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GONE COLD: EXPLORING IOWA’S UNSOLVED MURDERS

An ongoing series, published statewide, as part of a partnership between Iowa Cold Cases, the Iowa Newspaper Association, and participating newspapers.

Click or tap on any story title to read the full referenced article.

Gone Cold: Earl Thelander, killed in 2007

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

September 1, 2015 | Des Moines Register

Earl Thelander sustained second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body in an Aug. 28, 2007, explosion caused by copper thieves. The thieves had stripped propane gas lines from a country home that Earl and his wife Hope had been renovating.

Full Story


Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders…a statewide newspaper project

August 27, 2015 | Boone News Republican

Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders is a year-long collaborative effort by Iowa news organizations to revisit some of the most brutal and mystifying homicides in Iowa’s history.

Beginning today and in the weeks following, we’ll share information about many of the state’s 438 unsolved homicides.

It is our hope that by sharing these stories with a broad audience, justice will come for some of these victims.

Victims like Brown University graduate Adam Lack, who was murdered on the night of July 13, 2008 in Nora Springs, his family’s second casualty in their fight for clean water. And realtor Dorothy Miller, who on Aug. 18, 1969, was raped and stabbed while showing an unoccupied house in Burlington.

Each week for the next year, Iowa news organizations will explore cold cases – those that law enforcement no longer has any clues on which to follow up. A case can go cold weeks, months or even years after the death.

And it can be reopened if new evidence is introduced. There is no statute of limitations on murder.


Gone Cold: Lance DeWoody, killed in 1985

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 16, 2015 | Des Moines Register

Lance Lee DeWoody of North Liberty was shot in the head and neck at a picnic shelter on the north side of the University of Iowa’s Oakdale campus in Coralville sometime between late Monday night, Aug. 12, 1985, and early the next morning. Oakdale campus employees found DeWoody’s body shortly after sunrise Aug. 13, 1985, near the campus’ general hospital parking lot. His pickup was found parked about 70 yards away.

Full Story


No weapon, little info following 1985 shooting of North Liberty man

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 16, 2015 | Iowa Newspaper Association

Lance Lee DeWoody of North Liberty was shot in the head and neck at a picnic shelter on the north side of the University of Iowa’s Oakdale campus in Coralville sometime between late Monday night, Aug. 12, 1985, and early Tuesday morning.

He was 22.

Oakdale campus employees found DeWoody’s body shortly after sunrise Tuesday near the campus’ general hospital parking lot. His pickup was found parked about 70 yards away.

His murder stumped authorities. Family members said he didn’t have any enemies, and officials ruled out robbery as a motive. No murder weapon was found at the crime scene.

Full Story


Keeping cold cases alive: For a 1980 murder, investigators reach out to retired officers

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 16, 2015 | by Lee Hermiston, The Gazette

Rose Burkert

Rose Burkert

IOWA COUNTY — Iowa County Sheriff Rob Rotter was just 12 years old when a housekeeper at the Amana Holiday Inn found the bodies of Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison inside the hotel.

Roger Atkison

Roger Atkison

As the case approaches its 35th anniversary, on Sept. 12, Rotter said that the case is cold but not closed.

“I can say a little something goes into that case file every year,” he said. “Actually the Division of Criminal Investigation and my office will be having a meeting here, probably in August, to review that case again.”

Full Story


Cold cases never close for Ames police

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 15, 2015 | by Grayson Schmidt, The Ames Tribune

As Aaron Marr frantically paced around the living room of his Ames home on the evening of Sept. 22, 2007, no one in the room could have anticipated that he would be dead within hours, or that his case would remain an unsolved mystery to this day.

There are nine cold cases in Story County, according to iowacoldcases.org, two of which are missing person cases, the other seven are all homicides. This look at unsolved cases in Story County is part of a statewide project initiated by the Iowa Newspaper Association to keep attention on the state’s 438 unsolved murders, and 109 missing persons cases.

For the police officers who investigated them, the cold cases as they are commonly called, continue to haunt them years later.

