Paula Jean Oberbroeckling

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling (Courtesy photo Susan Taylor Chehak)

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling


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 — — 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-cover-2Chehak’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.

[P]aula 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 County
Linn 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 advanced stages of 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 skeletal remains 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.

The teen’s remains were found almost intact, her ankles tied and her wrists found tied behind her back with two separate types of flexible material — one a plastic clothesline and another kind of cord.

Her pelvic bones remained intact with no injury, and officials found no visual evidence to indicate a traumatic injury nor any fetal remains.

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

Dr. Earl F. Rose conducted the autopsy and University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City, and cited “Death due to (1) soft tissue injury, (2) poisoning, (3) asphyxiation, or (4) a combination of these, cannot be excluded from the examination of the remains of the body.”

Rose also stated that if the deceased was not dead when placed in this position, death would have resulted from: respiratory embarrassment, exposure, or a combination of respiratory embarrassment developing as exposure continued and she tired.

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

Susan Taylor Chehak, who went to high school with Paula and obtained a court order from a local judge to gather the material for “For What Happened to Paula,” continues her pursuits to find truth and justice for her friend.

About Paula Oberbroeckling
Paula Oberbroeckling gravestoneCourtesy photo Gail Wenhardt,
Paula Oberbroeckling is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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 or the Linn County Crime Stoppers Anonymous Tip Line at 1-800-CR-CRIME.

  • 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
  • Autopsy Report for Paula Oberbrockling (sic), performed by Earl F. Rose, M.D., 133 Medical Laboratories, Iowa City, Iowa, November 30, 1970
  • Cedar Rapids Police Department Investigative Reports: July 15, 1970; July 16, 1970; July 17, 1970; July 18, 1970; July 21, 1970; July 22, 1970; July 23, 1970; July 28, 1970; July 29, 1970; August 11, 1970; November 29, 1970; November 30, 1970


Copyright © 2016 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


23 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:


    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 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. This is haunting. Just my opinion: I knew that there were a lot of cold cases here in Iowa but I had no idea that there were so many and it hit me hard emotionally to think about the families that have no answers, no idea of where loved ones have gone. Dead or alive the families deserve answers and we owe it to them to give it to them. Supporting our local law enforcement officials is one way of doing that — and getting the word out there. There is someone somewhere that has information, even the tinyest bit of info can crack one of these cases wide open. All of the CSI television shows in the world can’t give any comfort because a majority of them are fiction and therefore cannot supply answers to give that comfort of closing one of these cases.

  6. It’s nightmarish to me to even think about my daughter disappearing. Or my husband, brother, family, friends…I’m fortunate not to have someone I love gone with only the touchable part of them in the form of paperwork inside a file folder. Rhonda, thanks for taking a look! Anyone else reading this, hit the website link and see what I’m talking about. So many of our fellow Iowans gone, disappearing into thin air. Another reason why I kiss my husband goodbye and hello when he leaves/comes home from work, and say those three little words at bedtime — and mean it every time I say it.

  7. Since we went public with the website about Paula Oberbroeckling (, 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. dustin says:

    does anyone know where Lonnie Allen Bell live at

  11. 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

  12. amanda says:

    Did lonnie bell drive a red porsche around that time?

  13. Shane says:

    Forgive me if this question has already been posed, I’m not sure I’m caught up on all the comments, but does anyone else see a pattern here? Paula and Maureen Farley’s bodies were found within 13 months of one another, essentially just across the Cedar River from one another. Karen Streed, whose body was found just 1 month after Maureen’s, lived just a few blocks from Paula. I don’t know that there were striking similarities in the killer’s MO for each of the murders, but it seems to me this shouldn’t rule out the fact that three young women were disappeared from or found dead in essentially the same small quadrant of CR all within just over a year of one another. Anyone else share the same inkling? Or am I just the latest in a long string of serial killer conspiracists?

  14. Shane says:

    btw, when I say “disappeared from” I’m talking about Karen Streed, whose body was found in the Mill Stream near Amana, but who was last seen alive in the vicinity of 6th St and 16th Ave SW — near where she lived.

  15. Kris Starks says:

    There is a page here on Facebook dedicated to this story.

  16. Joe Greene says:

    Who ever did it is probably dead.

  17. Joao says:

    In a decade where race was fierce I do not discard some racist killing her because she was apparently dating black boys.

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *