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Man Arrested After Missing Girl’s Mother Forced Grand Jury Probe

June 21, 1990

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) _ A man has been charged with kidnapping in the 1987 disappearance of a 9- year-old girl whose mother forced a grand jury investigation.

David C. Phelps, 26, a longtime suspect in the case, was arrested in Perry, Iowa, on Wednesday night, special prosecutor James D. Smith said today. Phelps, a former Norfolk resident, was indicted Tuesday.

″As far as I’m concerned the grand jury was somewhat conservative but I understand why,″ said Joyce Cutshall, mother of the missing Jill Cutshall. ″But it means there will be a trial and everything that happened to Jill should and will, I feel, be told in the end of it.″

Jill disappeared Aug. 13, 1987, from this northeast Nebraska prairie city about 110 miles northwest of Omaha. She had been waiting alone on the steps of her baby sitter’s home in this city.

Her clothes were found in a wildlife area three months later.

The case attracted national attention, including a CBS ″60 Minutes″ report. Thousands of fliers with Jill’s picture have been distributed throughout North America.

Frustrated by what she considered lax police work, Ms. Cutshall began a petition drive and forced a grand jury investigation.

Under state law, a court is required to convene a grand jury if presented with petitions from at least 10 percent of the county’s voters who took part in the last governor’s election.

A Madison County grand jury began work April 30 and returned the indictment Tuesday. Phelps’ return to Norfolk hinges on an extradition hearing expected next week in Iowa, Smith said.

In a telephone interview today, Ms. Cutshall said the indictment and arrest mean success to her.

She said she is ″99 percent sure″ that her daughter is dead, but she hoped the indictment and a trial would lead to further investigation into her daughter’s whereabouts.

″It’s a daily thought for me. I know Jill is very, very near to me - within a 20-mile radius of me - and knowing that there are people who know where she is at and I don’t is becoming very, very frustrating,″ she said.

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