iHeartPodcast’s “Hell and Gone” is back with a 4th season, and this time, host Catherine Townsend is diving into the murder of Ebby Steppach. On October 13, 2005, Ebby’s car was found in a small residential park, out of gas with the keys in the ignition. And Ebby seemingly vanished without a trace. In this new season of “Hell and Gone,” Catherine heads to Little Rock, Arkansas to investigate what really happened in what ended up being Ebby’s murder.
“Hell and Gone” has been releasing episodes since 2018. Catherine and her team first investigated the murder of 22-year-old Rebekah Gould in the Arkansas Ozarks, releasing the first season of this podcast in 2018. Each of this show’s three seasons are just eight episodes long, with episodes lasting only 40 minutes. They also release bonus episodes of earlier seasons with updates on the cases they investigated.
For months, Catherine had been in contact with Ebby’s mother, Laurie, who has walked her through the case and told her what they still don’t know. She also told her all about Ebby — her hopes, her dreams of attending cosmetology school, her love for makeup, her fierce loyalty and comedic charm. Catherine speaks with more of Ebby’s family and her closest friends about the young woman, gathering information on her past and what happened to her just a few nights before her murder.
As Catherine tells us, there is a black hole of information about what happened the night of October 24, 2015. Different news outlets have reported different things, mainly reporting that on that Friday night, Ebby had gone to a party where she was gang raped by several men. But that’s not the truth. Based on texts Ebby had sent to a friend after that night, Ebby went out that night with a male friend from her high school to another friends house in Little Rock.
We may never know what really happened that night. Piecing together her texts, it seems that what happened to Ebby started out as a consensual sexual encounter with just one of the men at the house. Then at one point, she thought that the man was videotaping her without permission.
She returned to her brother’s house later that night. The next day (the day of her disappearance), she had been acting strange and did not pick up her family’s phone calls. Ebby’s family members tried to report her missing to the Little Rock Police Department, but they said she hadn’t been missing long enough to do anything. According to Laurie, they did say they would put out an all-points bulletin on Ebby’s car, but after that, they did nothing more.
On October 27, Ebby’s car was found. Despite police apparently putting out a bulletin for it, they called Ebby’s father, Peter, that they had found his car in Chalamont Park. Peter informed them that they had in fact found his daughter’s car – his daughter who had been missing now for two days.
In the car were all of Ebby’s personal belongings — some articles of clothing, her purse, her contact lenses, and her phone. Her makeup, which she kept in pristine condition, was broken and scattered throughout the car — more than enough proof to Laurie that Ebby did not simply walk away from this car of her own volition.
Throughout the rest of this season of “Hell and Gone,” Catherine speaks with private investigators, police detectives, and others involved in the search for Ebby. For two and a half years, Ebby’s whereabouts were unknown.
In May of 2018, her skeletal remains were found in a drainage pipe in the same park that her car was found. Her death was classified as a homicide, and to this day, no one has been charged with her murder.
But Laurie, and now Catherine, still have hope that someone will be charged with Ebby’s death. On “Hell and Gone,” Catherine hopes to shed more light on this case and get the Steppach family that much closer to closure on their daughter’s murder.