Jane Ellen Wakefield
Jane Ellen Wakefield
Missing Person, Presumed Homicide
Jane Ellen Wakefield
Age at Report: 26
Date of Birth: Nov. 19, 1948
Maiden Name: Hallberg
Missing From: Iowa City, IA
Height: 5′ 2″
Dental: Missing Tooth #14
NCIC Number: M-703329643
Reported Missing: September 8, 1975
Jane Wakefield was last seen on September 5, 1975, while bicycling with friends in the north section of Iowa City, Iowa. Some reports say she was last seen at her mobile home at the Bon-Aire Mobile Home Lodge in Iowa City on Sept. 9, 1975.
Wakefield attended Morningside College in Sioux City before transferring to the University of Iowa, where she graduated in 1970. She was employed as a teacher at Penn Elementary School in North Liberty, Iowa, in 1975, and was reported missing on Sept. 8, 1975, by Penn Elementary School principal Larry Sharp when she did not show up for work.
Initially, it was thought she had left with a religious cult that was active in the area, but her family did not believe she would have joined a cult. When investigators searched the cult’s camp they found no sign of Wakefield, and the theory was thus discredited.
- These maps show where Jane Wakefield disappeared in Sept. 1975, where Denise Fraley vanished in Sept. 1982 and where Lynn Schuller went missing in Aug. 1972. All three women were in volatile marriages with divorce proceedings pending. Detectives are certain all three were murdered, and though they’ve long had a prime suspect in each case, have never been able to find enough evidence to convince a prosecutor to charge any of the suspects with murder. (Maps courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Wakefield was separated from her husband, John A. Wakefield, in 1975; she had filed for divorce about six months before she vanished and was romantically involved with another man.
The day of her disappearance, she went on a bicycle ride with friends. A neighbor spoke to her after she returned to her home, and said she was behaving normally. Late that evening, one of Wakefield’s neighbors heard someone yelling or screaming, but did not investigate the noises. Wakefield was discovered missing the next day.
Wakefield’s Fiat was found parked in its assigned space and her bicycle was locked to a yard lamp. Inside her residence everything seemed to be in order. Investigators believe she had recently taken a shower before her disappearance.
Shortly after Wakefield vanished, a series of lie detector tests narrowed the list of suspects. One informant told police that Wakefield had been murdered and her body cremated and scattered along Interstate 80. The informant passed a lie detector test, but his information never was confirmed. One major suspect, however, refused to take such a test and questioned the validity of such tests.
On Sept. 10, 1975, Iowa City police drained two city lagoons near the victim’s trailer court but uncovered no evidence pertaining to the case.
In January 1976, armed with search warrants, police went to an Iowa City tavern where the suspect worked, and subsequently searched an Iowa City apartment house and a billiard parlor, both of which were managed by Wakefield’s estranged husband, John. They removed bone fragments, a piece of metal believed to be a tooth filling, and five vacuum cleaners from his property.
Ashes sifted from an incinerator at the apartment in question were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Laboratory in Des Moines; lab analysis of bone fragments found in the incinerator were found to be inconclusive.
A stretch of 1-80 north of Iowa City also was searched by some 20 officers.
Authorities have identified a prime suspect in Wakefield’s disappearance, but the individual has never been charged due to insufficient evidence.
Although Wakefield is officially considered missing under suspicious circumstances, detectives are certain she was murdered.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact the Iowa City Police Department at 319-356-5275 or Lt. Sid Jackson at 319-356-5276.
Information may be submitted on an anonymous basis.
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