At approximately 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 27, 1995, CBS affiliate KIMT-TV morning and noon anchor woman and producer Jodi Sue Huisentruit was abducted from the parking lot of her apartment located at 600 North Kentucky Avenue in Mason City, Iowa.
Huisentruit — a St. Cloud State University graduate — usually arrived at work between 3 and 4 a.m., and when she hadn’t arrived by 4:00 a.m., her producer, Amy Kuns, called her. Huisentruit answered the phone, told Kuns she had overslept, and stated she’d be at the station shortly. Nothing in Huisentruit’s tone of voice indicated any undue stress.
The 27-year-old petite anchor was never heard from again.
When Huisentruit still hadn’t arrived at work by 7:00 a.m., Kuns became alarmed and called Mason City police, asking them to check on Jodi’s well being.
Upon their arrival, officers discovered a number of Huisentruit’s personal possessions strewn about the parking lot, including Jodi’s purse, hair spray, hair dryer, and a pair of red high-heeled shoes. Huisentruit usually carried these items to and from work in a canvas tote bag.
The key to Huisentruit’s vehicle was found bent inside the lock on the driver’s side door. Mason City Police Lt. Frank Stearns said drag marks were visible on the rain-soaked pavement.
Interviews with neighbors revealed that screams had been heard, but the apartment building was located near a campground and the screams were dismissed as nothing more than noisy campers.
Stearns believes the crime was committed by a single individual — likely one who knew Huisentruit. Prior to joining KIMT, the Minnesota native had worked briefly as a flight attendant.
Jodi’s canvas tote bag — in which she often carried her notebooks and computer diskettes — was not found at the scene and has never been located.
Nearly Two Decades, Thousands of Tips
In the years following her disappearance, investigators followed up on thousands of tips and interviewed more than 1,000 people.
In June 2008, a copy of Jodi’s personal journal was sent anonymously to a Mason City Globe Gazette reporter. The journal contained more than 80 pages where Huisentruit spelled out her personal goals.
In a KIMT-TV story airing June 23, 2008, Mason City Police Chief Mike Lashbrook confirmed the copy of the journal was real and the same copy given to police, the DCI and FBI. Further investigation revealed a former police chief’s wife had sent the copy to the Globe Gazette.
JoAnn Nathe, Huisentruit’s sister, told FoxNews.com she believed the perpetrator either knew Jodi personally or had stalked her because the individual was privy to her sister’s early-morning schedule.
“There was no indication of a stalker whatsoever,” said Stearns in the Fox News story dated June 11, 2013.
Huisentruit was legally declared dead in May 2001, and though names of several persons of interest emerged, one in particular remains on police radar. Said Fox News:
John Vansice, a neighbor and friend of Huisentruit’s, immediately came forward and said he was the last person to see the news anchor alive, according to police. Vansice, who was much older than Huisentruit, told detectives that she had visited his apartment the night before, and that the two had watched a video Vansice filmed of Huisentruit’s birthday part just weeks earlier. Vansice denied any connection to the abduction and has since moved from Iowa to Phoenix, Ariz. He could not be reached when contacted by FoxNews.com.
“To this day, he [Vansice] is still a person of interest,” Stearns said.
Courtesy photo Globe Gazette
Retired computer programmer and researcher Jim Feldhaus spent nearly two decades tracking down leads in Huisentruit’s case.
Nathe believed Vansice was “fixated” on her sister, even though Jodi had never once mentioned his name to her.
Nathe told Fox News she also isn’t convinced that only one person was responsible for the crime. Nathe said her sister’s landlord reported hearing “two different male voices” in the parking lot at the time and the sound of a loud muffler.
Jim Feldhaus — a Canistota, S.D. retired computer programmer for the University of South Dakota at Brookings and a former researcher for 3M in Minnesota — spent nearly 18 years voluntarily interviewing potential suspects and tracking down information on Huisentruit’s case.
Feldhaus, a U.S. Army veteran with degrees in chemistry and computer science, tipped off law enforcement officials and the media whenever he uncovered new tips or leads, and in 2005 told the Globe Gazette the case represented an “obsession” he wanted to solve.
