Above Image: Zimmerman, circa 1997
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: May 26, 1997 from Gifford, Illinois
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: October 17, 1977
Weight: 115 lbs.
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Green
Distinguishing Characteristics: Tattoo of three red
roses with a black stem on left outer ankle. Right-handed.
Clothing: Medium-sized Sears' navy/chambray shirt,
stone-washed bellbottom jeans (size 9), and black St.
Michael shoes (size 9 - 9 1/2).
Details of Disappearance
Heather's husband, Michael Zimmerman, was enlisted with the United States Marines in Japan in 1997. She resided with her parents in Gifford, Illinois while he served abroad. Her loved ones said that their marriage was troubled at the time, with some reports stating they were divorced or separated.
She left all of her personal belongings at home. Her mother said that Heather's purse had been stolen shortly before her disappearance. She was not carrying any credit cards, cash or identification as a result. Heather was employed as a clerk at Casey's store in 1997. She never retrieved her paycheck from the business.
Extensive searches of the area produced no clues as to Heather's whereabouts. Her family members said it is uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. She did not have access to a vehicle at the time of her disappearance. There have been no arrests in connection with Heather's case.
In June 1997, an unidentified man called WCIA-Channel 3 television and said that Zimmerman's body could be found in a borrow pit north of Gifford. The area was thoroughly searched, but no trace of Heather was found. In November 1998, a gravel pit was also searched with the same results, though K-9 units did alert to the smell of human remains.
On March 9, 2007, Jamie E. Harper disappeared from her Paxton, Illinois home, after attending a party in Rantoul. According to Crime Library, the chief of police has noted similarities between Heather and Jamie's cases. Some of the same people may be involved. Foul play has not been ruled out in either disappearance.
Heather was last seen on May 26, 1997. Her parents said that she took a soda from the refrigerator and departed their home at approximately 8:30 PM. Heather may have visited a friend in rural Rantoul, Illinois that night. Authorities received information that she was dropped off near her family's residence during the early morning hours of May 27, but it was not confirmed. Heather has never been heard from again.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Champaign County Sheriff's Office
Lt. Ed Ogle
The Garden Of Missing Children Society