Wapello County in Iowa
Cold Cases in Wapello County, Iowa
*Please Note: The cases listed below are within Wapello County but may fall under a city police department’s jurisdiction. They are included here for cross-reference purposes. More specific information may be found on each victim’s individual page.
James Lewis Chamberlain
Beneath Wabash Railroad Trestle
May 25, 1893
On Thursday, May 25, 1893, James Chamberlain, a carpenter who lived on Ottumwa’s south side, was struck by a blow to the head and found lying in mud and water beneath the Wabash Railroad trestle in the city’s old Richmond section. He died four days later on May 29.
Billy Lee Clark
August 1, 1975
Billy Lee Clark was shot to death on August 1, 1975. Police never closed the case, though they later said they think Clark’s killer died shortly after the murder.
Robert Lee Ruby
Robert Lee Ruby
Bidwell Coal Mine
January 11, 1936
Robert Ruby, a 54-year-old Blakesburg miner, fell 87 feet to his death on Saturday, January 11, 1936, down the shaft of the Bidwell Fuel Co. mine on the Henry Oswalt farm, one mile south of Christiansburg.
John Robert Hill
Case # 76-00925
November 22, 1976
On Monday, November 22, 1976, two young men found John Robert Hill, 51, lying face down at the Ottumwa Launderette that Hill owned and operated. Hill was stabbed 21 times and shot.
John Franklin Sr.
John Franklin, Sr., 35, and Michelle Franklin, 22
January 3, 1978
John Franklin, Sr., 35, a central Iowa factory worker, and his 22-year-old wife Michelle were shot to death in their Eddyville, Iowa, home on Tuesday, January 3, 1978, in what officials called a double homicide. Michelle’s mother, Willa Mae Brower, discovered the bodies the following morning.
Francis Jordon, Sr.
Francis F. Jordon, Sr.
Cliffland Park area
July 12, 1978
In the early morning hours on Wednesday, July 12, 1978, Francis Jordon was killed after two men knocked on his door saying they had car trouble and needed help. Jordon’s son later found his father’s body thrown over the bank beside the Des Moines River out across Cliffland Park. The 42-year-old Jordon had been brutally beaten to death.
August 12, 1980
Mrs. Helen Morrow was found lying on a bed in a first floor room of her fire-ravaged two-story home in Eldon, IA, on August 12, 1980. An autopsy report showed she died of smoke inhalation.
Melvin R. Adams
South of Agency, IA
February 13, 1983
On February 13, 1983, 55-year-old Melvin Royale “Mez” Adams was killed with a sharp instrument in a cabin near the Cliffland Bridge over the Des Moines River in Wappelo County south of Agency.
Age at Report: 56
Missing From: Blakesburg, IA
Date Reported Missing: February 15, 1999
Dennison Stookesberry was reported missing to the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office in Ottumwa on February 15, 1999, after last being seen on Feb. 8. He left behind his four dogs, medication to treat his diabetes and heart problems, and his dinner still in the microwave oven. Authorities believe Stookesberry is deceased, and foul play is suspected in his disappearance.
Double Homicide — ARRESTS MADE
Nathan David Messer, 20
Seth Anderson, 22
11612 140th Street
March 5, 2006
Nathan Messer, 20, and Seth Anderson, 22, were killed Sunday, March 5, 2006 when arsonists started a fire inside a rural Wapello County home after a Saturday night party. On Jan. 25, 2016 — nearly 10 years after the double homicide — the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Wapello County Sheriff’s Office arrested Christopher Joseph Yenger, 28, of Ottumwa, and Zachary Allen Dye, 27, of Council Bluffs, and charged them with two counts of felony murder. A trial date has not yet been set.