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After dinner on Tuesday, August 31, 1954, 8-year-old Jimmy Bremmers went to his friend Joey Hamel’s house two doors down from the Bremmers home on Sioux City’s west side. Jimmy’s parents had gone to lay brick for the basement of their new home, and though Jimmy usually helped, this night he’d stayed behind to go visit his friend.
Jimmy suffered from a speech impediment and didn’t have a lot of close friends; his closest companion was his small black and white dog named Specks.
At 8 p.m., just as Life with Father began to air on television, Jimmy, along with Joey’s cousin Steve Counterman, 13, left the Hamel house to head for their respective homes. When Steve started up a hill for his home, he looked back and saw Jimmy standing alone near a tree by the Hamel’s porch. It was the last time anyone saw Jimmy Bremmers alive.
On Thursday, September 2, Ernest Triplett — an itinerant music salesman for Flood Music in Sioux City — was questioned by police and then taken into custody. On Thursday, September 16, Ernest Triplett volunteered to be committed to the Mental Health Institute at Cherokee. There, he received a number of drugs administered by Dr. Anthony Sainz.
A county crew building a snow fence in a pasture north of Sioux City stumbled upon Jimmy’s remains September 29. The young boy had been decapitated, and his crushed skull lay several feet away from his upper decomposed body. Both his hands were missing.
On October 5, 1954, Ernest Triplett appeared before the Woodbury County Insanity Commission with no legal representation present and was involuntarily committed to the Cherokee mental hospital.
The following day, doctors injected Triplett with 80 mg of the amphetamine Desoxyn and three grains of the barbiturate Seconal, even though Triplett hadn’t eaten since the previous day. By days end, Triplett confessed to killing Jimmy Bremmers.
Ernest Triplett was formally charged with Jimmy Bremmers’ murder on March 3, 1955.
On June 17, 1955, a jury found Triplett guilty of murder in the second degree and returned him to the Plymouth County Jail to await sentencing.
Triplett was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Fort Madison State Penitentiary on July 7, 1955, and arrived at the prison just before midnight.
Three nights after Triplett entered the Fort Madison Penitentiary, 22-month-old Donna Sue Davis was abducted from her crib on Sioux City’s west side. Her battered body was found the following day in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
Seventeen years later, University of Iowa law professor Robert Bartels represented Ernest Triplett in legal proceedings to challenge Triplett’s conviction in the Jimmy Bremmers murder.
On October 17, 1972, Ernest Triplett’s conviction was overturned and he was released from prison the following day.
No other individuals have been charged in Jimmy Bremmers’ murder.