Missing in Milwaukee: A Mother's Quest for Justice


But Kraemer disputes those findings, saying that a club manager at the Goldrush told her that Marzo was tending bar.

"They felt sorry for her and gave her a job. They knew that she wasn't, you know, in that lifestyle," said Kraemer.

Whatever she was doing there, Marzo's life in Florida did not seem to suit her, and six weeks later, she returned to Milwaukee, and eventually moved back in with Rodgers.

When Marzo disappeared a second time, Kraemer said police showed little interest in investigating, given her history of abrupt departures.

"They said, 'She's 23 years old. She has the right to go missing,'" said Kraemer. "So I hired a private investigator."

A Campaign to Find the Truth

Kraemer's efforts yielded little information. Marzo had left behind a paycheck at a Target store where she was a cashier. There was also no activity on her Social Security number, driver's license or any of her charge cards.

"It was as though she just no longer existed," said Kraemer.

Kraemer says she was convinced her daughter had been murdered and she began a campaign to find out what had happened. She began hanging posters around Rodgers' neighborhood and near his place of business at all hours of the night. She left trinkets that belonged to Marzo on Rodgers' car.

And on Marzo's birthday, every year, Rodgers would receive phone calls from a chain of 30 to 40 women, in an effort to force him to disclose what he knew about her disappearance.

"It was making his life miserable and unlivable," said Rodgers' sister Yvette. "What becomes wrong is, is when you cross the line and it becomes harassment and intimidation. You're making their lives miserable to live -- not just his life, but his parents, his friends, his children. Everybody was a victim of her."

The Rodgers family says Kraemer was harassing an innocent man whom police had not declared a suspect. But nearly a year after Marzo vanished, Kraemer's persistence with authorities got some attention when she changed her tactics.

The Suspicious Funeral Home?

"I destroyed my relationship with the police department very early on because I was so demanding. I wanted them to find my daughter. So I thought 'You know what? I'm going to humanize her.'"

Kraemer gave the detectives framed pictures of Marzo and a video she'd made of her daughter's life. The gentler gambit apparently worked. New detectives began to pursue Rodgers with renewed fervor.

It turns out Rodgers had been convicted of battering his former wife and there were suspicions of illegal gun possession. But most interesting to investigators was the fact that Rodgers' uncle ran a funeral home and a that parking ticket placed a family car Rodgers often used in an alley next to that funeral home in the very early morning of the night Marzo had vanished.

Kramer and police investigators wondered whether Rodgers had hidden Marzo's body in somebody else's coffin, a coffin soon to be buried forever. It is a notion that the Rodgers' family scoffs at.

"I think that you can make anything look suspicious if you put the right spin on it. They were never able to charge him with anything because they never found anything," said sister Yvette.

"Absolutely no evidence, any DNA, that any modern technology could pick up. Hair samples, blood samples. There's no body," said Jeffrey Stemper, Rodgers' stepfather. "So at some point, don't you have to say if there's no evidence, maybe there wasn't a crime?"

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