Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Ben Stein, an ex-convict whose firm United Maintenance Company, supplied janitorial services at McCormick Place and illegal gifts to union officials in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act, was romantically linked to Karen Koppel who vanished the night of April 26, 1980.
The relationship had began to sour after Koppel realized that she had been deceived into believing that her wealthy boyfriend was estranged from his wife. Stein's promises of marriage ended very quickly after Koppel became pregnant and was coerced to undergo an abortion. Shortly before her disappearance Koppel penned a note describing her mental anguish and some very real concerns about her own safety. Koppel also became pregnant and was coerced to undergo an abortion. Shortly afterwards, Koppel told her friends that she wanted $50,000 in return for her promise to get out of Stein's life. If anything were to happen, she added, it could be blamed on one Rick Simon, a moonlighting cop then assigned to the East Chicago Avenue Station. Simon worked for Stein as a chauffeur and was positioned as a vice-president of one of the janitorial companies.
Simon met with Koppel at Flapjaw's saloon, 810 N. Wabash Avenue, the night she disappeared. Apparently Miss Koppel feared Mr. Simon because, before going to this meeting with him, she handed a guard at her office building a card that bore the name and address of her attorney. She told the guard, "call this number if I don't come back." Simon offered Koppel $10,000 and the free use of a Lake Shore Drive apartment in return for her agreement to exit quietly. Koppel has never been seen since this meeting.
There was speculation at the time that she was murdered and dumped in the middle of Lake Michigan. Simon was interviewed by police early on and has long denied knowing what happened to Koppel or doing anything wrong. Simon refused to testify before a grand jury investigating the disappearance of Karen Lee Koppel. Stein died in 1996.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Chicago Police Department