“His story was very detailed — disturbingly so,” WISN news director Chris Gegg told the Associated Press.
On Saturday, a week after his phone call, Ferreira was officially charged with killing Jopek. His arrest has brought closure to Jopek’s mother, who long blamed herself for her daughter’s death. He has not yet filed a plea and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment from the Associated Press.
“It’s been 33 years since she’s been gone,” Carolyn Tousignant said, according to the AP. “I’ve been praying for this day.”
Although bizarre, the telephoned confession was a fitting end to a vexing crime that also began with a call.
On March 16, 1982, Tousignant received a call from Kosciuszko Middle School to say that Jopek had been suspended from school. The principal asked if Tousignant wanted to come get her daughter, but Tousignant decided to let the 13-year-old walk the one block home from school.
“I figured she’ll be home, Tousignant told WISN, “but she never showed up.”
For 17 months, there wasn’t a sign of Jopek. Her mother “waited and waited” for her daughter, but the investigation into the disappearance went nowhere, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Then, in August of 1983, a contractor was working on the back porch of a neighboring house when he struck something hard: human bone.
“She spent two of her birthdays underneath that porch,” Tousignant told the AP.
“I didn’t want to know [she was dead], yet somehow I knew it would be best if the whole thing would just end,” she told the Journal Sentinel at the time.
Although the mystery of Carrie Ann’s location was sadly solved, the mystery over her murder was just beginning. It would take more than three decades for it to unravel.
Jopek was found wearing the same clothes in which she had disappeared, leading Tousignant to think that she had died the very day she went missing. But by the time her body was unearthed, it was difficult for investigators to determine how she died, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Ferreira, who was 17 at the time and lived nearby, was apparently questioned about his neighbor’s disappearance but never arrested. Even when Jopek’s body was found, there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.
But Tousignant had her suspicions.
According to Tousignant, Junior, as Ferreira was known, once told her that he and some friends were with Jopek when she hit her head and died, but he refused to tell police, according to this week’s WISN report. It’s unclear whether she went to police at that time to report that crucial conversation.
In that same conversations, she said Ferreira had told her: “They were drinking, they were all drinking Yukon Jack and smoking weed,” Tousignant told the TV station. ”They got scared, so they grabbed a dry cleaning bag, wrapped her up in that and dug a hole under the porch and buried her.”
If Ferreira somehow managed to escape investigators, he ultimately couldn’t hide from his own conscience, it seems.
On the morning of Oct. 11, he called the WISN news room and confessed to killing Jopek. The phone call raised “several red flags” and the news station contacted police before going public with the confession, according to the AP.
Ferreira told the station that he had “lived across the street from Carrie Ann and went to a party with her the night she died,” the TV station reported the next day. “He said she fell and broke her neck. He said he had sex with her because he thought she was unconscious. When he realized she was dead, he buried her.”
“Oh, my God,” Tousignant told WISN when she heard of Ferreira’s confession. “He always said that she was haunting him.”
Ferreira appeared in court on Saturday on a charge of second-degree murder. According to WISN, he told police that he and Jopek were hanging out at the house party when they went into the basement to make out. When Jopek had second thoughts, however, Ferreira pushed her down a flight of stairs, breaking her neck.
Her last words were “I don’t know if this is a good idea,” according to court documents obtained by the TV station.
Ferreira then allegedly had sex with her body before burying her under the porch.
Although painful, the new details of the decades-old death are a relief for Jopek’s family. For years, Tousignant felt her daughter’s disappearance was her fault for not picking her up at school that day in March of 1982. Now she says she can sleep easier knowing what really happened to Carrie Ann.
“She would’ve snuck over there anyway,” she told the AP, referring to the house party.
While welcome, the sudden break in the 33-year-old mystery is also raising some questions about the Milwaukee Police Department, which failed to crack the cold case until Ferreira’s fortunate media confession. Strangely, this is not the city’s first old case to be solved in the past few years thanks to an apparently guilt-ridden confession coming out of the blue.
In 2013, a 16-year-old murder mystery came to a shocking end when a man already in prison for an unrelated case confessed to accidentally shooting a woman in the back of her head during a robbery.
Randy Q. Baines admitted to killing Leila Dempsey as she held her 2-year-old son in her arms.
“He told investigators Dempsey’s death had been bothering him,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Why, exactly, Ferreira cracked still remains unclear, however.
For Jopek’s family, the reason may not matter. What does is that he’s finally behind bars.
“Now he’s gonna pay for what he did to her,” her mother said.