Posted on Fri, Jan. 28, 2005

Find stirs hope in Shipp case

By RUSS PULLEY The Kansas City Star

A slip of plastic recovered this week might help find Summer Shipp. Or it could be a dead end.

A single “frequent shopper” card belonging to Shipp, a Kansas City woman missing since Dec. 8, was recently returned to the Ball's Food Stores.

Shipp disappeared from Independence. Her family is asking anyone who may have found a single, key chain-sized Hen House card to contact them or authorities.

The discovery could lead to other evidence if authorities can determine where it was found. That location would be searched for other evidence.

The card had not been used within the last couple of months.

There is a chance the card came from someone connected with Shipp's disappearance, said John Underhill of Missouri Investigations Inc., who is working with the family for free.

“It could be someone playing games,” Underhill said. “It's all up in the air.”

If it was turned in at a store, the person who turned it in might be on videotape.

The card's punch-hole was still filled so it has never been attached to a key ring.

Shipp could have carried it in a purse, a wallet or a pocket.

Ball's Food Stores mailed the card this week to Shipp's residence on Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City.

It had been mixed in with other lost cards and routinely processed by an employee, said Jeff Gaines, corporate loss prevention investigator for the company.

After being contacted by the Shipps, company officials checked records to determine whether the card had been used since Shipp's disappearance. They looked back a couple of months and determined it had not.

The card, with bar codes, has no name or owner's address displayed. It has a company address on the back.

Lost cards typically are sent to the headquarters from a store “lost and found” or returned by the U.S. Postal Service if dropped in a collection box.

At the company office an employee scans a pile of the cards each week and mails them back to owners, Gaines said. That employee remembers addressing the envelope and mailing Shipp's card, but does not recall how it came to her, he said. No records are kept on how or when the cards are turned in.

The family received Shipp's card in the mail Wednesday.

Independence detectives could not be reached Thursday.

To reach Russ Pulley, call

(816) 234-7811 or send e-mail



How to help

• Tips can be mailed to Friends of Summer at P.O. Box 410821, Kansas City MO 64141-8021; or call the Move Up secret witness line at (816) 753-1111 or the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS (474-8477).