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Timeline: Five years after John Spira’s mysterious disappearance, relatives still search for answers

John Spira was 45 when he disappeared from his office in West Chicago. (Photo courtesy Stephanie Spira McNeil.)

John Spira was 45 when he disappeared from his office in West Chicago. (Photo courtesy Stephanie Spira McNeil.)

It’s been five years since her brother disappeared, but Stephanie Spira McNeil is still searching for the answers that police have been unable to uncover.

“I’m still here, I’m still looking, and I’m not going to stop,” McNeil said in a recent phone interview from her home in Phoenix.

John Spira’s mother, Maggie Spira, feels the same way.

“It is such a loss, you just can’t imagine it can be this way, and we need to find him,” Maggie Spira said. “We need to know what happened.”

John Spira, 45, of St. Charles, disappeared on Feb. 23, 2007. A musician who played under the stage nickname “Chicago Johnny,” Spira also owned a West Chicago business, Universal Cable Construction, Inc.

In September of 2007, that business was a destroyed in a fire that investigators at the time called suspicious. DuPage County Fire Investigation Task Force Commander John Barnacle said the case remains open, but declined further comment.

The DuPage County Sheriff’s office has released little information about the disappearance since Spira was declared missing five years ago. Repeated attempts to reach the sheriff’s office for an update on the case were unsuccessful.

McNeil plans to return to Winnetka, her hometown, on Saturday, Feb. 25, for a quiet ceremony with relatives and friends to mark the fifth anniversary of her brother’s disappearance. They’ll gather in a field behind New Trier High School’s West campus – Spira is a 1979 graduate — to release balloons.

Events marking the anniversary of her son’s disappearance have great meaning for Maggie Spira, who lauds her daughter’s efforts to find him.

“I think Stephanie has been formidable in keeping this in the public eye, and I think John’s story would have been forgotten a long time ago without these events,” she said.

McNeil no longer has hope that her brother will be found alive. She said the rally more about solidarity than searching, and although police will not say if foul play was ever suspected, McNeil has no doubt.

“We want lots of people to come to show those that are responsible that they can’t get away with it,” she said.

“He would never have caused us this much grief and pain,” she added. “He was so passionate about life, there’s no way he would want to be anywhere but here.”

The balloon release will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. in the fields behind New Trier High School’s West campus. Afterward, the group will go to Stormy’s Tavern and Grille in Northfield. All are welcome.

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