Name: Stephanie Hunsberger
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: February 25, 1978
Location Last Seen: Northwales, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Date of Birth: March 2, 1954
Age: 24 years old
Weight: 100-140 lbs.
Hair Color: Red/Auburn
Eye Color: Unknown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Unknown
Dentals: Not Available
Additional Personal Items: Unknown
Edward Hunsberger and Stephanie Smith, the elder daughter of former Upper Merion High School principal Dr. Jay C. Smith, met in early 1977 when he noticed her crying on a street corner in downtown Philadelphia. Within a few months, they had married.
Both long-term heroin addicts, Eddie picked up the habit in 1969 while with the Navy in San Francisco and Stephanie had fallen in with a bad crowd by her sophomore year of high school. At the time they met one another, neither held regular jobs, and Stephanie sometimes resorted to working as a prostitute in Philadelphia.
In September 1977, in an attempt to get clean, Eddie and Stephanie moved into her father’s home in King of Prussia, PA. The last verified siting of Eddie and Stephanie Hunsberger was February 25, 1978. The couple visited the home of Eddie’s parents for help filling out their tax returns. As they were leaving, Eddie told his mother, "We'll be back a little later."
As part of the terms of Eddie’s probation from an armed robbery conviction in 1975, Eddie was required to seek treatment for his drug dependence. Both Eddie and Stephanie had a scheduled appointment at a local methadone clinic in February 1978, but they failed to show. After subsequent missed appointments, the clinic assumed the couple had relapsed. Eddie also failed to keep up regular contacts with his probation officer (a warrant for his arrest was issued on September 6, 1978).
Following several weeks without hearing from the couple, Eddie’s mother contacted Dr. Smith who told her that the couple had fled to California for safety because of the amount of money they owed drug dealers.
On August 19, 1978, police arrested a hooded Dr. Jay Smith in the parking lot of a local mall with four loaded guns and a syringe filled with knockout drugs. A search of his home turned up a library of BDSM and bestiality pornography, three pounds of marijuana, and security guard uniforms that would eventually be connected to unsolved armed robberies from the past year. He said the drugs belonged to the Hunsbergers’ and went to jail denying any role in the robbery.
Investigators made attempts to locate the missing couple as part of the investigation into Smith’s involvement with the local robberies and later when he was tried as an accessory to the murder of Susan Reinert and her children, but no leads ever led to even a substantiated sighting. Jay Smith told his defense team he last saw Eddie and Stephanie together the afternoon of August 19, 1978, the day of his arrest, and that he later saw Stephanie in the spring of 1979.
As to why she had not shown up despite his troubles, Smith said that the relationship between the two of them was troubled and Stephanie had no desire to become involved in his legal difficulties. Further unsubstantiated sightings were made of Stephanie, but not Eddie, in the next year. A King of Prussia neighbor told investigators she had briefly seen Stephanie sometime in 1979. In an unrelated case, an unnamed confidential informant told investigators that he had met with Stephanie in mid-August 1979 and that the Hunsbergers were alive and well in the Philadelphia area. Smith's younger daughter, Sherwyn, told police that she had seen Stephanie several months after her father was sent to jail on June 25, 1979.
Agency Name: Pensylvania State Police
Agency Contact Person: Trooper Andrew Martin
Agency Phone Number: 215-452-5251
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: k03-1008827
Agency Name: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office
Agency Contact Person: N/A
Agency Phone Number: N/A
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: N/A
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 34827
Lehigh Valley Live
Added: 11/26/2016; Last Updated: 11/26/2016
Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team
** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.