Murder in the Heartland is examining the murder of Elizabeth “Liz” Syperda by her estranged husband, Michael “Mike” Syperda, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in 2000.
Syperda was convicted of killing his wife despite no remains or murder weapon ever being retrieved. The killer was known to have been highly abusive towards Liz for many years.
On July 16, 2000, Liz Syperda vanished without a trace. She had been staying at an apartment in Mount Pleasant, IA, where she hoped to avoid the attention of her abusive husband, Mike Syperda. Suspiciously, she had left all her belongings behind.
Mike had first met Liz when she was just 13 years old. They were neighbors in Truckee, California, and the teenager was a babysitter for Mike and his wife’s children. Liz’s mother, Donna Forshee, would later claim he had “groomed” her daughter.
Despite protestations from her family, Liz went to live with Mike and his family in Winfield, Iowa, when she was just 17-years-old. Mike eventually divorced his wife and married Liz. However, he was extremely abusive and controlling towards his young wife.
When Liz disappeared without a trace in 2000, the cops were suspicious of Mike; however, there was not enough evidence, and the case went cold.
The evidence against Mike Syperda in Liz Syperda killing mounted up
The cops started looking at the case again in 2010, and their suspicion of Mike was heightened when they discovered a ring belonging to Liz in his home. The ring had been given to Liz by her mother and was considered a prized possession and one she rarely removed from her finger.
The cops had also learned from phone records that Mike had suddenly stopped phoning Liz around the time she disappeared. He had been regularly calling the apartment where she stayed up until the point she disappeared.
Mike Syperda was charged with first-degree murder in November 2017. He waived his right to a trial by jury and was subsequently ruled guilty by District Judge Mark Kruse. He was sentenced to life in prison.
However, in September 2020, Syperda successfully appealed against that decision and had his conviction downgraded to second-degree murder. Judge Mary Tabor ruled that because Liz’s remains had not been recovered, the state was unable to prove that Syperda had intended to kill his wife.
Mike Syperda had his sentence commuted but is still expected to remain in prison until about 2060.
More from Murder in the Heartland
Follow the links to read about more murders committed in America’s heartland.
Todd Greathouse strangled his tenant Anita Dunn to death in the home she was renting in Joplin, Missouri. Greathouse tried to claim they were having an affair and that she threatened him, but the police saw through his lies.
Randy Bode got chatting to Nicole Berte in a bar in Kossuth County, Iowa. Unfortunately, when Berte kindly offered Bode a ride home, he repaid that kindness by raping and killing her.
Murder in the Heartland airs Mondays at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.