Marty Reker was 10 when two of his sisters left their St. Cloud, Minnesota, home on Labor Day 1974 to go back-to-school shopping.
Mary and Susanne Reker were missing for 26 days before their bodies were found in a quarry west of St. Cloud. Susanne, 12, was on top of the quarry and Mary, 15, was submerged in 40 feet of water. Both had been stabbed multiple times.
Tuesday marks 40 years since the girls disappeared, 40 years of frustration, questions and no definitive answers.
“You maybe become more prepared for bad things in life. It prepares you, I suppose, for anything that happens after that,” Marty said of the deaths of two of his sisters. “Because it seems like no matter what happens in your life after that, it’s not as bad as that.”
There remains a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the killings.
“The lengthy passage of time makes resolution difficult, but not impossible,” said Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner. “We will never give up in our pursuit to bring the killer to justice.”
Missing, then found
The girls left their house in the St. John Cantius neighborhood just before noon Sept. 2, 1974, heading to a nearby Zayre discount store to buy school supplies.
When the girls didn’t come home by evening, Rita and Fred Reker told police their daughters were missing. The girls were found Sept. 28, 1974, in the quarry.
Susan had been stabbed 13 times. Her body, fully clothed, was found under a bush. Mary had been stabbed six times, her unclothed body found on a ledge underwater.
“We definitely went through all those emotions of just fear, first of all because we didn’t know who it was,” Rita Reker said. “And then anger that so little seemed to be done at the time, and it seemed like nobody knew what to do.”
The case was presented nine years ago to the Vidocq Society, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia whose members are experts in various fields of criminal investigation. The organization hears presentations from agencies investigating cold cases and provides confidential opinions.
After reviewing a presentation by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Vidocq Society “supported and confirmed that the person(s) of interest identified by local investigators … were in fact the trail to follow,” Sanner said.
Sanner and the Rekers won’t say who the suspect or suspects are. The fact that Vidocq supported what local investigators are thinking has given Marty Reker an answer, even if there never is a conviction.
He doesn’t spend much time thinking about who did it, he said.
“The Vidocq Society pointed out who did it, and so in my mind that’s the guy that did it,” Marty Reker said. “So I already know who did it, I feel. It’s just the question of can they ever prove it?”
He said that his father, Fred, shared his belief that the Vidocq’s suspect was the killer. Fred died on Dec. 31, 2012.
“I honestly have hope in my lifetime that I will see it solved,” Rita Reker said. “I’m not sure why, but I do.”