TV show to profile Cora Jones
By Greg Seubert
WEYAUWEGA – Cora Jones may have disappeared 24 years ago, but her memory is alive and well.
“On the Case with Paula Zahn” will feature the 1994 Waupaca County kidnapping and murder case at 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel.
Cora, 12, disappeared Sept. 5, 1994, while riding her bicycle near her grandmother’s town of Dayton home south of Waupaca. Her body was found five days later northwest of Antigo. David Spanbauer eventually pleaded guilty to Cora’s kidnapping and murder, as well as two other murders and several other crimes, in December 1994.
Producers from the show first contacted Cora’s parents, Rick and Vicki Jones of rural Weyauwega, last September and asked if they’d be interested in being interviewed about the case.
“I talked to her for about an hour and she asked if we’d ever consider coming out there,” Vicki said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ I asked why and they said, ‘Well, we get these old stories coming through.’ They sent Rick and I and three investigators out to New York City in February.”
Those investigators, who worked on the case in 1994, included Allen Kraeger with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department. Ben Baker and Dan Woodkey were also interviewed. Baker was with the Langlade County Sheriff’s Department and Woodkey with the Appleton Police Department.
A crew from the show later filmed scenes at Cora’s grave in Fremont and the Jones’ town of Lind home.
Zahn interviewed Vicki, Rick and the investigators Feb. 12.
“For me, (she asked) about Cora’s life and how it affected our family,” Vicki said. “It was more about Cora’s life and what she was like as a 12-year-old girl. I went out there knowing that if they were just going to talk about Cora, I had no problem with it. It’s hard to talk about it, but I knew I could do it.
“She was so easy to talk to,” she said. “She sent us a picture and signed her name on it. They wouldn’t let me wear my glasses (in the interview) and I have a really hard time seeing, so that was really tough for me for an hour. I don’t think it looks like me without my glasses.”
The show will also feature several family photos of Cora through the years.
“We took a stack of pictures and they scanned them all,” Vicki said. “I was surprised how many pictures they wanted from the time she was a baby until she was kidnapped. They wanted pictures of every age.”
More than 200 episodes of “On the Case with Paula Zahn” have aired since the show premiered in 2009.
“We watch it,” Vicki said. “It’s on every Sunday night at 9. We watched another one where it was a case of another 12-year-old girl that was kidnapped, but she was found alive.”
Cora’s family won’t see the episode until it airs, Vicki said.
“They won’t show it to us,” she said. “After it airs, they’ll give us all a copy. I know it would be nice to see it, but they won’t let us.”
Hundreds of people showed up to search for Cora after her disappearance.
“Unless it was going to go to trial, there were things that we really didn’t want to know,” Vicki said. “It was so heartbreaking for us and it was so fortunate for us that he pleaded guilty and we didn’t have to go to a trial. There are probably things that the investigators told Paula that we don’t even know.”
“I think there’s going to be a lot stuff that comes out (in the show) that people didn’t know,” said Rick, who retired in January 2015 after 40 years at the Waupaca Foundry.
Vicki also retired after 24 years at the Weyauwega Health Care Center.
“I think it’s wonderful that they can still do something about her,” she said. “It’s good to remind people of what could happen.”
Greg Seubert is the sports editor of the Waupaca County Post, a Multi-Media Channels publication.