The Moline Police Department has shared the recognition a Moline Detective earned after he solved a decades-old missing-person case.

“Please join us in congratulating Detective Michael Griffin on receiving the Moline Police Department Meritorious Achievement Award during a ceremony at Moline, IL – Official City Government Council meeting,” a Facebook post says.

Griffin was nominated for his work on the Steven Asplund missing person case.

A 1994 disappearance

On January 9, 1994, Steven Asplund was last seen wearing a T-shirt, Chicago Bears jacket, gray sweatpants, and white tennis shoes, leaving in a black Ford mustang. He was last seen in the area of the 500 block of 20th Avenue, Moline.

Steven Asplund (Credit: Moline, Illinois, Police Department)

A few days after his disappearance, Asplund’s car was found at Leach Park in Bettendorf. Fingerprints and DNA were analyzed from the car and found to belong to him or his fiancée. The case became static, and no information came in for years, the Facebook post says.

In November 2021, Griffin systematically investigated the recovered/unidentified remains along the Mississippi River from Moline to Tennessee using the National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUs).

Griffin found an unidentified male body recovered in March 1994 in St. Louis County had on gray sweatpants and white shoes.

There were some discrepancies between the unidentified remains and Asplund. “Detective Griffin’s collaborative attitude led him to work with Dr. Lindsay Trammell, a Forensic Anthropologist with the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office,” the post says.

It was determined that the discrepancies were incorrect. “Detective Griffin and Dr. Trammell began working with Illinois State Police Forensic Scientist Aaron Small and they obtained a bone sample from the unidentified remains,” the post says.

The unidentified remains bone and the Asplund’s familial DNA samples were submitted to the Illinois State Police Crime Lab.

On Sept. 6, 2022, after completion of processing by Illinois State Police, it was determined that the unidentified remains in St. Louis County on March 21, 1994, were of Steven Asplund, missing from Moline on Jan. 9, 1994.

According to the post, “Detective Griffin’s critical thinking skills and perseverance allowed him to innovate and implement a new investigative technique, and he proactively found Mr. Asplund on September 6, 2022.”

“Detective Griffin’s character and strong desire to serve the citizens are illustrated throughout the Asplund case. Despite the challenges, his moral character radiated throughout the case. Detective Griffin intelligently acted and exceeded standards by closing a twenty-eight-year-old cold case,” said Moline Police Chief Darren Gault.

Detective Griffin displayed innovation, critical thinking skills, and passion throughout the case, and was able to provide closure to the Asplund family and community, Gault said.

“Detective Griffin’s actions exceeded the standards for law enforcement. It is an honor to award Detective Griffin with the Meritorious Achievement Award,” Gault said.