MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — A man charged with murder in the disappearance 33 years ago of a 13-year-old Milwaukee girl confessed to police that he pushed her down a flight of stairs because she didn’t want to make out with him and that he “had his way with her” before realizing she was dead, according to a criminal complaint.
The document reveals details in a long dormant case that resurfaced last week after a TV station reported that 50-year-old Jose Ferreira called its newsroom and discussed the case in disturbing detail.
Ferreira was arrested Oct. 12, a day after his wife went to police in suburban Milwaukee and told them he had called her and described what he had done, according to the complaint. The same day his wife went to police, Ferreira called WISN-Milwaukee and a mental health crisis hotline and discussed the death.1
The girl, Carrie Ann Jopek, went missing in March 1982 after getting suspended from school for walking the halls without a pass. Her mother, Carolyn Tousignant, says she thinks her daughter got kicked out on purpose so she could party at a neighbor’s house with other teens who had ditched school.
Tousignant said she had the option of picking her daughter up from the school’s office, but she chose not to since they lived only a block away. The seventh-grader never came home.1
At the party, according to the police document, Ferreira said he and others had been drinking and that he saw Jopek take a puff of marijuana, which he gave her. After that, Ferreira said, Jopek asked if he wanted to go to the basement where he assumed they would make out.
Before they went downstairs, Ferreira told police, Jopek had second thoughts and said, “I don’t know if this is a good idea.”
Ferreira said he looked at Jopek “sternly and said: ‘You are going downstairs.’”
He confessed to shoving her and told police that he saw her hit the railing and wall and fall to the basement floor. He said she wasn’t moving when he walked down the stairs.
Ferreira said he thought she was “knocked out,” and that he saw that as “an opportunity.”2
He told a detective he fondled her. He told a crisis counsellor, according to the document, he “had his way with her.” Chris Gegg, news director at WISN 12, said Monday that Ferreira told a morning show producer he had sex with her.
The police document says he realized her neck was broken when he picked her up from the floor and saw her head was turned unnaturally.
He told authorities he buried her underneath the back porch.
Tousignant has said that when she went looking for her daughter, she went to the home. She said she went to the front door and believes that if she had gone to the back she could have found her daughter.
The case went cold for 17 months until someone repairing the porch came across the body.
Police considered Ferreira and others as suspects, but never filed charges until this recent confession.
Ferreira has been charged with second-degree murder and faces 20 years in prison. He has been held in the Milwaukee County Jail.
Attorney Melissa Nepomiachi, who appeared in court as Ferreira’s public defender on Saturday, said she won’t be handling the case in the future. The Public Defender’s Office will appoint someone else, and the office declined comment Monday, Nepomiachi said.