Full Story


News Quiz: Iowa’s Unsolved Murders

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 14, 2015 | IowaWatch.org

The term “cold case” doesn’t always sit well with law enforcement officials who are seeking and following leads in a criminal investigation. The reason: they still are investigating, for example a murder, but while they have not solved the case they also are not letting on a pile of work gather dust. What guidelines exist for determining whether a criminal case is a “cold case?”

Full Story


Gone Gold: Lance DeWoody, killed in 1985

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 12, 2015 | The Des Moines Register

Lance Lee DeWoody of North Liberty was shot in the head and neck at a picnic shelter on the north side of the University of Iowa’s Oakdale campus in Coralville sometime between late Monday night, Aug. 12, 1985, and early the next morning. Oakdale campus employees found DeWoody’s body shortly after sunrise Aug. 13, 1985, near the campus’ general hospital parking lot. His pickup was found parked about 70 yards away.

Full Story


We had ourselves one heck of a July

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 6, 2015 | The New Hampton Tribune

A tip of the hat …

To the Iowa Newspaper Association for bringing scores of cold cases back into the public limelight with its “Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s Unsolved Murders.” We hope this year-long series, which we at the Tribune are taking part in, will bring some much-needed closure to at least a few of these cases.

Full Story


Gone Gold: 20th anniversary of Des Moines woman’s death approaches

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 3, 2015 | globegazette.com | by Iowa Newspaper Association

Connie Bodensteiner

Connie Bodensteiner

On Aug. 8, 1995, Connie Jo Choate Bodensteiner was found locked in a basement storage bin at a south-side Des Moines apartment complex.

An autopsy showed the 24-year-old had been strangled. A maintenance worker discovered the body, which had a strap or belt around the young mother’s neck.

Bodensteiner’s mother said her daughter had run into problems before she was killed. She had been arrested four times on prostitution charges and once on a drug-related charge. Bodensteiner and her husband, Michael Bodensteiner, had a stormy marriage and separated in 1992.

Authorities initially explored a possible connection with Bodensteiner’s murder and that of Angela Buck of Waterloo, whose body was found the day after Bodensteiner’s body was found.

Full Story


Podcast: IowaWatch Connection Updates Evansdale Double Murder Case

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 3, 2015 | iowawatch.org

The town of Evansdale, in the Cedar Valley region of northeast Iowa that includes Waterloo and Cedar Falls, was the focal point of tragedy in summer 2012 when two cousins — Lyric Cook Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins — were abducted. Their bodies were found months later north of from where they disappeared.

This podcast of an IowaWatch Connection radio report lets you hear from Elizabeth Collins’ mother and police officials and about an Iowa newspaper project called Gone Cold, which brings attention to unsolved murders in Iowa and an effort by Jody Ewing of Onawa to help solve the cases with her website, Iowa Cold Cases.

Read About It: IowaWatch Story For Gone Cold Project


40 years after ‘Waverly Stranglings,’ a renewed search for answers: UNSOLVED MURDER OF JULIA BENNING HAS FAMILY MEMBERS, AUTHORITIES CONSIDERING NEW THEORIES IN HER DEATH

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 2, 2015 | The Des Moines Register / Globe Gazette | By Mike Kilen

julie-benning-by-brian-powersCourtesy Brian Powers / Des Moines Register
A photo of 18-year-old Julie Benning, one of three cold cases in Waverly from the 1970s with similar stories.

Julia Benning lived on a farm near Clarksville, but she wanted to experience the wider world. She had pen pals in Michigan and Scotland and shared with them her righteous rants about small-minded prejudices against black people, Indians and young women who spoke their mind and didn’t conform in dress or behavior.

Her family didn’t know where this came from but accepted it. The oldest of five daughters of Lowell and JoAnn Benning, Julia had been the picture of a good farm girl, following her father around to do chores as a youngster, growing into a beautiful 4-foot-11-inch tall young woman who sang in the Plainfield High School choir, played in the band and performed for the speech team.

