Women in picture could help close Farmington's only unsolved murder

Reward offered to help solve murder of woman last seen Christmas Eve 1980

By Kevin Dietz - Reporter


Police investigators in Farmington hope two women in a photograph can help them close the only unsolved murder case they have on the books.

The murder of Debra Rentschler is more than 30 years old, but Farmington police commander Frank Demers said they could be just one tip away from solving the case.

Debra Rentschler was found dead in a parking lot in Farmington on Christmas Day 1980.   She had been strangled.  Investigators discovered her body in a lot in the area of Drake Road near Grand River. Hours earlier, the 18-year-old was last seen getting into a car at the corner of Woodward and Seward in Detroit.

"She was found right in this general area, face down, snow covered, three quarters of her body covered by snow, and, you know, visible injuries to her knees, elbows and again the marks on her neck," said Commander Frank Demers of Farmington Public Safety.

A photograph of Rentschler taken the summer before she disappeared could help investigators solve the case. The two other women in the picture have never been identified.  While they are not suspects, police said they were Rentschler's friends and they may know whose car she got into the night she died.

Rentschler's brother, Dave Rentschler said he believes he spoke to his sister just before she died.  She had called the house to let their grandparents know that she was coming for Christmas the next day.

"She was a very fun, outgoing person.  Very nice, sometimes too trusting with people.  I always told her before, "Debbie please be careful of who you hang with,'" said Dave Rentschler.

The family is pleading for the public to come forward with the names of the two women in the picture.

"Put yourself in our shoes.  What if that was your daughter? Or your sister? How would you feel? Put yourself in our shoes. That's all I ask. Do the right thing. Come foreword. Somebody knows something out here," said Rentschler.

Debra Rentschler was a prostitute and she had a distinctive tattoo with the letters 'luv me'  

Police have offered a $2,500 reward for information that will help solve this case.   People with tips can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAKUP or call the city of Farmington Public Safety Department at 248-474-4700.

"We are not going to rest until we get some closure on this case," said Demers.

This is the final unsolved murder in the city of Farmington.  Investigators said no tip is too small to help solve it.

"I want to see justice.  I want to see whoever did this, have to pay for it and not see another family go through what we have," said Debra's sister Amy Rentschler.

--Debra Rentschler

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