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Missing Man's Biz Partner Told Stories of Million-Dollar Debt, 'Mysterious Life'

In secret police reports obtained by Patch, detectives say the business partner of missing man John Spira painted a negative picture of the vanished man — one Spira's sister vehemently disputes.

The business partner of missing St. Charles man John Spira accused him of racking up “massive debt” in “excess of $1 million,” and speculated that this prompted him to skip town, according to police reports recently obtained by Patch.

Spira’s partner at Universal Cable Construction, David Stubben, also theorized that Spira “might have been taking money from the business” and “would not rule out” that the missing man had something to do with a suspicious fire that gutted the company building nine months after he vanished, the reports said.

The DuPage County Sheriff’s Department surrendered about 350 pages of reports on Spira’s February 2007 disappearance following a request made under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Spira’s sister, Stephanie McNeil of Phoenix, AZ, has waged and won a six-month freedom of information fight of her own with the DuPage County cops. She has yet to receive her copies of the police reports on her brother’s disappearance, but believes they are being mailed to her.

When told of the allegations made by Stubben, McNeil lashed back, saying, “That’s something a person with some involvement would want the police to believe.”

McNeil said she has not spoken to Stubben — who was a long-time associate and friend of her brother — since soon after Spira vanished. She said Stubben was uncooperative with friends and family concerned with finding her brother.

“In my opinion, he’s got something to hide,” McNeil said of Stubben, who lives in Winfield. “That’s the actions that you take.”

Stubben, 48, was among the last people to be seen with Spira. They were reportedly together in the Universal Cable office the evening of Feb. 23, 2007.

Stubben reportedly told the police he saw Spira “talking to a vendor, Daniel Bernadec, in his office” when he left for the night about 7 p.m.

But Bernadec claimed he left before Spira and Stubben, police said. Another vendor, Anthony Distefano, reportedly said “Dave and John were the only two individuals left at the business” when he departed.

Reached by telephone, Stubben refused to discuss Spira’s disappearance or the statements attributed to him in police reports.

Those statements include some he made during an interview at the sheriff’s office 12 days after Spira was last seen.

The interview was videotaped and Stubben was read his Miranda rights before he was questioned, which apparently surprised him, police said.

During this interview, Stubben reportedly told detectives he was “originally unconcerned because John had disappeared before” and that Spira “lives a mysterious life.”

He also told detectives that Spira “sanitized his office area and threw out several boxes of ‘stuff.’ He also shredded two big bags of paperwork” shortly before disappearing, police said.

Detectives asked Stubben to submit to a polygraph, to which he reportedly replied that “he wanted to talk to an attorney before taking the test. He advised he would contact his attorney and get back with us at a later time. Since this interview, Dave has never contacted me regarding the polygraph as he previously stated nor has he called to inquire about the status of the case.”

McNeil said her brother, who was 45 when he disappeared, was not struggling with “massive debt” and had no prior history of disappearing. And she bristled when told that Stubben suggested that she — as well as her brother — might have had something to do with the fire at the Universal Cable Construction office.

“That’s laughable,” said McNeil, who is certain her missing brother was murdered. She also believes Stubben, along with her brother’s estranged wife, Suzanne Spira, knew more about what really happened than they were letting on.

Suzanne Spira died at age 60 in her home in Orchard Park, NY, in October 2010.

She and John Spira were in the midst of a bitter divorce but still sharing the same home when he disappeared.

When detectives paid Suzanne Spira a visit two weeks after John Spira was last seen, she acted somewhat suspicious, to say the least, according to police reports.

“Suzanne appeared nervous and upset and within a couple of minutes into our conversation Suzanne stated, without prompt or being asked, that she was being honest with me about not knowing where John was,” a report says. “She stated that some people lie and can’t keep their stories straight and she will tell me the same story twenty times and it will never change. Due to the infancy of the investigation I did not pursue the obviously strange out of place statement.”

Three months later, according to a report, Suzanne Spira told the police she and Stubben — who by then was not communicating with John Spira’s family — were “in touch 2 to 3 times a week since John’s disappearance. Dave has continued to provide Suzanne with John’s weekly paycheck in order for her to take care of the monthly bills.”

