FBI pursuing 'new strategies' to solve 25-year-old murder of Marlton college student

Justice for Tammy
This August 1992 photo was provided by Tammy Zywicki’s family.

The FBI and the Illinois state police say they are pursuing “new investigative strategies” to solve the slaying of Tammy Zywicki, a college student from Marlton who disappeared while on her way to school 25 years ago this week.

“A lot of people are still passionate about this case,” said FBI Special Agent Amanda Becker, who has been working on the investigation for two years. “No one has forgotten Tammy — not her family, her high school and college friends, and certainly not law enforcement.”

Investigators said they are reviewing and cataloging “the extensive amount of physical evidence in the case” to determine if there is anything that could be tested using the latest techniques for DNA extraction.

Zywicki, 21, had driven her brother to college in Evanston, Ill., and set off for Iowa to begin her senior year at Grinnell College on Aug. 23, 1992.

Her mother called police that night when she did not arrive at school. Earlier that afternoon, an Illinois state trooper found Zywicki’s 1985 Pontiac T1000 abandoned on I-80 near Utica.

Investigators later established that a tractor-trailer had been seen near Zywicki’s vehicle, and the trucker was described as a white male, about 40 years old, over 6 feet tall, with dark, bushy hair.

Zywicki’s body was found nine days later wrapped in a sheet and blanket and bound in duct tape nearly 500 miles away in Missouri. She had been stabbed and possibly strangled.

Lt. Jeff Padilla, an Illinois state police detective who has been working on the case for six years, said investigators had collected about 200 pieces of physical evidence in the hunt for the killer.

A definitive DNA profile has been extracted from a beer can found near where Zywicki’s car was found, but officials say it may not have anything to do with the case.

“That profile has never returned a match with any known offender,” Padilla said in a statement, “and beyond that, we don’t currently have any other profiles because the technology used then was inadequate.”

Investigators says advances in DNA testing could allow them to collect DNA from the blanket, sheet, and duct tape used to wrap Zywicki’s body — as well as other recovered items.

Camera icon Illinois State Police
The missing soccer patch.

A number of items were taken from Zywicki, and anyone with knowledge of them could provide an invaluable lead, the investigators said. They included a Canon 35 mm camera, a musical wristwatch with an umbrella on the face, and a distinctive soccer patch that was removed from her shorts.

In a statement, Zywicki’s mother, Joanne Zywicki, said she never gives up hope her daughter’s killer will be found.

“It always amazes me how many people remember Tammy in different ways,” she said. “She did make her mark. She would have been a very successful person. She was well-rounded and had a lot of interests, and she was very motivated.”

The FBI has posted a $50,000 reward in the case.