Courtesy photo Cedar Rapids Gazette
- Sheila Jean Collins
Sheila Jean Collins
Sheila Jean Collins
Iowa State University Student
Home Residence: Evanston, Ill.
Last seen in Ames, IA
Found in Rural Colo, IA
Case # 68-00287
January 26, 1968
On Sunday, January 28, 1968, Sheila Jean Collins, 18, of Evanston, Ill., was found lying face-down in a ditch off a gravel road four miles east of Nevada, Iowa, about 20 miles east of Ames.
Miss Collins — an Iowa State University coed who was headed home for the weekend — had been strangled with a nylon cord knotted around her neck. An autopsy report by Dr. John Powers of Ames showed that a pipe incorporated into the knot may have been used as a turning mechanism.
A father and son out fox hunting near the town of Colo in Story County found Collins’ body after the son spotted a foot in the shallow ditch.
Story County in Iowa
Colo in Story County
Collins had arranged on Friday evening for a ride to her Evanston home through a bulletin board in the ISU’s Memorial Union, where students needing rides frequently posted notices. The “Going My Way?” map was divided into numbered zones, and Collins had filled out a green card, indicating she wanted a ride home. Her card stated: “I need a ride to: DeKalb, Ill., or Chicago area; Date leaving: any Friday; Phone 294-1702.”
Collins told a friend she’d expected her boyfriend, a Northern Illinois University student, to come to Ames and drive her home for the weekend. He couldn’t make it, and some time before 8 p.m. Friday, January 26, Collins received the telephone call from someone offering her the ride home.
According to reports by the Story County Sheriff’s Department, Collins told a girlfriend she’d gotten a ride “in 10 minutes” but that she didn’t know the person’s name. The caller told Collins to wait at the corner of Lincoln Way (on Highway 30) and Beech Street, the first main intersection entering the campus from the east. Collins then phoned her parents, James and Muriel Collins, to let them know she was getting a ride home. The friend said she’d helped Sheila pack and that she’d left the Elm Hall dormitory shortly thereafter.
Courtesy Des Moines Register
- This is the 3×5-inch card Sheila Collins filled in to request a ride to DeKalb, Ill., or the Chicago area. Miss Collins had a boyfriend in DeKalb.
The teen was last seen alive at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Friday standing near the heavily traveled intersection. When she failed to arrive at her parents’ home by noon on Saturday, they reported her missing.
In earlier newspaper reports, Dr. Roger Hogle of Ames and his son, Jeff, 8, said they were driving along the gravel road east of Nevada about 2 p.m. on Sunday when Jeff told his father he saw something in the ditch that looked like a foot. Hogle went back, and once he saw a body, immediately drove to Nevada to notify the sheriff.
The petite ISU freshman, described as “the quiet, studious type,” was found partly clad with her belongings nearby. Her sweat shirt was pulled up around her neck and her panties, blue jeans, purse and suitcase were found just west of her body in a plowed farm field about six feet away and appeared to have been set on the ground just over a fence.
Authorities said the position of the body when found indicated Collins had been killed elsewhere and the body later placed in the ditch. [Then] Story County sheriff Ivan Shalley said the body was found in a squatting position, resting on its knees and head. Collins’ dark woolen coat had been thrown over her body, partly covering her body and head.
Dr. William R. Bliss, the county medical examiner, said Collins had not been raped and that there was nothing to indicate sexual molestation. Still, due to how Collins’ body and clothing were found, he surmised the perpetrator had a sex deviation of some kind.
Sheila Collins had graduated from Evanston Township High School the previous June and was studying English and speech at ISU.
In addition to her parents, Sheila Collins had two younger sisters, Patricia and Lee.
If you have any information about Sheila Collins’ unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Story County Sheriff’s Office at 515-382-6566.
Sources and References:
- Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
- “Cold Case: Who Killed Sheila Jean Collins?” Ames Tribune, June 4, 2011
- “Michigan U., ISU Slaying Link Studied,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, Aug. 8, 1969
- “Questioning Slated,” The Muscatine Journal, Jan. 15, 1969
- “Iowa Grand Jurors Deplore ISU Campus ‘Moral Pollution’: Improvement Urged,” Albuquerque Journal, Dec. 30, 1968
- “Asks Regents Adopt Policies To Curb ISU Racial Forces,” The Burlington Hawkeye, Dec. 29, 1968
- “Three Iowa Slayings This Year Remain Unsolved,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 27, 1968
- “Reservoir Murder Among 3 Major Unsolved Crimes,” Iowa City Press Citizen, June 27, 1968
- “3 Recent Iowa Murders Still Unsolved: Officials Report No Progress,” Waterloo Daily Courier, June 27, 1968
- “Hope For Break In Slaying Case,” The Burlington Hawkeye, March 7, 1968
- “Six Men Working 16 Hours Daily on ISU Slaying Case,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Feb. 20, 1968
- “Clairvoyants Aid Police in Slaying,” The Des Moines Register, Feb. 9, 1968
- “No Help From FBI,” The Muscatine Journal, Feb. 1, 1968
- “Suspect Co-ed Slain by Sexual Pervert,” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 1, 1968
- “Confers with FBI in Coed Death Probe,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, Jan. 31, 1968
- “Friends Questioned in Co-ed’s Murder,” Chicago Tribune, Jan. 30, 1968
- “Leads Lacking in Slaying of Coed From Iowa State U,” The Muscatine Journal, Jan. 30, 1968
- “Seek clues in death of Iowa State coed,” Columbus Daily Telegram, Jan. 30, 1968
- “I.S.U. Coed’s Death Called ‘Sex Crime,’” Des Moines Register, Jan. 30, 1968
- “Iowa State Coed Was Strangled,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, Jan. 29, 1968
- “Heads Home, ISU Student Is Murdered,” Waterloo Daily Courier, Jan. 29, 1968
- “Evanston Girl Slain in Iowa,” Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 1968
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