As with Stubben, the police asked Suzanne Spira to take a lie-detector test.

“She replied by saying she saw no reason for her to have to take it,” according to a police report.

In May 2007, police said, Suzanne Spira’s lawyer left a phone message with a detective that she would be skipping a meeting with investigators and “she was not going to allow us to enter her house.”

While the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department did surrender a few hundred pages of reports, some paperwork was omitted. Sheriff’s department Freedom of Information Officer Kent Kouba also noted there is “information regarding the case that may or may not be available due to grand jury findings,” which was the first John Spira’s family had heard of any grand jury inquiry into his case.

John Spira’s best friend, Jim Emma, also said that he was not subpoenaed and knew nothing about a grand jury being convened.

McNeil hopes that, at the very least, Stubben and the now-deceased Suzanne Spira were called to testify, although she may never know if that happened.

Even though she was not included in the grand jury, the fact that one was convened gives Spira’s family hope that the sheriff’s department believes he may have been the victim of a homicide, and not a man who dropped out of circulation of his own accord. McNeil has now called on the department to declare this publicly.

“I want them to stop calling this a missing person’s case,” she said. “Start calling it a murder and start naming the persons of interest.

“Stop blaming John for his disappearance,” she added. “He didn’t do this. He doesn’t want to be gone. He wants to be here.”

Flora Dora October 25, 2011 at 01:30 PM
This is what his "friend" and "partner" has to say.... Makes me wonder.
Walter Anderson October 25, 2011 at 01:41 PM
This seems to give credence to the statement "the devil is in the details". This appears tto be more to this, after the sister says, than is being laid on the table. I feel sure that more will be heard on this starnage case in the future.
Freddie Kissell October 25, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Very fishy. Why haven't the DuPage cops said as much? How can they continue to say Spira ran off, with all this background in their investigation?
Denise Williams October 27, 2011 at 04:30 PM
I am obviously naive about such matters, but, it seems to me that a credit check on John, and the business, would show how much debt there really was, and in the case of the business, who incurred that debt.
Walter Anderson October 27, 2011 at 06:03 PM
That would really depend on the persons or entity he may be indebted to! A business obligation can easily become personal one as well if the principal (s) of the business sign a personal guarantee of the debt.
Joseph Hosey (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 04:55 AM
Good point Walter.
Denise Williams October 28, 2011 at 11:13 PM
The point I was making was towards the investigative end of things, not how debt is assigned. It is claimed the man was over a million in debt, so is it true or not? Was the debt his, meaning did he sign the paperwork himself as either a personal contract or in his name as part of the business. If there is no debt, then one of the prime motivators for him to make himself disappear - according to statements made - is not there. Which means the probability of foul play just went up. I said I am naive on such things, meaning investigative techniques, and I also do not claim to know anymore than what has been printed. From this limited information and naive understanding, my opinion is that until now, someone has most likely gotten away with murder. Literally.
Joseph Hosey (Editor) October 29, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Hi Denise, you don't sound naive at all. And Mr. Spira's accountant reportedly told the police "he was not in any financial difficulties in either his personal or professional lives."
Walter Anderson October 29, 2011 at 01:37 PM
What about the possibility of borrowing from other than a , shall we say, "conventional source" who, if the debt goes uppaid, uses means of collection other than the court system. This type of debt, possibly incured to pay off a gambling debt, may not be known by his accountant. I am not insuating but I am "supposing" to try and explore an idea into what we don't know BUT may be!
Jehoshaphat R Thimblebottom April 27, 2013 at 05:20 AM
Spira's truck was left at the business. Meaning he was presumably killed there. Both vendors they talked to say Spira and Stubben were the last two men there the night Spira went missing (though Stubben denies that). Then the missing person billboards across the street from the business where he was presumably killed get torn down. Cause someone might have seen something that night driving by there. Then the business mysteriously burns to the ground and Stubben claims Spira probably ran off and came back to burn the business down... Yeah right. But why aren't they turning the screws on Stubben? Because Spira is a middle aged white guy. It's a shame he wasn't a 20 something blonde girl. The case would've been solved already.

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