Civil trial granted a change of venue
After waiting nearly 13 years to achieve some sort of justice or resolution, the family of a Cassville man who disappeared in 1999 is once again facing disappointment.
The daughters of Gary McCullough, who was declared dead in 2000, have filed a civil lawsuit against Sandra (McCullough) Klemp, her husband, Kristopher Klemp, Sandra's daughter, Liehnie "Lena" Chapin, and Klemp's ex-wife, Jennifer Lee Brattin, for the wrongful death of Gary McCullough. The daughters filing the lawsuit are April Chanel Chandler, of Winslow, Ariz., and Joy Rose McCullough, of Sioux Falls, S.D.
On June 14, Barry County Associate Circuit Judge Carr Woods granted the defendants' motion for a change of venue, moving the jury trial to Stone County. A date for the trial has not yet been set.
"The (Gary) McCullough family is real upset about the change of venue," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly of the wrongful death suit. "That's something that could have been done months ago."
The family is frustrated over the lack of information and closure concerning the disappearance of Gary McCullough in May of 1999.
According to family testimony, McCullough, 34, had planned to divorce his then wife, Sandra McCullough. He reportedly told his supervisors at the George's processing plant in Butterfield that he was moving out of his home and not to let his wife have his paycheck if she requested it. It was those supervisors that initially reported Gary McCullough missing.
According to case notes with the Barry County Sheriff's Office, Sandra McCullough allegedly told her then 13-year-old daughter, Liehnie "Lena" Chapin, that she had shot Gary McCullough on May 11, 1999, and made the girl help dispose of the body.
Kristopher Klemp, who was allegedly Sandra McCullough's boyfriend, moved into the McCullough home six days after Gary McCullough went missing. Klemp and Sandra McCullough were married in May of the following year after having Gary McCullough declared dead in April of 2000.
After allegedly admitting to a family member that she and her mother had disposed of McCullough's body and scattered the remains, Lena Chapin came up missing in 2008, nine years after McCullough disappeared. That conversation was reportedly recorded.
Investigators don't believe Sandra (McCullough) Klemp's claim that her daughter ran off to Florida with a boyfriend, leaving behind her infant son. Lena Chapin was reported missing by her natural father.
"We don't know where she's at," Epperly said. "There has been no activity on her Social Security number at all. We have no leads."
Epperly interviewed one of the daughters as recently as two months ago, and still there is no word on the whereabouts of Lena Chapin.
Investigators were hopeful when some human remains were found behind a Walmart in Dent County last January, near where Lena was last known to be staying.
"The remains did not belong to Lena," Epperly said. "So we're at a standstill. We need to interview Lena about that tape that was made.
"So that's good news and bad news," Epperly said. "The good news is that the remains didn't belong to Lena. The bad news is we still don't know where she is.
"I would sure like to be able to talk to Lena," Epperly said, "and I'm hoping the McCullough family gets some resolution from the civil case. We'll just have to see what happens."