for the blood so a search could be conducted.
Police should have determined the blood was human with a simple test and put a "rush" request to state police, Ciolino said. "If they wait too long, the body is gone, and presumably the evidence," he said.
South Elgin Police Deputy Chief Randy Endean declined to comment on that. "In total, there's been a lot of work done over the past two years," he said.
The first few days
Galvin said she tried to reach her daughter to see where she was, but waited to report her missing because the teenager occasionally spent the night with friends. By the time Mother's Day came around, she knew something was very wrong, she said.
A police report states officers went to Fiona Galvin's house the evening of May 8, 2016. They asked Kane County Emergency Communications to list her as a missing person in the Law Enforcement Automated Data System and call local hospitals and mental health centers. At about 2:25 a.m., police asked KaneComm to trace Kianna's phone, but the provider said it appeared the phone was turned off.
KaneComm informed police Kianna had been listed as a runaway in 2013 and 2014. Police previously had responded to the home due to arguments between Kianna and her mother.
Galvin said the investigator assigned to the case, Sgt. Mike Flaningam, started canvassing her street two days after she reported Kianna missing, which she believes was too long.
"I think maybe they just thought, 'Oh, mom and her were arguing again about something and she left again for a little bit.'"
Her next-door neighbor Colleen Seal said she remembers the police visit because she's off on Tuesdays. "(Flaningam) said, 'You're aware that your neighbor Kianna has been missing since Friday?' And I said, 'What?' Because I wasn't aware," she said.
Neighbor William Ballard said he believes police at first thought Kianna ran away.
"At first they said, 'Oh, she's just a runaway,'" Ballard said. "I said, 'No, she's not like that.' They said, 'She's into drugs' ... Which possibly she was experimenting with them, but she wasn't that bad ... She was a nice girl."
Ciolino said police should have acted quickly by flooding the neighborhood with officers and reaching out to the media when Kianna was reported missing. Instead, it was Galvin who contacted reporters two days later.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's model policy states "a thorough canvass of the neighborhood should be conducted without delay."
But the reality is, police departments don't do that routinely because up to 90 percent of the more than 400,000 missing children in the nation are classified as runaways, said Robert Lowery, vice president for the Center.
"I'm not minimizing runaways," he added. "They could have been abducted with no one witnessing, gone into sex trafficking."
South Elgin police appear to have a done a good amount of work on the case, Lowery said.
The Center dispatched a team to South Elgin four months after Kianna went missing, which is uncommon, he said. For a time, there were billboards along suburban highways with Kianna's photo.
"We did big media pushes to share information of this child," Lowery said.
Lowery and Ciolino also point out it's important to call police as soon as a child goes missing, although parents sometimes wait if their kids have a history of running away.
"Time's the enemy when locating a child," Lowery said.
Endean declined to discuss details of the investigation, but said it "remains at the forefront of our department."
Police put in 223.5 hours of overtime, including 69 hours from Flaningam, to investigate the case. They got assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and local and state law enforcement agencies. Searches were conducted as far as downstate Illinois and Michigan, Endean said.
Police communicate regularly with Kianna's mother and keep her informed of the progress of the investigation, Endean added. "We have great sympathy for the pain she is suffering," he said.
Galvin said she believes that, but she's angry the case hasn't been solved. One thing her mind keeps going back to is that police failed to stop garbage from being hauled away from Revere Road that first week, she said.
Endean declined to comment on that or say why after a few months the case was transferred from Flaningam to another investigator.
Flaningam retired from South Elgin in January 2017 and got a job as deputy police chief in Carterville, Illinois. He declined to comment for this story.
Life two years later
The owners of the house on Revere Road declined to comment. The house was searched again by law enforcement March 21, neighbors told the Daily Herald.
Endean didn't confirm that, but said that only one search warrant was issued and all other searches were consensual.
The Daily Herald requested a list of all expenses associated with the Kianna Galvin investigation. Police provided receipts for food purchases and a March 26 invoice for $1,385 for DNA testing from Independent Forensics in Lombard.
Karl Reich, chief science officer for Independent Forensics, said it's rare for police departments to spend money on private labs. He declined to give specifics about the South Elgin case, but said his lab issues test results in a few days up to six weeks.
Residents of the neighborhood said the tragedy hangs in the air.
"It's heartbreaking," said Ballard, who keeps an eye out for strangers and unknown vehicles.
That first summer especially was tough, Seal said.
"Initially it was a pretty eerie feeling around here. I know that I did not walk my child anymore than I was intending to," she said.
Heather McCollim, who lives down the road, said that now she closely monitors her daughter.
"I feel like the neighborhood is not the same. The life ... it's just gone," she said. "Neighbors aren't like they used to be."
Kianna's parents said their pain is always there, sometimes buried deep, often as raw as the first day.
Everick York said he plays "Feel the Light" by Jennifer Lopez on the piano to remember Kianna, who loved the song.
"It's like a wound that's still there, and still trying to move on," he said.
Fiona Galvin said she tries to focus on raising her younger daughter Miah, a junior in high school, and still can't bring herself to go into Kianna's room, where everything remains untouched.
"Regardless that your life goes on, you're still missing a piece that was with you every day," she said.
Both parents said they believe their firstborn is dead.
"I want a funeral," York said. "I want a funeral so bad."