Liehnia May Chapin disappeared on Valentine’s Day 2006 shortly after confiding in someone about her stepfather’s alleged murder at the hands of her mother in 1999. She has never been found.
About the Case
20-year-old mother of one, Liehnia (Lena) May Chapin disappeared on Valentine’s Day in 2006. That morning, she said goodbye to her fiancé outside the apartment they shared near Steelville, Missouri. He left for work and when he came home later that evening, Lena was not there and her mother, Sandy Klemp was cleaning their apartment.
Sandy told Lena’s fiancé, Jason Bryant that Lena took off for Florida with a man driving a black 2000 Chevy Cavalier. No one reported her missing until 2008 when her biological father filed a report. Local authorities did not start investigating the case until 2012.
One of Lena’s sisters and one of her friends never bought the Florida story because they both said Lena would never have left her son, Coulter behind. They also said that Sandy insisted Coulter call her mom and not Lena. Sandy wanted custody of Coulter but Lena told her friend, “over my dead body.” After Lena disappeared, Sandy adopted Coulter.
A month after Lena vanished, Bryant moved out of their apartment, and the landlord cleaned the unit. The landlord noticed a broken window and a dark-colored stain on the carpet that could not be shampooed out. However, he threw the carpet away and a fire later destroyed the unit. The landlord said he did not know Lena had disappeared; He believed Sandy’s Florida story.
In 1999, Sandy’s husband, Gary McCullough also disappeared and has never been seen again. In 2003, Lena told Gary’s brother, Albert, Sandy’s ex-husband, that her mother and Klemp killed Gary and forced Lena to help dispose of the body. Albert recorded the conversation, and took it to Dent County Sheriff’s Office.
Salem News Online obtained a copy of the official transcript from the Dent County Sheriff’s Office. An excerpt is below. You can read more of it here.
Albert: “Well who… who killed Gary?”
Lena: “She (Sandy) was crying and all she wanted to say was ‘I can’t believe this happened, I can’t believe this happened,’” Lena said in the recording. “And that’s all she’d say, the whole time when she was freaking out and telling me she was bawling and saying, ‘I can’t believe this happened.’ And I asked her, I’m like, ‘I want to see.’ I didn’t believe it. You know when you think to yourself, okay there’s a dead person in your house, you know, you’re not thinking, okay, come on now, whatever, it’s just like, I want to see. She wouldn’t let me see. She had her door locked. I said ‘I wanna see. I wanna see it right now.’ I know if I had’a seen the whole thing, I woulda flipped out. I woulda flipped out. But there was a crack in the door and I looked and I saw it and I completely went crazy. I started spazzing out on her and I went ‘What the hell happened, what happened,’ you know.”
Lena also said her mother shot Gary while he was sitting on the living room couch eating a plate of scrambled eggs. Then, Lena helped Sandy clean up the murder scene over the course of two days. The two pulled up carpets, bleached the floors and Gary’s body was burned on top of a brush pile, according to Salem News Online.
Lena: “If you want something of Gary’s to stick in the ground there is nothing left,” Chapin was recorded to have said. “He was burned, completely burned and everything. Everything that was, you know, left at the burn pile was put in buckets and spread all over. So I don’t remember where they’re at… I was there, I am the only one that knows. I am the only one that knows exactly what happened, but there is nothing left… there is nothing left. I burned my fingers… I burned a few of my fingers picking up ashes and bones.”
Lena was only around 14 at the time of Gary’s alleged murder. The whole incident traumatically effected her and she had trouble eating and sleeping.
Dent County Sheriff’s Office contacted Lena to interview her, but Sandy hired her a lawyer and police were never able to talk to her.
Police arrested Kristopher Klemp and charged him with murder. However, charges were later dismissed due to lack of a body or physical evidence.
Shortly after Gary disappeared, Klemp moved in with Sandy and they married in 2000 after she was granted a divorce from Gary when he failed to show up in court.
Co-workers of Sandy’s at the time of Gary’s disappearance later told police that Sandy had been planning to kill Gary for about six months before his disappearance. When one asked her why she didn’t just get a divorce, Sandy replied, “I’m not going to give him a dime.”
In June 2006, Gary McCullough’s daughters from a previous marriage filed a civil lawsuit against Lena, Sandy, and Kristopher Klemp over the alleged murder of their father. The judge did not allow Lena’s recorded confession in the courtroom. Regardless, the girls won the lawsuit in 2013, and the judge awarded them a total of $7 million in damages.
Two months later and conveniently after the lawsuit was filed, Sandy made up a story that a masked figure in camouflage attacked her outside her home. She told Dent County Sheriff’s Office that Gary was her attacker and that he was not missing, only hiding. While she did have bruises on her face, there were no footprints in the dew on the grass in the area where she claimed her attacker ran away or in the sand of her driveway. Police did not believe it was Gary.
Sandy and Kristopher Klemp divorced in 2014. Sandy Klemp is now Sandy Wink after marrying her fifth husband. Both Sandy and Klemp still reside in Missouri. Neither one of them has ever cooperated with police regarding Gary or Lena. Every time the media wants to speak with them, the two refer them to their lawyers.
For more in-depth reading on the case, please read:
- After 10 years missing, is Lena Chapin still alive?
- Cover-up, confession and what remains of Lena Chapin
- House of Cards: Where is Lena Chapin?
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
This is one of those cases that just pisses me off. It’s obvious what happened here, yet no arrests have been made.
It’s reasonable to assume that Sandy and Klemp murdered Gary and Lena. Killing Gary paved the way for Sandy and Klemp to get married without a messy divorce. I think they killed Lena because she confessed to Albert and because Sandy, for some weird-ass reason, wanted custody of Lena’s son, Coulter. I find that so bizarre, especially the part where Sandy insisted Coulter call Sandy “mom” instead of Lena. That woman has some mental issues, no doubt.
Bryant said (and the landlord confirmed it) that Sandy was cleaning out their apartment when he arrived home from work the day Lena vanished. Sandy took boxes of Lena’s possessions to her home. Now, if Lena truly just up and left, why would Sandy need to clean the apartment? Why didn’t Lena take her possessions with her? Sandy was cleaning the apartment because Lena’s blood was all over it. It was in the carpet, too. My question is: how did Sandy and Klemp get Lena’s body out of the apartment in broad daylight? Did they dismember her in the apartment then put the parts in garbage bags? I’m guessing they took the body elsewhere and burned and discarded it, just like they did with Gary.
In one of the articles I listed above, Lena’s friend said that Lena confessed to her about Gary’s fate. She also said Sandy frightened many people, and that even though there are people who know what happened to Lena, they’re too afraid to come forward.
Sandy is the only person who had motive to kill Lena. Lena told Albert about the fate of Gary, and Sandy wanted to raise Coulter as her own.
I do not think Lena is alive. She didn’t run off to Florida with a mystery man. It is my opinion that she died on February 14, 2006 at the hands of Klemp and Sandy. The fact that they still refuse to cooperate with police speaks volumes about their guilt. After all, if you’re innocent and have nothing to hide, you’d cooperate.