Paula Jean Oberbroeckling

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling (Courtesy photo Susan Taylor Chehak)

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling

Homicide

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling
18 YOA
116 10th St. N.W.
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
July 11, 1970

Recent Updates

In 2012, noted author Susan Taylor Chehak published a website — www.whathappenedtopaula.com — based on this cold case, in an effort to crowdsource an independent investigation by posting there the entire police file, autopsy, FBI reports and other documents, as well as news articles, photographs, and interviews with people who were related to or knew Paula.

what-happened-to-paula-coverChehak’s new ebook — What Happened to Paula: The Anatomy of a True Crime, published Feb. 25, 2014 on Amazon — invites readers to join this collaborative investigation. The ebook presents the website material in an accessible and easily navigational format and will automatically show “update the book” notifications for Kindle readers as Chehak adds further details.

All proceeds from book sales go toward funding the ongoing investigation.

Defrosting Cold Cases, a website established by Alice de Sturler, features Oberbroeckling’s unsolved murder as the March 2014 Case of the Month.


Paula Jean Oberbroeckling, 18, disappeared after leaving her 116 10th St. NW Cedar Rapids residence in the early morning hours on Saturday, July 11, 1970.

Oberbroeckling — a recent Washington High School graduate who taught a class for developmentally disabled children at Younkers and shared the 10th street residence with her friend, Debbie Kellogg — had gone out on a date Friday night with boyfriend Lonnie Bell. The two returned together to the 10th St. residence, where they argued.

Linn CountyLinn County in Iowa
Cedar Rapids in Linn County
Cedar Rapids in Linn County

Kellogg said that after Bell left, Oberbroeckling said she needed to go out again and asked to borrow Kellogg’s vehicle, saying she’d be right back.

She never returned.

The following day, Kellogg’s car was found near the Eagle supermarket on 14th Street SE, two miles east of where Kellogg and Oberbroeckling lived.

Oberbroeckling’s grandmother, Vera Oberbroeckling, door-knocked in the neighborhood where Kellogg’s car was found, while police conducted extensive searches and involved the media in efforts to locate the teen.

Cedar Rapids police officer C. Smith spoke with Oberbroeckling’s mother, Carol Oberbroeckling, at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, 1970, in reference to the missing person report Mrs. Oberbroeckling had filed.

Mrs. Oberbroeckling told Officer Smith that Paula had been somewhat upset because she thought she was about 1-1/2 months pregnant and felt Bell was trying to ditch her.

Mrs. Oberbroeckling also stated that her daughter had previously had a colored boyfriend by the name of Robert Williams, but that they’d broken up some time ago. She said a friend told her she’d seen Paul in “the loop” area shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, and that Paula was having car trouble at the time. Paula was alone at the time, though a man was assisting her in getting the car going, Mrs. Oberbroeckling told Smith.

Lonnie Bell, who was present during the interview with Mrs. Oberbroeckling, told police Paula had been writing to a colored subject by the name of John Strayhorn, who lived at the Hawthorne Hills apartments. Officer Smith visited the Hawthorne Hills apartments that same day and was told by the manager that no one named John Strayhorn rented an apartment there. The manager said it was possible Strayhorn lived with someone else there.

Police followed up on hundreds of leads, and four months after Oberbroeckling’s disappearance, finally got a break in the case; it was not the break they’d hoped to receive.

Body Found, Foul Play Suspected

Oberbroeckling’s remains — though not immediately identified due to decomposition — were found on Sunday, November 29, 1970.

According to a Gazette article dated November 30, 1970, George Junttila of 724 19th St. SE and his two sons, Dale, 14, and David, 11, found the body while walking along the railroad tracks on Otis Road across from the sewage treatment plant.

Police said the body was found draped around a steel pin in the ground, which in the past probably had been used for a power pole guy wire. Had the body not been draped around the pin, it could have washed down to the road and been discovered sooner, police said.

Some personal items found around the body, such as clothing, and earth around the body, were being sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for examination, said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Frank Matias.

Despite a number of theories about Oberbroeckling’s death, her case remains unsolved.

Courtesy photo Gail Wenhardt, findagrave.com
Paula’s gravestone in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
About Paula Oberbroeckling

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling was born in Cedar Rapids on February 25, 1952 to James J. and Carol (Burks) Oberbroeckling.

She graduated from Washington High School in 1970.

She was survived by her mother, Carol Oberbroeckling, 2025 G Avenue NE; her father, James J. Oberbroeckling, Grand Junction, Colo.; a sister, Lynn Marie Greve, Cedar Rapids; three brothers, Todd, Timothy and Christopher, all at home, and her grandmothers, Vera Oberbroeckling and Mrs. Frank Zachar, both of Cedar Rapids.

Services were held at 11 a.m. Monday, December 7, 1970, at  St. Matthew’s Church, with the Rev. Louis V. McDonough officiating. Burial was at Mount Calvary cemetery. There were no visitation services. Stewart Funeral Home handled arrangements.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Paula Oberbroeckling’s unsolved murder, please contact the Cedar Rapids Police Department at 319-286-5375, the Linn County Crime Stoppers Anonymous Tip Line at 1-800-CR-CRIME, or Iowa Cold Cases via our Contact form.

