'Missing' investigates Leanne Marie Hausberg - a New York girl who vanished

Leanne Marie Hausberg disappeared March 18, 1999 without a trace. Kristin Thorne is working to find answers in this cold case.

ByKristin Thorne and Emily Sowa via WABC logo
Friday, July 8, 2022
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Watch the first episode of "Missing," ABC7's new series investigating cold cases of people who have vanished without a trace. This is the story of Leanne Marie Hausberg of Bensonhurst, a 14-year-old girl who went missing in 1999.

BENSONHURST, Brooklyn (WABC) -- On the morning of March 18, 1999, teenager Leanne Marie Hausberg disappeared into thin air. The 14-year-old left her family's apartment in Brooklyn and has never been heard from again.

For almost 23 years, Leanne's family has lived with the agony of not knowing what happened to her. I hope that by bringing their emotional story to the world, people will try to find Leanne or - at the very least - come forward with information they may have about where she went or who she was with when she disappeared.

Let me explain how we got here, to Leanne's story.

It all began on September 13, 2021, the first day I covered the disappearance of Gabby Petito and met with her distraught parents on Long Island. The story consumed the next two months of my life.

Throughout this time, I spoke routinely with Gabby's father, Joseph Petito. Most of what we spoke about, I have never reported, but one thing he made clear to me is that he wanted the media to cover other missing people. He said they deserved attention, too, and he was right.

I started to look at databases of missing people across the Tri-State area and as I scrolled through the hundreds of faces, I thought about not only those people but their families and friends and the ripple effect of pain that is caused when people disappear.

I thought, "Maybe I can help?"

I started calling private investigators around New York City looking for cases to profile.

WATCH | Kristin Thorne on process behind investigative series 'Missing'

Eventually, I spoke with Liz Brock, a private investigator with Roots Investigations on Long Island, who told me that just a few months earlier, she had started working pro bono for a family in Bensonhurst whose daughter had gone missing in 1999.

I immediately followed up with Leanne's family.

Although Gabby's family did not get the outcome they wanted, they have an answer. These other families, like Leanne's, live in an endless spiral of not knowing and yet still holding onto hope that one day their loved one is just going to reappear.

It's like hearing a knock on your front door and every time you open the door, no one is there. Put that on repeat year upon year.

I spent the last month digging into every aspect of Leanne's life, including scouring her diary, which gives some clues into her disappearance.

I met with her family, spoke with her friends and acquaintances, and even with the private investigator. I pieced together the final steps that Leanne most likely took, but eventually, the path goes cold.

What I know in my gut is that someone knows something. I hope this story will inspire those people to talk to investigators or Leanne's family.

For everyone else, use social media to share tips about Leanne at #FindLeanne or visit her family's website for more information.

Maybe after watching this story, you will be able to help with a clue. Let's help Leanne's family, the way everyone helped Gabby Petito's family.

If you know anything about the disappearance of Leanne Marie Hausberg, call the NYPD Missing Persons Squad at 212-694-7781. Tips can be kept anonymous.

You can watch the episode here, but if you want to have a better experience, did you know you can watch 'Missing' on your television set? Just make sure you add the ABC7NY app on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV. To download our app, viewers can search "ABC7 New York" in the app store.

CREDITS:

Kristin Thorne | Writer, Producer, Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter

Emily Sowa | Senior Digital Producer, Videographer, and Editor

John Sprei | Photographer

Anthony Saturno | Photographer

Evan Shumrak | Photographer

Rolando Pujol | EP Digital Content, Innovation and Strategy

Dana Bussey | Creative Director, Design

Jim Gorham | Vice President, Marketing

Kim Dillon | Assistant News Director

Peter Kunz | Assistant News Director

Joseph Kollar | Graphic Artist

Frank Esposito | Data Journalist

Robert Monek | EP Web and OTV Digital Project Manager

Adam Stephan | Managing Editor

Brian McLaughlin | Assignment Editor

Morena Basteiro | Assignment Editor

Laryssa Demkiw | Production Assistant

Natalie Cioffari | Production Assistant

Devon Lewis | Production Assistant

Brandon Nelson | Creative Director, Brand

Johanna Trupp | Senior Marketing Producer

Luke Richards | Senior Manager, Content Development

Rehan Aslam | Vice President News

Chad Matthews | President and General Manager

Debra OConnell | President, Networks Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

SPECIAL THANKS

Townsend Davis

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