But with no money to attend college, Julia went to nearby Waverly to find a job after high school. She loved the music of the era — bands like the Eagles. When the family took a rare trip to California in 1974, she begged to stop in Winslow, Arizona, because the Eagles sang about standing on a corner there. They did, and she sang.

Full Story


Cold-case file full of many sad stories (Globe Gazette editorial)

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 2, 2015 | globegazette.com

The headlines are so sad. Sometimes they cause chills, perhaps a tear or two, as they drag memories from the far reaches of our minds and souls.

“Tammy Zywicki cold case investigation nears 23 years.”

“Iowa minister’s murder gathers dust, not clues.”

“West Des Moines police no closer to arrest in Okland case.”

And those headlines make us think of others in our area, like the case of the murdered Evansdale cousins, Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, and the case of missing KIMT anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.

All of these cases and many more are being documented in a series called “Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders.”

This past week has been the beginning of what will be a year-long collaboration by Iowa newspapers, including the Globe Gazette, to revisit mystifying cases.

It is compelling reading, if heartbreaking.

Full Story


Cold Case: The unsolved Murder of Linda Mayfield

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015 | www.nonpareilonline.com | by Derek Sullivan

The brutal death of Linda Mayfield is one of Council Bluffs’ coldest cold cases.

Linda Mayfield

Linda Mayfield

The unsolved stabbing death of a woman police believe was a prostitute on April 9, 1982, at the old Starlite Motel – now Deluxe Motel – at 3320 W. Broadway, remains unsolved.

At 2:18 a.m., officers with the Council Bluffs Police Department were called to the motel regarding a disturbance involving a man with knife, according to the police report. When officers arrived, Mayfield, 21, was found laying face down by the north office door.

The responding officer said she had several stab wounds to her face, chest, stomach, hand and foot. Mayfield was pronounced dead at 4 a.m. at Mercy Hospital.

Full Story


Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015 | nwestiowa.com

REGIONAL—“Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders” is a yearlong collaborative effort by Iowa news organizations to revisit some of the most brutal and mystifying homicides in Iowa’s history.

Beginning in the Aug. 1 issue of The N’West Iowa REVIEW and in the weeks following, we’ll share information about many of the state’s 438 unsolved homicides.

It is our hope that by sharing these stories with a broad audience, justice will come for some of these victims.

Victims like Brown University graduate Adam Lack, who was murdered on the night of July 13, 2008, in Nora Springs, his family’s second casualty in their fight for clean water. And realtor Dorothy Miller, who on Aug. 18, 1969, was raped and stabbed while showing an unoccupied house in Burlington.

Each week for the next year, Iowa news organizations will explore cold cases — those that law enforcement no longer has any clues on which to follow up. A case can go cold weeks, months or even years after the death.

And it can be reopened if new evidence is introduced. There is no statute of limitations on murder.


Cold Case: Killer of Sioux City child in 1955 never found

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

August 2, 2015 | The Des Moines Register / Daily Nonpareil | by Mike Kilen

She was writing book reviews for a Sioux City newspaper, which even 10 years ago wasn’t considered eye-grabbing material for the masses. An editor asked her to take on a series of cold cases – unsolved murders – the kind you see on TV shows. People love that stuff.

Donna Sue Davis

Donna Sue Davis (Courtesy photo Sioux City Police Department)

With three unfinished novels in a drawer, Jody Ewing could hardly turn down an assignment. And when she heard about Donna Sue Davis, there was no going back to writing about books. The 21-month-old toddler with clear blue eyes and curly blond hair was snatched from a crib in her home in a working-class Sioux City neighborhood and later raped, sodomized, beaten and killed from a severe blow to the head. Her killer was never found.

“I couldn’t believe in 1955 that someone could commit such a heinous crime and not be caught,” Ewing said.

Ewing ached for Donna Sue and the other victims. Thoughts of their still-free murderers kept her up at night.

