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Crime News Cold Cases

What Happened To Sandy Klemp And Her Missing Daughter Lena Chapin From 'Unsolved Mysteries'?

Liehnia "Lena" Chapin is still listed as a missing person by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

By Connor Mannion
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The final episode of a new batch of "Unsolved Mysteries" episodes that premiered this week focuses on the cold case disappearance of an Ozarks mom — and how the woman's mother may have been involved.

The episode "Missing Witness" actually discusses two people disappearing — Gary McCullough in 1999 and Liehnia "Lena" Chapin in 2006. Both are linked by a common denominator: Sandra "Sandy" Klemp, McCullough's former wife and Chapin's mother. Lena took her last name from her father, Robert Chapin — one of Sandy's many husbands.

"She was very good at telling people what to hear," Klemp's second husband Albert McCullough told filmmakers of his ex-wife, describing her as manipulative. Albert noted that Klemp ended up cheating on him and leaving him for his brother Gary. 

Lena Chapin Pd

Despite the rocky start to the relationship, Lena's sister Brandi Petersen praised Gary as a person and as a good stepfather. 

"He's a good guy. Just got mixed up with the wrong person," Petersen told "Unsolved Mysteries."

Salem News reporter Andrew Sheely described Klemp as the problem in her many marriages when he spoke with producers.

"Sandy has a pattern of behavior of jumping from one man to another," Sheely said."And then once she's got him, she gets bored with him and moves on to the next guy."

This is what was on display when she entered a relationship with Kris Klemp while she was still married to Gary McCullough, "Unsolved Mysteries" explained. But after Gary McCullough announced to friends he intended to divorce Sandy over her infidelity, he vanished in May 1999.

Law enforcement noted to producers that Kris Klemp moved in with Sandy soon after Gary McCullough was reported missing and that a search warrant found that all traces of Gary McCullough — like clothes and belongings — had been apparently thrown away.

"I asked Sandy to take a polygraph. She looks me straight in the eye and tells me 'you find a body and I'll take a polygraph,'" retired Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly told producers. "I knew at that point that we're gonna have to go through a needle in a haystack to find a body."

Petersen also recounted that on the day Gary McCullough disappeared, Sandy told the family to tell anyone they didn't know what happened to him. She also recounted that she saw her mother scrubbing the house's floors with bleach.

Another one of Lena's sisters Robin Shoemaker told "Unsolved Mysteries" that she saw her mother and Kris Klemp carrying out what looked to her like Gary McCullough's body out of the house, wrapped up in something.

But the case went cold because no one was willing to talk at the time — until Lena apparently couldn't keep Gary's apparent death a secret anymore, "Unsolved Mysteries" showed.

Lena talked about her mother shooting Gary to death in a recorded conversation played on "Unsolved Mysteries." She was speaking with Albert, Gary's brother and her former stepfather, who recorded the conversation after Lena indicated she wanted to come clean.

Sandy also forced Lena to help clean up the crime scene — including disposing of Gary’s body, Petersen told the Monett Times in 2016.

Lena confessed to other members of her family, although Sandy was able to hire a lawyer and keep Lena from confessing to police about the alleged crime. 

Petersen — in a terrifying scene recounted in "Unsolved Mysteries" — recalled Kris Klemp threatening to shoot her after she told her mother she would talk to authorities.

The case continues through civil litigation, when the McCullough family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2006, according to the Monett Times. But before the lawsuit was filed that summer, another mysterious disappearance would rock the family.

In 2006, Lena was 20 years old and living with her boyfriend Jason Bryant and her son Colter, according to the Monet Times. She disappeared that year in February — with Sandy claiming she ran off to Florida with a new boyfriend, and leaving her current boyfriend and son behind. 

The disappearance was not reported until 2008, when the McCullough lawsuit subpoenaed Lena for testimony and found that she had disappeared. She was formally reported missing by her father Robert Chapin.

In 2012, Bryant told investigators the last time he saw Lena was on the morning of Feb. 14, 2006, when he kissed her and left for work, The Monett Times reported. He returned home to find Sandy cleaning out the home of Lena's possessions and telling him Lena had left him.

Producers sponsored a search for potential remains at the places where Sandy had lived, but nothing was uncovered.

What Happened To Sandy Klemp?

Klemp appeared to be uninterested in helping authorities find her ex-husband and daughter, according to Missouri news outlet The Salem News in 2016, who also reported that she refuses to talk about the case at all. 

She has since divorced Kris Klemp and moved onto a new husband as of 2016. She's now married to a man named Joe Wink and is apparently raising Lena's son as her own, law enforcement told the Monett Times. 

A jury found Kris Klemp and Sandy liable for damages in 2013 and ordered them to pay $7 million in damages to the McCulloughs. The money still remains outstanding, according to "Unsolved Mysteries."

Attempts to reach the Winks for comment were not successful. Both Sandy Wink and Kris Klemp declined to speak with "Unsolved Mysteries."

Law enforcement in Missouri did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the case. 

Both McCullough and Chapin are still listed as missing persons by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The patrol said it suspects foul play in McCullough's disappearance and a court has declared him dead.

"Unsolved Mysteries" is available to stream on Netflix.