Tammy is about to start her senior year at Grinnell in Iowa.
Tammy was a double major in art history and Spanish. She had just returned from studying abroad in Madrid.
Early Morning: Tammy and her younger brother Daren leave their parent's home in New Jersey to go back to their respective colleges.
Tammy and Daren were in her 1985 white pontiac. Daren attended Northwestern, so she would drop him off on the way. She also had a friend at Northwestern, and she planned to stay the night with her. Tammy didn't need to be back at college until September 8th, but wanted to photograph the student athletes who were already practicing.
Sibling of Victim
Tammy and Daren stop in Pittsburgh to see their parents.
Their parents were in Pittsburgh visiting family. Tammy and Daren stayed overnight.
Even though they had some car trouble, Tammy and Daren make it to Evanston, Illinois.
Daren mentioned they had to stop the car a couple of times because the engine was stalling. Once they added oil and water, it was reportedly running fine. Tammy dropped Daren off, and stayed the night with her friend.
Afternoon: Tammy continues on her trip to Grinnell
She left her friend's house around lunchtime. Daren had checked her car before she left, and told her if the check engine light came on, to try and stop at a rest stop.
Between 3-4pm: Witnesses report seeing Tammy pulled over on the shoulder of I-80.
Her car was pulled over on the side of I-80 near mile marker 83, the exit for Utica. She was looking under the hood of her car.
I-80 west shoulder where Tammy's car broke down
Between 3-4pm: According to a tip, a tractor trailer is reportedly seen on the side of the road with Tammy.
Although police learned over 26 cars stopped, this tractor trailer stood out because of the information they learned about the driver. The trailer had two brownish orange diagonal stripes on the cab and the trailer. The driver is described as approximately 6 feet tall with dark, bushy hair and estimated to be between 30-45 years old.
Person of Interest/Suspect
Evening: Tammy's parents, Joann and Hank are concerned when she doesn't call to let them know she had arrived.
They expected to hear from their daughter on Sunday evening. When they didn't, they assumed it was because she got caught up seeing her friends.
Parent of Victim
1:00am: A truck driver named Robert Bullington said he saw Tammy get into the cab of a fellow trucker he met earlier that day.
Robert had met Jerry earlier in the day at a truck stop. They continued to communicate via CB, and both saw Tammy on the side of the road. Jerry stopped, and let Robert know she was ok. Robert left on his way, but remembered the interaction when he saw the missing posters. He knew Jerry had Nebraska plates, but nothing else about him. This interaction also took place much later than many of the other witnesses place Tammy on the shoulder.
Person With Information
Morning: After still not hearing from her, Tammy's parents call her friends and the school.
Her friends had not seen her, and the school confirmed she had not arrived. Her family had no idea where she was, so they made calls to the Illinois and Iowa State police. Police were initially dismissive, saying she had probably run off with a boyfriend (Tammy didn't have a boyfriend).
Afternoon: The Iowa State Police call Joann and Hank to let them know they had towed Tammy's car off of I-80.
The car had been adandoned on the side of the road. When they found out that Tammy was not with the car, her parents filed a police report.
Joann and Hank fly to Chicago to be closer to the investigation.
Tammy's parents immediately found the police unhelpful. They told them there was no evidence of foul play, and that Tammy would likely be back. Joann and Hank connected with a missing persons group who recommended they get word about Tammy to the media.
Students at Northwestern University and Grinnell college passed out flyers, put up posters, and volutneered to search for Tammy.
The students rallied to help the family and get the word out about Tammy's disappearance.
After 3 days missing, the police finally consider there may be foul play involved, and start searching for Tammy.
Her car had been at the police station, and had been touched, so they didn't swab for fingerprints. There was no sign of a struggle in the car. He luggage was there, but her purse and camera were missing. The police bring in canine units, and search the area by helicopter.
Police announce they are following up on leads of witnesses who saw Tammy on the side of the road.
More than 60 people saw Tammy on the on the side of I-80 on Sunday, August 23rd. More than 26 different cars had pulled over to help Tammy that day.
Morning: A man pulls off the side of the road and finds a body wrapped in a blanket.
The man had pulled off to cover tools in his truck when he saw something wrapped in a blanket. From the shape, he knew it was a body. He went straight to the police station and came back with an officer.
Location of Tammy's body - I-44 West
Morning: The police return with the man to the body.
The body was wrapped in a red blanket made by the Kenworth Truck co. The victim was a white female, aged 18-24. She wore a blue t-shirt with an Eagles Eastside soccer logo, which was the name of Tammy's high school. The victim had been stabbed 7 times around her heart, and was sexually assaulted. The pathologist indicated she had been dead between 4-7 days.
Dental records confirm that the body is Tammy's.
Her family was not convinced because she was wearing different clothes then when she was last seen, lacy underwear and a pink bra with the word LOVE embroidered on the cup. This did not match with Tammy's tomboy style.
Once her identity was confirmed, Police shared more details with the family.
Due to the lack of blood on the blanket, they assumed she was killed elsewhere and dumped. Her killer has also tried to strangle her with a necklace type object before stabbing her. Also her watch, camera, purse, wallet, and original clothes were never recovered.
Tammy's family conduct a private funeral to remember her.
With no strong leads, an anonymous source donates $100,000 towards a reward for information.
After this, women Illinois and Wisconsin came forward with tips about a man pretending to be a police man trying to pull them over, but they couldn't tie anything to Tammy's murder.
Based on a tip from a witness, Lonnie Beirdropt considered a person of interest.
A nurse from Springfield, Missouri who had seen Tammy on I-80 that day recognized Lonnie when he came into her clinic. He was a long-haul trucker who lived in Missouri. He lived close to where Tammy's body was found, and had grown-up near where Tammy was last seen. He has also sold his car right after Tammy went missing, and at the time of her disappearance, worked for Kenworth Truck Co, the same company the blanket Tammy was wrapped in was from. Police could not tie him to the murder even after he submitted his DNA and they located his old vehicle.
The police announce they are disbanding the Tammy Zywicki task force.
They cited lack of progress and reduced the number of officers on her case from 14 to 2.
Martin McCarthy, a former investigator on Tammy's case, retires, and reaches out to Joann to help her solve it.
He believed that the police and the FBI weren't doing their job, and felt like he didn't have to fear retribution once he retired.
Lonnie Beirdropt passes away.
Martin McCarthy suggested in a 2002 article that they were unable to accurately test Lonnie's DNA against the DNA at the crime scene because there was so little. They never ruled him out as a suspect, but couldn't confirm him.
Long-haul trucker Bruce Mendenhall is arrested for the murder of Sarah Hulbert, and could be tied to potentially 11 more. Police thought he could be connected to Tammy.
Bruce Mendenhall was a trucker from Illinois, so he could fit her murder's profile. Although he mostly preyed on sex workers or drug addicts, they couldn't rule him out. He is currently in prison.
Hank Zywicki passes away
Although Hank passed away without Justice for his daughter, Joann is still hopeful the case will one day be solved.