Full Story


D.M. police chief gets more officers into neighborhoods

August 1, 2015 | desmoinesregister.com

A rose to Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert for restructuring the neighborhood policing program…

A rose to Bankers Trust for doing its part to build police-community relations…

A thistle to Gov. Terry Branstad for saying the Des Moines Water Works should pipe down about water quality problems if it wants state aid…

A rose to Jody Ewing of Onawa, who has pursued a one-woman campaign to keep murder investigations from going cold…

Full Story


Cold Cases: Woman’s body found in Tama County in 1973: Unsolved — Termed a suspicious Marshalltown death

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 29, 2015 | By John Speer | tamatoledonews.com

Halloween day, Oct. 31, 1973, was typical of many in late fall in Iowa cold, overcast and threatening rain. It included the discovery of the body of Helen Mae Bown, 61, of Marshalltown, on the bank of the Iowa River northwest of Montour in Tama County. Her body was found that day by Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents. Bown, a widow, had been reported missing to Marshalltown Police on Oct. 7.

Full Story


Gone Cold: In 1993, retirees were killed in homes, blocks apart

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 29, 2015 | By Jeff Reinitz | wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO | Two discoveries at apartment buildings a day apart marked the end of a particularly violent year in Waterloo.

In 1993, Waterloo police investigated nine slayings, with the deaths of Gladys Held and Jacob Biretz closing out the year.

Decades later, it still isn’t clear if their murders are related, but there are several similarities.

Both retirees were killed in their homes, which were about three blocks apart.

Held, an 83-year-old former secretary and Rath Packing employee, had been hit with a phone and strangled in her third-floor apartment at Walnut Court senior housing. A neighbor found her in bed Dec. 9, 1993, after she failed to show up for church.

Biretz, 87, a former auto body mechanic from Nashua, was found Dec. 10, 1993, on a couch by his landlady. He had been suffocated with a pillow.

Full Story


Gone Cold: August marks 12 years since Adams St. slaying

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 28, 2015 | By Jeff Reinitz | wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO | August marks 12 years since Terence Dwayne Currington was shot while sitting his car.

Currington, a 20-year-old Waterloo native, had stopped in the 400 block of Adams Street — just six blocks from his home — about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 2003, to talk to friends, who walked up to his vehicle.

According to witnesses, another vehicle pulled up alongside his car.

There was yelling, enough to prompt neighbors to call police, and someone started shooting.

Bullets struck Currington in his left arm, chest and abdomen.

His car rolled forward, jumped the curb and came to a rest after bumping into a tree. Friends tried to help Currington from his vehicle, but he was dead at the scene.

To this day, no one has been held responsible for his slaying. His mother passed away in June.

Full Story


Cold Case: “We’d really like to have some answers: The case of two missing cousins who were abducted in Evansdale in 2012 continues to frustrate investigators

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 28, 2015 | nonpareilonline.com | by Lyle Muller

EVANSDALE – The theories have been plenty. Most lead to nothing.

Yet, investigators keep listening because they hope that hidden in the often-irrelevant information is a nugget that, crazy as it may seem at first blush, will help them catch whoever killed Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins.

“I don’t want people to go, ‘Oh, they’ll think I’m crazy,’ and not call in,’” Evansdale Police Chief Jeff Jensen said.

Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Collins, 8, were abducted near Meyers Lake in Evansdale on July 13, 2012. The cousins’ bodies were found five months later, on Dec. 5, 2012, in a wooded area 24 miles to the north in rural Bremer County at Seven Bridges Wildlife Area.

Full Story


Half of Midwest deaths unsolved — GONE COLD: EXPLORING IOWA’S UNSOLVED MURDERS

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 27, 2015 | By Jason Clayworth, The Des Moines Register

DES MOINES | Roughly a third of homicides in the U.S. go unsolved.

In the Midwest, it’s even less likely a killer will be caught: A little more than half — 52 percent — are identified, according to FBI data referred to as “clearance rates.”

