Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018

Syperda sentenced to life in prison

Former HC man convicted in June of murder in 18-year-old cold case
Aug 24, 2018
Photo by: John Lovretta/ Defense attorney Kym Auge talks with her client Michael Syperda,  during his sentencing hearing on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.  Syperda received the mandatory life sentence for killing his estranged wife almost eighteen years ago.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Michael Syperda was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and is to pay $150,000 restitution for the murder of Elizabeth Syperda, who disappeared from Mt. Pleasant just over 18 years ago.

Syperda, 58, of Rifle, Colo. and a former resident of Henry County, was convicted of the murder of his 22-year-old wife Elizabeth Syperda on June 25 following a five-day trial in May. Judge Mark Kruse found the defendant guilty, despite the fact that Elizabeth’s body has never been found. Syperda will be held at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.

Given the opportunity to comment before sentencing on Thursday, Aug. 23 at the Henry County Courthouse, Syperda responded, “No, your honor,” to Judge Kruse after conferring with his lawyer Kym Auge.

After delivering Syperda’s life sentence, Kruse continued, saying the punishment fits the crime. For approximately 6,611 days, Elizabeth’s mother, Donna Forshee, and brother, Michael Forshee, and other family and friends have grieved her — a burden that will never go away.

In those 6,611 days, Elizabeth would have experienced many things that make life so special, Kruse said. “She may have gone to college. She would have celebrated many Christmases. She would have had times of joy, and like anyone else, she would have had times of sorrow. She may have found a career or careers. She may have had a family,” he said.

As Donna took the witness stand to address Syperda, she said she will forever live with the question of how she could have prevented her daughter’s death. The worst day of her and her family’s life was when Syperda moved across the street from the Forshees in California. It was then, when Elizabeth was only 14 years old, that Syperda began grooming her, Donna said.

Elizabeth, who worked for Syperda and his wife at the time Sally Crill baby-sitting their two children, left her family home and moved across the country with them to Henry County when she was 17-years-old; a move her mother Donna greatly protested.

Syperda and Elizabeth married after Syperda and Crill divorced. Donna said Elizabeth loved Syperda’s children as if they were her own and wanted so much to have children of her own as well.

“She was such a sweet, vulnerable young girl, and then she lost her father at the age of 15, which made her even more vulnerable and impressionable,” Donna said through tears.

Addressing the judge, Michael Forshee, Elizabeth’s brother, added that it is ironic that it was 25 years ago to the day on Aug. 23 that their father died from cancer. While Michael’s father was taken from the family because of disease, his sister was taken by an “avoidable” crime, Michael said.

“Our lives have been forever darkened because of Mike Syperda’s actions on July 17, 2000,” Michael said. “Mike Syperda is a manipulative, cruel person with a pattern of abuse who has no regard for another human’s life, not to mention the lives affected by her absence.”

“He intentionally took my sister, Elizabeth Nicole Forshee, from this world with no regret nor concern,” Michael continued with determination. “For this reason, I pray that he may never be allowed to darken the doorstep of another family’s home as long as he shall live.”

During the sentencing hearing, Forshee plead with Syperda to tell them where Elizabeth’s body was, saying that if he had an ounce of decency or compassion for anyone, including his own children, he would tell them where she was.

“I hope he lives in misery and pain for the rest of his life,” Donna continued, clearly enunciating her words.

Prosecuting Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said Donna and Michael have lived the nightmare over and over again since Elizabeth went missing.

“I’ve had lots of interactions with (Donna and Michael Forshee),” Brown said. “Not once have they acted profanely toward Michael Syperda. The dignity that you heard in their victim impact statements today are exactly the type of people they are. They are good, decent people who had their daughter and sister ripped from them by the defendant.”

As Syperda was ushered out of the courthouse, the Forshees thanked everyone involved in the search for Elizabeth and justice for her, including Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Ron Archer, Lieutenant Lyle Murray and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation for their diligent efforts over the last 18 years

“The ongoing support of (Elizabeth’s) friends in the area has meant more than words can describe, and we will never be able to fully express our gratitude to all who have helped us remember, search for and honor (Elizabeth’s) memory,” Donna and Michael wrote in a joint statement. “We still have not been able to bring (Elizabeth) home to be buried next to her father, so we urge everyone to continue to look for her at every opportunity.”

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