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Robert M. Clary, 48, was shot in the chest at his Clinton, Iowa, mobile home sometime in the early morning hours on Wednesday, September 29, 1982.
Clary, a U.S. Army veteran who’d served in Korea, was twice-divorced and lived alone at the rented 419-1/2 4th Avenue South trailer parked next door to landlord Jackie Chadwick’s home.
According to a Clinton Herald article published Sept. 30, 1982, Chadwick said she noticed Clary’s door ajar early Wednesday morning and went to check on him. Inside, she found Clary’s fully-clothed body on the floor next to a blood-soaked chair and quickly notified the Clinton Police Department.
Clinton police said the death was reported about 7:30 a.m.
Chadwick told investigating officers she’d heard nothing during the night, though some neighbors reported having heard what they thought were gunshots around 5 a.m.
Clinton police Capt. Russell Bentley said there was no sign of any struggle at the crime scene, and investigators ruled out robbery as a motive.
Clinton police Chief Robert Jones, who’d grown up in the same neighborhood as Clary, had hung out with Clary when the two were younger but said they’d gone their separate ways as adults. Clary had most recently worked construction jobs but was currently unemployed.
After examining the crime scene, Jones asked the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to assist with the investigation.
Clary’s longtime friends and neighbors Robert and Linda Baughman told the Clinton Herald they believed their friend’s murder may be connected to a married woman he’d been dating. The couple allegedly had fought at a party three days before Clary’s murder, but Jones called the incident in question “nothing of any spectacular proportions.”
On Tuesday, September 28, Clary had cashed an unemployment check in the amount of $83 and called the Davenport Union Hall to inquire about pipefitting work. He’d gone to Roy’s Place, a local Clinton tavern, about 7:30 p.m. and had two beers before telling friends he was going to go home to sleep but that he would be back later.
Clary never returned and his friends learned of his murder the following day.
Clinton County Medical Examiner Salvador Borja placed Clary’s time of death as approximately 5 a.m. on Wednesday, September 29.
When the DCI established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Clary’s case was one of approximately 150 listed on the Cold Case Unit’s 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.
Robert Clary’s unsolved murder is under the jurisdiction of the Clinton Police Department, where Clary’s files are maintained, (Ret.) Clinton police Captain Randy Meier told Iowa Cold Cases on June 3, 2014. Meier served as commander for the department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Robert M. Clary was born in Clinton, Iowa on June 6, 1934, to Kenneth and Carmella (Spain) Clary.
He served as a Specialist 3rd Class with the US Army during the Korean Conflict.
He married Doris Isabelle Luce on Nov. 26, 1955, and couple had six children: Robert, Shawn, Bryan, Stephen, Cindy, and Rose. The couple divorced in 1967.
Clary later remarried, but he and his second wife, Sandra, divorced in April 1982. He maintained amicable relationships with both ex-wives.
Robert Clary was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa.