EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio- Over the past eight years, the case of 72-year-old Willie Standberry, an East Cleveland grandfather who vanished without a trace in 2006, has confounded his family and police.
East Cleveland police are now trying to turn up the heat on the cold case, by offering a $5,000 reward for information that will uncover the truth about what happened to Standberry.
Sgt. Scott Gardner told FOX 8, "I believe that any person that goes missing, a homicide victim, those people, not only do they need justice and the truth be told, but their family needs closure and needs to know what happened."
Private Investigator Pete Demopoulos volunteered his services, after seeing the Standberry case profiled on TV five years ago.
He believes that Willie Standberry was murdered inside his home by someone who knew him well. The home has since been demolished, and so has most of the evidence, but bank records that still exist show that someone plundered Standberry's bank account after he vanished.
Demopoulos told FOX 8, "Just by looking at the signatures, they weren't Mr. Standberry's signatures; they were other people's signatures and I don't know who specifically but there are definitely some improprieties with his accounts."
East Cleveland police said the key to solving the mystery is finding out what happened to Willie Standberry's car.
They said their investigation has revealed that a member of law enforcement may have actually seen the car being destroyed at a Cleveland salvage yard shortly after Standberry disappeared. Investigators said the green 2001 Ford Focus was reportedly spotted by an undercover state agent who was investigating a car theft ring, and was unaware of the importance of the car in the Standberry case. "I have every reason to believe that his vehicle was, for lack of a better term, shredded at a local salvage yard, and there is strong indications that Mr. Standberry may have been in the vehicle when it was shredded.”
Anyone with information about the Standberry case, is asked to call East Cleveland police at 216-681-2162.