Age Then: 35
Age Now: 78
Circumstances and Updates
In 1980, Karen Koppel was in a relationship with Ben Stein, a 67-year-old married man known around town as the “King of the Janitors” and had ties to organized crime.
The relationship began to sour after Koppel realized that Stein was not truly estranged from his wife and had no intention of marrying her. It was during this period that Koppel became pregnant and was coerced to undergo an abortion. Shortly afterwards, Koppel began making wild accusations about Stein, and demanded a large financial settlement to let things drop.
Stein asked a long-time friend – then-Chicago cop Richard “Rick” Simon, who moonlighted for Stein’s firm – to help amicably resolve things, according to police records and interviews.
Simon met with Koppel at Flapjaw’s saloon, 810 N. Wabash Avenue, the night she disappeared. According to published reports 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 the woman was murdered and dumped in the middle of Lake Michigan.
Simon said in an interview he doesn’t know what happened to Koppel, but doesn’t buy that she was murdered. Rather, he suspects she’s still alive with a new identity, having left Chicago because she was mentally unstable and horribly “humiliated” at being spurned by Stein.