Feldhaus, 79, passed away Oct. 10, 2013 at a Sioux Falls hospice.
The Huisentruit File: Ep. 1, The Case — Courtesy YouTube
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Huisentruit’s disappearance was one of approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA technology.
Although federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI continues to assign agents to investigate cold cases as new leads develop or as technological advances allow for additional forensic testing of original evidence.
The DCI remains committed to the resolution of Iowa’s cold cases and will continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.
Dental information and charting is available and entered in Huisentruit’s case.
A DNA sample has been submitted and tests are complete.
Bednar offers detailed crime theories in her book about Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance.
Bednar, who spent two decades in the broadcast news industry, interviewed Huisentruit’s colleagues, her friends and acquaintances in Mason City, family members and friends, law enforcement officials, and a number of other sources from Minnesota to Iowa.
The book presents several detailed crime theories regarding those considered persons of interest, and explores Huisentruit’s connection to other unsolved Iowa murders.
“Dead Air” has been described as “old-style true crime journalism at its best.”
While the Mason City community continues to mark the anniversary of Huisentruit’s disappearance every year, police await the one solid tip they need to bring to an end the city’s most infamous cold case.
About Jodi Huisentruit
Jodi Sue Huisentruit was born June 5, 1968, to Imogene L. “Jane” (Anderson) and Maurice Huisentruit, and grew up in Long Prairie, Minnesota.
She twice was a member of the state champion high school golf team in Long Prairie.
She graduated from St. Cloud State University, and worked briefly at an Alexandria television station before moving to Mason City to work for CBS affiliate KIMT-TV. There, she worked as a morning and noon news anchor and producer between 3 and 4 a.m.
She was abducted from her Mason City apartment’s parking lot at 600 North Kentucky Avenue on Tuesday morning, June 27, 1995, while preparing to leave for work. Her disappearance prompted one of the largest manhunts in Iowa history, with her case featured on several national television programs, including America’s Most Wanted, Unsolved Mysteries, 20/20, Nancy Grace, Psychic Detectives and numerous other talk shows.
Jodi’s mother, Jane Huisentruit, died Dec. 9, 2014 (Courtesy WJON)
In addition to her mother, she was survived by two sisters: JoAnn Nathe of Sauk Center; Jill Lettau, and many other loved ones.
Her father preceded her in death in 1982.
Jodi was legally declared dead in May 2001.
Her mother, Imogene L. “Jane” Huisentruit, died Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, at CentraCare Health Systems in Long Prairie without ever discovering what happened to her daughter.
She was 91 years old.
A January 1994 journal entry Jodi wrote the year before she went missing shined a beaming light into a world where she’d hoped to make a difference. Her entry read:
“Live with passion daily. Be passionate in everyday life. Live the way I want to live — be generous, kind.”~ January 1994 excerpt from Jodi Huisentruit’s personal journal
Statement from Lt. Frank Stearns, Mason City Police Department
The Iowa Cold Cases website (and other sites featuring Ms. Huisentruit’s case) has received multiple e-mails and correspondence from James L. McIntyre, who continues to insist that Ms. Huisentruit’s body was recovered during the week of September 29 – October 1, 1997, and that her remains are in the care of Dr. David L. Frederickson MD ME in the Stearns County Medical Examiner’s office in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Mr. McIntyre also has alleged that Ms. Huisentruit was murdered by Keith Dwayne Nelson.
Lieutenant Frank Stearns, the Criminal Investigations Division Commander for the Mason City Police Department has released an official statement to Iowa Cold Cases that should put Mr. McIntyre’s false allegations to rest once and for all.
The Mason City Police Department has checked into Mr. McIntyer’s allegations on several occasions, and we have found that none of what he is alleging is true. I have asked him to stop making these allegations but he continues to do so.
Any further allegations Mr. McIntyre posts on this website will be promptly deleted.
If you have any information concerning Jodi Huisentruit’s unsolved disappearance please contact Lt. Frank Stearns at the Mason City Police Department at (641) 421-3001.
An in-depth website dedicated to solving Jodi’s case may be found at www.findjodi.com.