Details of Disappearance Derewitz ended her relationship with her fiance, David Anthony Kniga, in May 2001. A photographs of Kniga is posted below with case summary. Derewitz moved out of the home they shared in Dearborn Heights, Michigan at that time. On June 3, 2001, she arrived at Kniga's residence in the 3900 block of Detroit Street near Colgate Street to get her mail.
Kniga's new girlfriend was also visiting the house and told authorities that Derewitz and Kniga had an argument. Derewitz apparently left the residence, then returned shortly thereafter. She had a confrontation with his new girlfriend at that time. The girlfriend stated that Kniga grabbed Derewitz and went into the basement with her. He came upstairs and told his new girlfriend to leave shortly afterwards.
The girlfriend told authorities that she saw Derewitz lying on the basement floor as she departed the residence. Derewitz was gasping for breath and appeared to be severely injured. The girlfriend did not summon authorities or call for medical assistance as she left the house. Derewitz has never been heard from again.
Derewitz's teal green 1994 or 1995 Ford Escort was discovered abandoned in the parking lot of Ten Eyck Park on June 7, 2001, four days after her disappearance. It had apparently been parked there on June 5 or 6. Ten Eyck Park is two blocks away from Derewitz's mother's home.
There were no readable fingerprints inside the vehicle. Derewitz's personal belongings, including her purse and identification, were not recovered.
The new girlfriend cooperated with authorities and took a polygraph exam regarding Derewitz's case. Kniga was scheduled to take a lie detector test, but he changed his mind and hired an attorney instead. He maintained his innocence in Derewitz's disappearance and admitted his new girlfriend and Derewitz were at his home on June 3, but said they arrived at different times.
In June 2003, over two years after Derewitz vanished, authorities charged Kniga with second-degree murder in her case. At the time of his arrest, he was still living in the home he used to share with Derewitz. He originally pleaded not guilty to the charge, but in October 2003 changed his plea to guilty of manslaughter.
Kniga could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the original charge. Instead he was sentenced to five to fifteen years in prison. He was paroled in 2015, and discharged from parole in 2017.
Derewitz's family describes her as an extremely dependable person who would not have left without warning. There has not been any activity on her bank accounts or her credit cards since she disappeared. She was employed at Oakwood Commons in Dearborn as a receptionist and server, a job she had held since high school. She had also enrolled at Henry Ford Community College. Her loved ones stated that she planned to change her studies from health-related fields to business-oriented classes.
Kniga said he put Derewitz's body in a Dumpster near the former Veterans Affairs Hospital in Allen Park, Michigan. It has never been found. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
- Dearborn Heights Police Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 12, 2018; details of disappearance updated.