Unsolved mystery: What happened to Kerry O’Brien-Krueger?

Kerry O’Brien-Krueger, described as a loving mother by her family, holds daughter Megan prior to her disappearance in 1989. (Courtesy of the Vanished Podcast)

Family continues to search for answers after 30 years

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

Kerry O’Brien-Krueger’s family has spent more than 30 years looking for answers into the Burlington woman’s disappearance.

O’Brien-Krueger, 31, one of seven children, seemingly vanished without a trace Dec. 6, 1989, from her residence in the 200 block of North Perkins Boulevard and left behind a daughter she adored as well as a husband.

Since then, even after hundreds of articles and a feature on Dateline NBC, authorities have not been able to offer closure to her family.

Her family, meanwhile, continues to hope for a final resolution and requested participation from the Racine County Sheriff’s Office in a “Vanished Podcast” highlighting O’Brien-Krueger’s disappearance.

The following is an update on the case based on information provided in the podcast.

Molly O’Brien-Bleifield, Kerry’s sister, pleaded with listeners of the podcast to offer information related to the cold case.

“I love to think that she is out there somewhere happy and healthy, but in my heart, I know that is not true,” she said. “We all accepted that long ago. If there is someone who knows something, please come forward.”

Kerry O’Brien-Krueger’s disappearance created a strain in her family, with her siblings raising suspicions, while others still hold out hope she is alive.

Bizarre circumstances

O’Brien-Krueger, a former editor for the Burlington Standard Press, worked in the public relations department at Gander Mountain in Wilmot when she vanished.

Kerry O’Brien-Krueger, of Burlington, has been missing for more than 30 years and her family continues to seek closure. (Courtesy of the Vanished podcast)

On Dec. 5, according to her husband, Tracey Krueger, Kerry received a last-minute request from Gander Mountain about attending a trade show and would be boarding a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with a co-worker the following day.

“Kerry’s husband, Tracey, told investigators that he remembers her kissing him goodbye at 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 6 and that she asked him to take care of their 3-year-old daughter, Megan, while she was gone,” podcast host Marissa Jones said.

“A neighbor reported that they saw a black car parked outside of the home around that time.”

However, O’Brien-Krueger never took the flight, according to her supervisor, who called Tracey on Dec. 6 asking where she was.

Racine County Sheriff’s investigator Heather Spranger said the phone call came as a surprise since O’Brien-Krueger had a punctual work record.

“Kerry had never done a no-call, no-show,” Spranger said in the podcast. “Doing so would be out of character.”

Molly questioned the disappearance because of Kerry’s love for her daughter and unfinished business at her Burlington home.

The O’Brien family, according to Molly, always had a Christmas tradition of getting together and there were decorations still left in the kitchen.

Molly, 12 years younger than Kerry, remembers her sister as a dedicated family member.

“She was a very happy mother, she absolutely loved her daughter, she was also a mother figure to me,” said Molly, who was 19 years old when her sister went missing. “She made Megan the center of her world.”

“This looks nothing like she was planning to leave and starting a life of her own. Her kitchen was absolutely covered with (Christmas) decorations and things to be set up.”

Adding to the suspicion was O’Brien-Krueger’s stomach pains leading up to her disappearance.

Her brother, Pat O’Brien, a physician, said he and some family members believe Kerry was being poisoned.

“For a period of time prior to her disappearance, she was having gastrointestinal problems,” Pat O’Brien said. “Some members of my family were postulating, perhaps, she was poisoned.”

Doctors were never able to pinpoint a diagnosis.

Pat O’Brien, meanwhile, believes Tracey Krueger was responsible for Kerry’s stomach pains and disappearance.

“That was the only logical conclusion I could come to. My sister would not leave Megan,” the said.

“Everybody believes that he did it and it is certainly not her fault.”

Daughter speaks

Megan Krueger admits she does not recall much about her mother’s disappearance because she was only three years old.

However, unlike her aunt and uncle, she does not believe her father had any involvement, noting her mother’s diary entries.

“We think she left. We really, truly believe that she left. From reading her diaries and I do understand that the amount I have are from a very young age of her, from middle school through high school…she seemed depressed.”

Additionally, Megan’s father has grieved for many years since Kerry’s disappearance, stating he has always loved her.

“He loves her very much, even to this day,” she said. “He has been really heartbroken.”

To read the entire story, see the April 23 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.


How you can help

      People with information regarding the disappearance of Kerry O’Brien-Krueger can contact Sheriff’s Investigator Heather Spranger at 262-636-3367 or by email at [email protected]. Callers may remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers of Racine County at 888-636-9330.

      For the podcast, visit thevanishedpodcast.com.

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