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On Friday, September 15, 1989, a child playing by the Cedar River told nearby adults he had found a mannequin or body in the river. When police were notified at 6:40 p.m. that day, they discovered the body of Jeffery “Jo Jo” Zolliecoffer about a half-mile north of Waterloo’s business district.
Zolliecoffer, 23, had been shot three times, including a shotgun blast to the back of the head. His body had been wrapped in a quilted blanket, secured with copper wiring, and looped through two cement blocks.
Waterloo police believe it took several days for his body to rise from the river.
Zolliecoffer’s case went back eight days to when he was last seen late Thursday evening, September 7, 1989, at Goodies II, a bar formerly located in the 100 block of Sumner Street.
There were conflicting reports of whether Zolliecoffer left the bar on his own will or was forced out by several men; it was the last known time anyone ever saw Zolliecoffer alive. He was reported missing September 9, 1989.
A September 16 autopsy performed by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Peter Stevens of the State Medical Examiner’s Office determined Zolliecoffer died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Waterloo Police Sgt. Lyle Ames ruled the death a homicide.
Police have followed up on many leads over the years but have not made an arrest.
Some family members believe the murder was drug related while other members advised Zolliecoffer was against anyone who used drugs. To this day, the family hopes a new lead will come in and provide closure after all these years.
Almost 25 years after Jo Jo’s body was pulled from the river, a call to his family from the newly formed Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers provided the family with renewed hope that justice would one day be served.
“With crime stoppers coming back in, re-opening the case, we got our hopes back up as to getting Jo Jo some peace,” Zolliecoffer’s brother, Willie Lumpkin, told CBS 2/FOX 28 news in a story that aired June 6, 2013.
Lumpkin told CBS/FOX that when his brother initially disappeared, the family thought they’d eventually find him “beat up or something,” but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
“We just hope a lot more people will come forward and get with crime stoppers and help us get this case solved,” Lumpkin said in the interview.
Jeffery Zolliecoffer was born November 3, 1965, and attended Waterloo schools.
Anyone with information about the cold case murder of Jeffery “Jo Jo” Zolliecoffer is asked to call the Waterloo Police Department at 319-291-4340 ext. 3, or Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers at 855-300-TIPS (8477).
Anyone with information leading to an arrest is eligible for a $1,000 reward.
You may also submit tips anonymously through the Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers Confidential Web Tip Information System.