Sources:
  • Cedar Rapids Police Department
  • Linn County Crime Stoppers
  • What Happened to Paula” website by author Susan Taylor Chehak
  • Case of the Month: Paula Oberbroeckling,” by Alice de Sturler, Defrosting Cold Cases, March 1, 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial
  • “Identify Body as C.R. Girl,” Des Moines Register, December 7, 1970
  • “Report Nothing Found in Area of Body’s Discovery,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 6, 1970
  • “Miss Oberbroeckling Funeral Is Monday,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 5, 1970
  • “Identify Body as girl from Cedar Rapids,” Ames Daily Tribune, December 2, 1970
  • “Body that of Girl Missing Four Months,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 1, 1970
  • “Body Found: ‘Foul Play’ Police Say,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 30, 1970

 

Copyright © 2014 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Add a Comment

14 Responses to Paula Oberbroeckling

  1. lynn oberbroeckling greve says:

    Thank you for listing my sister on this website. My family has always been frustrated by the fact that every single time “cold cases” are talked about in the media my sister’s case is never mentioned. NEVER!! I did not expect it to be listed on this website. The police told us in 1970 that her case would always be considered an open case but I doubted that. I doubt the new cold case squad will look into this case but I would love to find out what happened to her. If you have any information regarding her case, I would love to hear from you.
    Thank you!

    • Larry Martin says:

      Lyn, Don’t know if you remember me (you once chewed me out for smoking my tires at washington parking lot) I went out with Paula a couple times and thought a lot of her. Never got the chance to tell you and your family how sorry I felt when her body was found so I’m taking the time to let you know now. I hope who ever did this is brought to justice or is all ready dead and rotting in hell. Best regards Larry

  2. Paul Marks says:

    Lynn,

    As a matter of fact there is a writer, Susan Chehak, who has been investigating this case for many years. Susan grew up in Cedar Rapids and is quite serious in her investigation. She has interviewed police officers assigned to the case, reviewed case files, interviewed neighbors and possible witnesses and has developed interesting theories. Feel free to contact me at daddyofduke@aol.com and I will get you in contact with her.

  3. gene says:

    Was Paula simply going out to retrieve something from the car, or would she have gone to a store in her nightgown? I think someone in the general area of the apartment complex may have kidnapped her.

    • lynn oberbroeckling greve says:

      Paula was not wearing a nightgown. That is something the police first stated and the media ran with it. She had on a powder blue “bra dress”. It was a short dress with a built in bra. They had just become fashionable. I had worn that dress myself as we always shared out clothes.

  4. Jan says:

    This case was so horrifying and sad. My brother was a friend of hers and we were very distraught when we found out she was dead. Though I moved away from Cedar Rapids 35 years ago, I’ve never forgotten. I assumed that all leads had been investigated, but seems I was told details that were never known. The source of the info was not always reliable but what she told me may be very relevant indeed. My best friend’s sister told me she knew the name of the murderer and the name of at least one guy who helped assault her. I never forgot those names. It seems people who were questioned, including this person, and Ms Kellogg did not reveal everything they knew. I am hoping my info may lead to some resolution. I hope so.

  5. Since we went public with the website about Paula Oberbroeckling (www.whathappenedtopaula.com), a lot of people have been asking us about Lonnie Bell. We have not been able to talk to him and have lost contact information for him. We have tracked him to a woman who seems to be (or have been) his wife. Her maiden name was Beverly Jean Fishel. We gather that she grew up in Marion and it looks like she was Miss Cedar Rapids in 1963 (she was called Jeanie Fishel then). In 1966 she married Ronald Albert Sheperd.

    Lonnie is sometimes referred to as Lonnie A. Fishel. He and Beverly were married in 1981.

    If you know Lonnie, or know how we can reach him, please let us know! We’d love to talk to him and get his version of what happened to Paula.

  6. Bob says:

    Instant Checkmate lists several C.R. addresses for a Lonnie A. Bell, born 10/30/48. I’m
    sure the authorities are aware of them.

  7. RJ Riley says:

    I tracked him down a couple months ago–he doesn’t want to talk about it– Susan Chehak wrote him a letter-don’t know if he has responded…

  8. dustin says:

    does anyone know where Lonnie Allen Bell live at

  9. Kelsey says:

    I know it’s probably a long shot and someone may have brought it up before…is there ANY possibility that this and the Michelle Martinko case could be related? They were both beautiful blondes, 18 years old, mentions of the mall in each case, both out alone at night and both body’s discovered in Cedar Rapids. Though the murders happened 10 years apart, both are still unsolved with little/no leads. Just my thoughts after reading through both pages. What about that security guard I read about on the ‘what happened to Paula’ website…he supposedly helped her get her car started the night she went missing and I remember reading somewhere there was question about the security guard working at Westdale the night Michelle was killed. Could it be the same guy? Though both murders happened long before I was born, it scares me to think the monster(s) who did something SO horrible could still be living among us. Praying for the families and victims-hope they get the justice they deserve!! <3

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