MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa – A Colorado man has been charged in the cold-case killing of his estranged wife in Iowa, where they used to live and where she was last seen 17 years ago.
Michael Lee Syperda, 52, was taken into custody without incident Thursday near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which is about 130 miles west of Denver, according to the Iowa Public Safety Department.
A grand jury in Henry County, Iowa, indicted him Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Elizabeth Syperda, who was 22 years old when she disappeared. Court records don't list an attorney for Michael Syperda. Authorities intend to have him extradited to Iowa.
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent Ryan Kedley declined to say what led to the arrest after so many years, including whether Elizabeth Syperda's body had been found. But he praised the combined work of law enforcement agencies for the breakthrough in the case.
"We're very, very happy that some sort of resolution has come in this case," Kedley told The Des Moines Register.
Elizabeth Syperda was last seen July 16, 2000, in Mount Pleasant. Family and friends think she may have gone on a walk to meet Michael Syperda, who lived nearby. The two were estranged at the time.
Her home's front door was locked from the outside and all of her belongings were left behind, investigators said.
Elizabeth Syperda's mother, Donna Forshee of Roseville, California, told northeastern Missouri television station KTVO that her daughter had moved from California to Iowa with Michael Syperda and she thinks he was upset that her daughter planned to move back to California.
"This is the best news we've had in 17 years. ... It's been a long time waiting for it and we're very happy that he's in custody," she told the station, which also serves southeastern Iowa, where the couple lived.
A month before she disappeared, Michael Syperda was arrested for assaulting his wife and her roommate. He was put on five years of probation in November 2000 after pleading guilty to burglary and domestic abuse.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department and the state Division of Criminal Investigation reopened the investigation in March.