Criminologists and forensic death consultants such as Jim Adcock estimate more than 200,000 homicides have gone unsolved in the United States since 1980.

And the longer a case goes unsolved — the colder it becomes — the harder it is to crack.

Advances in forensics and social media have helped identify some killers, but the bitter truth for victims’ families is that the national clearance rate has remained relatively static for more than 20 years.

Why?

Full Story


The IowaWatch Connection Podcast: Program 57

July 31 – August 2, 2015

False Leads Make For Long Investigation Into Northeast Iowa Cousins’ Murders, and Lyle Muller and Chris Mudge talk about Iowa newspapers’ unsolved murders project

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

Cold Cases — The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism helped the Iowa Newspaper Association, the Des Moines Register and other participating newspapers with one story for a statewide project focusing on various murder “cold cases” in Iowa. This is the story about one northeast Iowa murder that remains unsolved, involving two young cousins and a small town that is committed to preserving their memory.

Categories: Criminal Justice

Guests:

  • Heather Collins, mother of murder victim/Evansdale
  • Jeff Jensen, police chief/Evansdale
  • Tom Nichols, father of murder victim/Evansdale
  • Chris Mudge, executive director, Iowa Newspaper Association/Des Moines
  • Lyle Muller, IowaWatch

By Lyle Muller, iowawatch.org

Full Story and Podcast


Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Cold Case Unit

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

Sunday, July 26, 2015 | nonpareilonline.com | by Jeff Reinitz

DES MOINES – In its three years in operation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Cold Case Unit brought to close two unsolved homicide cases dating as far back as the 1970s.

The unit was shut down in 2011 after the federal grant that funded it ran out. But DCI officials said they continue to investigate homicides cases that have gone years, or even decades, without justice.

Full Story


Abandoned DCI Cold Case Unit solved cases

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 26, 2015 | By Jeff Reinitz, wcfcourier.com

DCI-CCU-Cases-Solved-WCFC-7-26-15DES MOINES | In its three years in operation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Cold Case Unit brought to a close two unsolved homicide cases dating as far back as the 1970s.

The unit was shut down in 2011 after the federal grant that funded it ran out. But DCI officials say they continue to investigate homicide cases that have gone years, or even decades, without justice.

The unit started with a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, approved in 2008. The money funded two full-time agents and one criminalist with the DCI laboratory, and the unit started operation in 2009.

Full Story


Evansdale cousins case never to be considered ‘cold case’

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 26, 2015 | By Jeff Reinitz | wcfcourier.com

EVANSDALE | It’s been three years since Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins disappeared while riding their bikes in Evansdale and were later found dead.

No arrests have been made in the case, and no arrests appear to be in the works.

Still, interim Evansdale Police Chief Jeff Jensen pauses when asked if their deaths are a cold case.

“I don’t want to consider this a cold case because we are still actively working on it. Nobody has put it on a shelf and said we’re done with this. … We’re still scratching for every little lead we can get,” Jensen said.

Full Story


Our View: Joining a search for justice: Our Position: Iowa’s newspapers aim to help law enforcement solve cold cases

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 26, 2015 | The Daily Nonpareil | Editorial Staff

Starting today, The Nonpareil is among the Iowa Newspaper Association newspapers participating in a year-long project with IowaColdCases.org to bring awareness in hopes of garnering tips to solving some of the 438 Iowa murders where the trail has gone cold.

Each day next week and every Sunday for the next 12 months, we’ll spotlight selected cases from around the state as part of a series titled: “Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s Unsolved Murders.” And, at least once a month, we’ll delve deeper into those from southwest Iowa.

Cass, Crawford, Page and Shelby counties are fortunate to have no cold cases. However, Pottawattamie County and many of the counties in our coverage area have multiple unsolved murders.

We’ll provide information for cold cases from Fremont (four), Harrison (two), Mills (two), Monona (two), Montgomery (eight, all from the infamous Villisca axe murders) and Pottawattamie (17) counties.

Though many of these cases have been open for decades – Council Bluffs’ oldest unsolved murder dates back to 1885 – there is hope.

