Metro-East News

Unearthing 44-year-old cold case from Belleville’s history an emotional experience, reporter says

Sister of murdered Belleville teen visits grave for first time after 44 years

The half-sister of a murdered Belleville teen visits grave for the first time after 44 years. The still-unsolved murder happened in 1974.
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The half-sister of a murdered Belleville teen visits grave for the first time after 44 years. The still-unsolved murder happened in 1974.

Heidi Wiechert used documents that had never been seen by the public and stories that were never shared in court to report on a 44-year-old unsolved murder from Belleville’s history.

Wiechert, a Belleville News-Democrat reporter, talks about what she learned from police records and conversations with people who knew Sabrina Cain in the second episode of the BND’s podcast, 618 Explained.

Sabrina was 18 when she went missing and was later found dead. The only person indicted for the murder was Sabrina’s stepfather, Fred Roark, a Belleville police officer.

Roark was found not-guilty at trial and was buried next to Sabrina when he died four years after her. Sabrina’s mother, Lorene, never believed Roark could be her daughter’s murderer. Others weren’t so sure, like the person who mailed an anonymous note to the St. Clair County Sheriff.

The note read, “Her stepfather killed Miss Cain that dam (sic) policeman.”

Wiechert uses the BND’s archives to find old stories to revisit for a series called “Into the Archives.” For the podcast, she explains why she chooses to look back on stories such as Sabrina’s murder and the train crash that killed 12 in Beckemeyer.

Join the 618 Explained Facebook group to see when new podcast episodes are available and to tell us which headlines you want to hear more about.

The podcast includes the voices of Kelsey Landis, Kaley Johnson and Lexi Cortes. Derik Holtmann is the producer. Episode 2 is based on the reporting of Heidi Wiechert.

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