Jose Ferreira was 16 when 13-year-old Carrie Ann Jopek went missing from a Milwaukee house party they both attended in 1982; her body was found 17 months later buried beneath the home’s porch. Though he was considered a suspect at the time, he denied any knowledge of her death. Until now.
Incredibly, Ferreira—now 50 years old—kept his darkest secret hidden for 33 years, until earlier this month. On October 11, the New York Times reports, Ferreira’s wife alerted Milwaukee police that her husband had admitted the crime to her. That same day, a local television station and a crisis counselor also contacted police with the same story: Ferreira had finally cracked.
He was arrested and charged with second-degree reckless murder on October 17, and Carrie Ann Jopek’s family finally knows what happened to the teen at that 1982 party. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
[Ferreira] told a detective that he, Jopek and several other teens had skipped school and were at house party [on] the same block on which they both lived. There was alcohol and marijuana. He said he offered Jopek a hit of marijuana, which she tried, but she coughed.
They agreed to go to the basement where he expected they would “make out,” he said, but then Jopek expressed reservations. That’s when, Ferriera said, he pushed Jopek and she tumbled down the steps. When he found her unconscious at the bottom, he groped her breasts. When he tried to pick her up, he said, he realized her neck was broken.
That’s when, according to the complaint, he hauled her through the basement to an exterior cellar door, and access to the space under the rear porch. He spent about 45 minutes digging a hole, then buried Jopek.
Ferreira told a detective he was watching when the carpenter found the remains months later, and he saw the teen who hosted the party, who was standing in the backyard, vomit.
A few days later, after the news of the grisly discovery died down, Ferreira knelt crying at the site, apologizing to Jopek, until he noticed another neighbor watching and left. Hours later, police arrived to question him, and he said he followed his brother’s advice to deny any knowledge of Jopek’s fate.
The victim’s relieved mother, Carolyn Tousignant, told the Times that despite all the suspicion that had been directed his way over the years, she never thought Ferreira was capable of committing murder. Except, as she recalled, his conscience was oddly troubled:
“After they found Carrie’s body, he told me she was haunting him,” she said.
Tousignant elaborated on that to WISN, the Milwaukee news station that received Ferreira’s long-awaited confession.
“Carrie was haunting him. She kept on until it worked. She was persistent, a very persistent child she was,” Carrie’s mother said.
Top image: Grave of Carrie Ann Jopek in Arlington Park Cemetery in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)