Read More


1974 Sioux City triple slaying remains unsolved

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 26, 2015 | The Sioux City Journal | By Kirby Kaufman

SIOUX CITY | The lead detectives, who worked a triple slaying 40 years ago on Morningside Avenue, now live much quieter lives — though many questions remain about the unsolved murders.

Joe Frisbie, 69, became Sioux City’s police chief in 1996. His ex-partner, Russell White Jr., 68, who now lives in Des Moines, became the Woodbury County sheriff in 1981. Both have since retired and will often call each other to talk about the deaths that occurred on Dec. 3, 1974.

At the crime scene, two trees covered in snow cradled the white house where police found the bodies of Freta Bostic, 24, Ernest Isom, 27, and Jesse Hanni, 26, at 1117 Morningside Ave.

Full Story


About this series: Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders…a statewide newspaper project

July 26, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

Beginning today and in the weeks following, we’ll share information about many of the state’s 438 unsolved homicides.

GONE-COLD-INA-SERIES

It is our hope that by sharing these stories with a broad audience, justice will come for some of these victims.

Victims like Brown University graduate Adam Lack, who was murdered on the night of July 13, 2008, in Nora Springs, his family’s second casualty in their fight for clean water. And real estate agent Dorothy Miller who, on Aug. 18, 1969, was raped and stabbed while showing an unoccupied house in Burlington.

Each week for the next year, Iowa news organizations will explore cold cases — those that law enforcement no longer has any clues on which to follow up. A case can go cold for weeks, months or even years after the death.

And it can be reopened if new evidence is introduced. There is no statute of limitations on murder.


GONE COLD: EXPLORING IOWA’S UNSOLVED MURDERS

Click map to explore Iowa's cold cases. (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

Click map to explore Iowa’s cold cases. (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

July 25, 2015 | The Des Moines Register

Explore this interactive map of Iowa’s unsolved murders, dating back to 1847. All information is courtesy of Iowa Cold Cases, and each link will send you to more information about the case on the Iowa Cold Cases website.

View the interactive map.


48 years later, memory of a mother’s brutal death lingers

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 25, 2015 | The Des Moines Register | By Mike Kilen

brenda-camp-conklin-DMR-7-7-2015Courtesy photo Des Moines Register
Brenda Camp’s mother, Leota Camp was stabbed to death in the family’s home while her children, including Brenda, were outside playing on July 10, 1967. “I’d like to know who did it,” Camp added, “It’s always been this mystery of what happened.”

It was a typical summer day in 1967. Leota Camp kissed a goodbye to her husband, Ray, as he went off to his job at the Iowa Employment Security Commission.

Like the many other stay-at-home mothers in the working-class Des Moines neighborhood on Fleming Avenue, a block east of Lower Beaver Road, she had housework to do and children to supervise.

Brenda, 3, and Kevin, 4, played in the back yard as Camp hung laundry on the line, leaving to check on her 3-month-old, Kristine, inside.

It was getting close to noon. Brenda and Kevin grew hungry and went inside to ask their mother for lunch.

What they found was a horror — one that 48 years later, still has no answers.

Full Story


Woman crusades to publicize Iowa’s unsolved murders

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 25, 2015 | The Des Moines Register | By Mike Kilen

She was writing book reviews for a Sioux City newspaper, which even 10 years ago wasn’t considered eye-grabbing material for the masses. An editor asked her to take on a series of cold cases — unsolved murders — the kind you see on TV shows. People love that stuff.

With three unfinished novels in a drawer, Jody Ewing could hardly turn down an assignment. And when she heard about Donna Sue Davis, there was no going back to writing about books. The 21-month-old toddler with clear blue eyes and curly blond hair was snatched from a crib in her home in a working-class Sioux City neighborhood and later raped, sodomized, beaten and killed from a severe blow to the head. Her killer was never found.

“I couldn’t believe in 1955 that someone could commit such a heinous crime and not be caught,” Ewing said.

