Man's trip to a cheese shop helps unravel Wisconsin missing persons case

Kris Zocco's whereabouts the morning Kelly Dwyer was reported missing would be the first in a series of clues as to what may have happened to the 27-year-old woman

The Disappearance of Kelly Dwyer

Last Updated Nov 2, 2019 11:38 PM EDT

Kelly Dwyer seemingly vanished after a night out in Milwaukee in October 2013. Correspondent Peter Van Sant and "48 Hours" investigate Dwyer's story and the quest for answers in "The Disappearance of Kelly Dwyer." 

How does a cheese shop 80 miles from downtown Milwaukee become a critical component in the investigation into the death of Kelly Dwyer? Kris Zocco claimed it was all about the cheese. 

Milwaukee Police Department investigators determined that on Saturday, October 12, 2013, the same day Kelly Dwyer was reported missing, Kris Zocco made a 160-mile drive from Milwaukee to Madison and back. His destination, according to his longtime girlfriend Meagan, was the Mousehouse, just outside of Madison, where he purchased a half pound wedge of "Igor's Heat," a spicy Wisconsin pepper jack. When later questioned about this journey, Zocco said he had bought the cheese, a favorite of Meagan's parents who were coming to town for a visit, as a welcome gift.  

The Mousehouse Cheesehaus is a popular tourist destination located a few miles north of the Wisconsin State Capitol, just off busy I-94. Family owned and operated since 1988, the Mousehouse offers 145 different varieties of assorted cheeses produced in their own factories.  

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Investigators say Kris Zocco 160-mile round trip the day after Kelly Dwyer's disappearance to go to the Mousehouse, near Madison, Wisconsin, had nothing to do with buying cheese and everything to do with Dwyer, who they believe was, at the time, deceased and in a travel golf bag in the trunk of Zocco's car. CBS News

But in a state full of cheese shops, the Mousehouse is hardly unique. In fact, one of the most popular cheese shops in the state, the Wisconsin Cheese Mart is located in downtown Milwaukee, just a mile and a half drive from Meagan's apartment building and two miles from Zocco's own residence. And, not surprisingly, the Wisconsin Cheese Mart offers its own version of a spicy pepper jack, very similar to "Igor's Heat," which would seem to make it a much more convenient place for Kris Zocco to pick up a chunk of cheese on a Saturday morning.

Investigators are certain that Zocco's road trip had nothing to do with cheese and everything to do with Kelly Dwyer, who they believe was, at the time, deceased and in a travel golf bag in the trunk of Zocco's car. According to retired Milwaukee Police Detective Katherine Spano, "He was desperate. By Saturday he had to get that body out of that vehicle." Which is exactly what police think Zocco did, either on the way west to the Mousehouse or on his return drive to Milwaukee. When discovered, her body was located May 1, 2015, just miles from the route Zocco drove that morning.
 
And that special gift wedge of "Igor's Heat?" Detective Spano believes it smelled more like an alibi. "What if someone else comes along and sees his car? What if someone sees this license plate or sees him doing something suspicious? He can say, well, I was in that- I was in the area that day. Yeah, I was buying cheese."

To this date, Kris Zocco denies having anything to do with Kelly Dwyer's death.