The mother and boyfriend of missing woman Laurie Depies struggled with the news that a convicted kidnapper's confession cracked the 19-year-old cold case of the 20-year-old woman's disappearance.
Larry DeWayne Hall confessed to Menasha, Wisc. police that he kidnapped and killed Depies in August 1992. Hall is currently serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for the kidnapping of an Illinois girl who disappeared a year after Depies. He was never charged with murder because the girl's remains were never found. Hall made the confession in the Depies case in November, but police didn't reveal it until a press conference Monday.
"The big part of what I'm feeling is a sense of relief in a bad way...I'm glad that it's finally over with, but it's not anything to be happy with...there's just been so much time and so many years of just wanting to finally know what happened to her," said Marc Truebenbach.
Truebenbach was Depies' boyfriend. He reported her missing when he found her car in his apartment building's parking lot.
"I had seen her earlier in the day and she had gone that day and bought a present for me that she was all excited to give to me. We heard her car pull up and after a couple of minutes, we were like, where is she. It went from one minute thinking maybe she's goofing around to ok, something is not right," he said.
Hall claims that he saw Depies when she was working at Fox River Mall and followed her to her boyfriend's apartment where he kidnapped and later killed her. Depies was in town for a civil war reenactment, police said. Police have not charged him with murder, but are following up on clues he's given about the location of her remains.
"I personally feel that this is probably hopefully putting us in the right direction now of a major break in this case," said Menasha Police Chief Rod McCants at a press conference Monday.
Police have no physical evidence linking Hall to the crime, but they say that he knows things about the case that only the police and killer would know. Hall first became a suspect in the woman's disappearance in 1995. Police found evidence in a notebook in his car that named the mall where Depies worked and her first name.
Hall, 48, has been linked to other cold cases of missing women in the Midwest. He reportedly agreed to talk to Wisconsin authorities because he wouldn't be facing the death penalty in Wisconsin if charged and found guilty. He also wants to be moved to a different prison with better mental health services, police said.
Depies' boyfriend supports the death penalty, but said any conviction would be justice.
"If he lives to be extremely old man and has to suffer in prison his whole life, I have no problem with that," Truebenbach said.
In the first few years Depies was missing, the now 41-year-old man was obsessed with finding out what happened to her.
"I was consumed with having to know what happened to her and here we are 19 years later and to get a phone call out of the blue that he had finally admitted it, it's kind of mind numbing," he said.
"You still never forget that person…we talked a little bit about marriage. I often wonder if this had never happened, would we be married, would we still be together," Truebenbach said.
Depies' mother, Mary Wegner, said she had always braced herself for the possibility that her daughter's abductor might be somebody she knows.
"It was kind of hard to take because you never think...they always told us that usually something like this happens by someone the person knows, so to have Larry Hall out of the clear blue sky be accused of this and admitting to it," said Wegner. "It's hurt and sadness and knowing what she might have suffered."
The 20-year-old blonde haired woman was lighthearted and never grumpy, her family said.
"The unfortunate thing is I only have the memories of her first 20 years," Wegner said. "I don't know that you can ever really have closure...there's still some loose ends that I feel need to be followed up, including finding the remains of my daughter."
Police won't comment on where in particular they're searching for Depies' body.
ABC Affiliate WISN contributed to this report.