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Reporter's Pool Party Host Eyed By Cops

The estranged husband of a suburban Chicago woman missing for more than two months was named a "person of interest" Thursday by police who also said they fear Lisa Stebic was the victim of foul play.

Police had previously been reluctant to name Craig Stebic as the subject of their investigation. The couple were going through a divorce, but they still lived together with their two children in the family's Plainfield home.

The case made news earlier this week when a television reporter covering the case was videotaped wearing a swimsuit at Craig Stebic's home. Reporter Amy Jacobson, who said she was just aggressively pursuing a source on her day off, was then fired by WMAQ-TV.

Craig Stebic was the last person to report seeing his wife on the evening of April 30; there has been no activity since on her credit cards, checking account or cell phone.

At a news conference, Plainfield Police Chief Donald Bennett said during the 10-week investigation, Craig Stebic has "offered only minimal assistance to detectives" and refused to participate in any searches organized by his wife's family and supported by the police department.

Bennett said that Stebic has twice refused requests by police and the Will County state's attorney's office to let investigators talk to his children — ages 10 and 12 — about their mother's disappearance

"Police have logged thousands of hours in this investigation and have pursued every viable lead," Bennett said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Stebic had denied investigators the crucial opportunity to conduct a thorough, in-person interview with his children."

Bennett said the children were among the last people to see their mother before she disappeared April 30, and said authorities believe they may have "valuable information that will assist in the investigation."

The police chief authorities have found no signs that Stebic left the house "of her own free will." Friends and family members detectives have interviewed in the case said Lisa Stebic never would have abandoned her children, and authorities are "now focusing on the scenario that she is most likely the victim of foul play," Bennett said.

Bennett declined to answer any questions from reporters.

The day Lisa Stebic disappeared, she had mailed off a petition seeking to remove her husband from their home. In the divorce case, she had accused him of being "unnecessarily relentless, cruel, inconsiderate, domineering and verbally abusive."

In May, police carried out a search warrant on the couple's home and vehicles, but a judge sealed its contents.

Stebic, whose 38th birthday was in May, had worked her normal shift in a nearby elementary school cafeteria on the day of her disappearance and was home when her son and daughter arrived from school.

Craig Stebic has said that he saw his wife leave the house carrying only her cell phone and purse. He reported her missing the next morning.

The case took another twist when Craig Stebic, who has been caring for the children, filed for sole temporary custody, arguing it was a precaution in case his wife returned and attempted to take them away. A judge denied the request Tuesday.

Dion Davi, an attorney who represents Craig Stebic in the divorce, has said speculation swirling about his client hurts the children.

The day she vanished, Lisa Stebic told her divorce attorney, Glenn Kahn, that she would send him a petition seeking to have Craig Stebic removed from the house, but otherwise acted normally, Kahn said. He later got the petition in the mail.

Craig Stebic filed for divorce in January, citing irreconcilable differences. A motion filed in the case by Lisa Stebic claimed her husband, "both alone and in the presence of the minor children, is unnecessarily relentless, cruel, inconsiderate, domineering and verbally abusive, (and) is jeopardizing both Lisa's mental and physical well-being."

Davi has said previously that the allegations were made in the heat of a divorce battle.

After her disappearance, Lisa Stebic's family offered a $20,000 reward, posted clips on the video-sharing Web site You Tube, created a Web site www.findlisastebic.com and appeared on national news shows.

When she disappeared, Stebic was happy, despite going through the divorce and living under the same roof as her husband, according to Melanie Greenberg, who is married to Lisa Stebic's cousin and acts as family spokeswoman. She agreed to live with her husband because she didn't want to upset her children's routine, the family spokeswoman has said.

Over the past year the 5-foot-2 Stebic lost 40 pounds and started socializing again after the breakup of her 14-year marriage. As a symbol, Stebic recently got a butterfly tattoo on her back with her kids' names on either side, according to Greenberg.

At the news conference, Bennett appeared to dismiss any speculation that the announcement was tied to the video involving reporter Amy Jacobson, saying that incident "has no impact on our investigation."

The video, posted on rival TV station WBBM-TV's Web site, showed Jacobson wearing a halter bikini top and towel near Stebic's pool. Jacobson's two young children and a bare-chested Stebic were also shown in the video, shot last Friday.

Jacobson has said she was heading out to go swimming with her children when Craig Jacobson's sister called her and asked her over to discuss the case. Her actions and subsequent dismissal ignited a debate about whether she violated journalistic ethics.