Diane Marie Schofield
Diane Marie Schofield
2000 Blk. Porter
Des Moines, IA
Case # 1975-24048
July 4, 1975
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines in Polk County
Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing
On Thursday afternoon, July 10, 1975, the body of a young woman was found in the trunk of a tan 1966 Rambler in a parking lot near the Des Moines airport and later identified as 21-year-old Diane Marie Schofield of 2931 Cottage Grove in Des Moines. Schofield, a divorcee with a 5-year-old daughter, had worked in Des Moines as a waitress and a masseuse.
A parking lot sweeper for Warren’s Steak House, who noticed an odor coming from a car in the parking lot at southwest 20th and Porter (used to store airport rental cars behind the steak house), alerted authorities, and firemen were called to pry open the trunk lid.
Schofield, while found fully clothed in a green halter top and blue jeans but with no shoes, had been strangled with a strip of knotted cloth, had her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound with twine near the ankles. Other than strangulation, there were no other apparent signs of violence on the body and her wristwatch and rings were not taken. Identification was made by family primarily through personal items found on the body, including a digital wristwatch and several turquoise rings.
[Then] Police Chief Wendell E. Nichols said the case didn’t look like a robbery because Schofield still had her $200 wristwatch. Police also said the 1966 Rambler was registered to the victim.
According to police and Schofield’s acquaintances at the time of her death, Mrs. Schofield had been employed as a masseuse at several massage parlors in Des Moines and also had been employed as a waitress at the Totem Pole Lounge, 1503 E. Douglas Ave., the previous summer.
Determining Time of Death, Whereabouts
Polk County Medical Examiner R.C. Wooters initially said Schofield had been dead for approximately six days, but later revised his ruling after Des Moines police established she was alive three days prior to her body’s discovery. [Then] DM Police Detective Clarence Jobe said police interviewed witnesses who saw Schofield alive Monday evening, July 7. Dr. Wooters said the original estimate was made without taking the period’s high temperatures into consideration, and modified the original estimate to place Schofield’s time of death “sometime after 9 p.m. Monday, July 7.”
Schofield recently had lived at 1503 24th St. and at 3828 Cottage Grove Ave., and had rented a U-Haul trailer from the Apco Service Station, 2324 Forest Ave., about 8 p.m. on July 1 to move her belongings to her new Cottage Grove address. She returned the trailer the next day.
Witnesses told police Schofield drove into the same service station about 10 a.m. on Monday, July 7, where she bought $2 worth of gasoline. An attendant on duty that night recalled that Mrs. Schofield complained about her car’s tail lights not working properly after the U-Haul trailer hitch had been removed. The service station attendant said the tail lights had apparently been fixed by an employee at the station.
An attendant said Schofield returned to the station about 9:10 p.m. that evening to buy cigarettes, and mentioned she was going to be late for work.
Schofield’s last place of employment was Dave Salem’s Foozin’ ‘n’ Boozin’, a tavern at 1803 Keosauqua Way. Salem, who said he’d known Schofield for about six weeks, said she had asked for time off about 10:30 p.m. on July 4 and that he hadn’t seen her after that.
Salem said the young mother could “do no wrong” and was “always willing to help out.”
William Smith, 22, a drug counselor for ADAPT, 512 Ninth St., said he thought he last saw Mrs. Schofield alive about 9:30 p.m. on July 4 when she took him and his 18-year-old nephew to Smith’s home and dropped them off. “She told us she was going to take a shower and go to work at Fooze and Booze,” Smith is quoted as saying in a July 12 Des Moines Register article.
Schofield’s date of death is listed on her gravestone as July 4 — the date most believe she was last seen alive.
“Mixed up at times”
Smith, who described Schofield as “mixed up at times” and “seemed to have a lot of pressure on her,” said he was acquainted with Mrs. Schofield because he’d done time with her husband (Kenneth) at Anamosa. Smith said he “got out a year ago Monday.” (Des Moines Register, July 12, 1975)
Smith also referenced Schofield’s “gun charge was kind of bad,” stating that someone else had slipped a gun to her to avoid getting caught. Police records showed Mrs. Schofield was sentenced in January to five years in the Women’s Reformatory for carrying a concealed .22-caliber pistol, but was placed on probation. The charge stemmed from an April 23, 1974, incident when she was arrested on traffic charges following a chase by police.
Mike Killion, 22, said he’d known Mrs. Schofield for about seven years, had seen her at the Clearwater Beach on Friday afternoon (July 4), and that he believed more than one person killed her because Schofield was strong and knew karate. Killion also stated he was the one who reported her missing the following Monday when she didn’t show up for work.
Attorney William Kutmus, who represented Schofield in her concealed weapon charge, said she told him several months earlier that she’d been asked to be some type of informant relating to drugs. Officers connected with Schofield’s investigation said they’d had no knowledge of her being an informant.
Courtesy photo Katie Lou, findagrave.com
- Diane was buried in Urbandale, Iowa, at the McDivitt Grove Cemetery.
About Diane Schofield
Diane Marie Schofield was born November 1, 1953. Her survivors included a daughter, Shawna Marie of Des Moines; her mother, Mrs. Marie Dalton of Des Moines; her father, Kenneth Dalton of Des Moines; two brothers, Robert and Martin, both of Des Moines; a half brother, Kenneth Valadez of Des Moines; and a sister, Twyla Dalton of Des Moines.
Diane was buried at McDivitt Grove Cemetery in Urbandale in Polk County. The top of her gravestone reads “Beloved Mommy.”
Her case remains unsolved.
If you have any information regarding the unsolved murder of Diane Marie Schofield, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864.
- Des Moines Police Department, correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
- Find a Grave Memorial
- “Report more than 70 unsolved murders in Iowa,” Des Moines Register, Jan. 25, 1976
- “Diane Schofield Obituary,” Des Moines Register
- “Find Victim was Alive 3 Days Earlier,” Des Moines Register, July 19, 1975
- “Hear D.M. slaying victim was free-lance masseuse,” Des Moines Register, July 15, 1975
- “Few Leads in Death Probe,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 12, 1975
- “Seek Motive in Slaying of D.M. Woman,” Des Moines Register, July 12, 1975
- “D.M. Woman’s Body Found in Trunk of Car: Was Stranged; hands, feet tied,” Des Moines Register, July 11, 1975
- “Find woman’s decomposed body in trunk,” Ames Daily Tribune, July 11, 1975
Copyright © 2013 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.