Full Story


Getting away with murder

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 25, 2015 | The Des Moines Register | By Jason Clayworth

The killers behind roughly a third of American murders go unidentified by law enforcement.

In the Midwest, it’s even less likely a killer will be caught: Just over half — 52 percent — are identified, according FBI data referred to as “clearance rates.”

Criminologists and forensic death consultants such as Jim Adcock estimate more than 200,000 homicides have gone unsolved in the United States since 1980.

And the longer a case goes unsolved — the colder it becomes — the harder it is to crack.

Advances in forensics and social media have helped identify some killers, but the bitter truth for victims’ families is that the national clearance rate has remained relatively static for more than 20 years.

Why? Read the full story.


6 photos: Gone Cold: Julie Benning

Part of the “Gone Cold” series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

July 16, 2015 | The Des Moines Register | Photos by Brian Powers

Clarksville, IA resident JoAnn Benning stands in her dining room on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 surrounded by photos of her children including Julie Benning who is one of three cold cases from the 1970’s with similar stories. Julie disappeared the day after Thanksgiving in 1975 which is why JoAnn says she still hates the holiday.


Teacher believes he’s solved century-old homicide

July 9, 2015 | desmoinesregister.com

Anthony Garza is a middle school art teacher by trade, but he could justifiably add amateur historian, detective and author to his resume.

Garza has spent parts of the past two years researching the unsolved killing of Des Moines Police Officer George W. Mattern, who died in May 1918.


New Iowa crime investigation team just unveiled

May 18, 2015 | KCCI.com

DES MOINES, Iowa —Recent high profile child abduction cases have triggered the creation of a new Child Abduction Response Team in Iowa.

The new team will be trained to specifically handle future child abduction cases.

Authorities said the abductions and murder cases of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey in Evansdale and Kathlynn Shepard in Dayton were key in the decision to form the new team.

Authorities held a news conference Monday morning to show the new CART trailer and equipment.


Iowa DPS Forms Multidisciplinary Child Abduction Response Team (CART)

May 15, 2015 | Iowa Department of Public Safety

DES MOINES, Iowa — In response to the recent tragic abductions and murders of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey in Evansdale, Iowa, and the abduction and murder of Kathlynn Shepard in Dayton, Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) has formed a Child Abduction Response Team (CART) that will be better trained and better equipped to respond to child abduction cases in the future across the state.

For the past several months, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has been working closely with AMBER Alert, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Department of Justice, and nationally established CART programs across the county to identify the best ways to investigate these types of incidents. The Iowa CART program’s sole mission and main goal is recovering and returning abducted children to their caregivers.


Judge denies Frederiksen’s request for new trial, sentences to two life terms

May 11, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

CHARLES CITY | Casey Frederiksen will not get a new trial and must serve two consecutive life sentences for sexually abusing and killing 5-year-old Evelyn Miller in July 2005. First, though, Frederiksen must complete his previous federal prison sentence for possession of child pornography.

“My granddaughter got justice after 10 years. What more can you say?” Linda Christie told members of the media after the hearing.

Hamilton County jurors in March found Frederiksen, 36, guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual abuse.


Etan Patz case: 6 other missing-child cases that made national news

May 9, 2015 | latimes.com

Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared in May 1979 while walking to a bus stop in Manhattan, has never been found, and a jury on Friday declared itself unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a former grocery store clerk who was charged with Etan’s murder more than three decades after he vanished. Etan, whose fate proved a catalyst for national efforts to improve methods of finding missing children, is not the only child to disappear without a trace.

Johnny Gosch, a freckle-faced 12-year-old from West Des Moines, Iowa, was last seen heading out to deliver newspapers on Sept. 5, 1982.


Forensic team searches at home linked to missing Marion man: Feds conducting drug-related homicide investigation, police say

May 7, 2015 | thegazette.com

ELY — A forensics team that specializes in identifying human remains is helping search for evidence outside a rural Ely farmhouse once linked to a Marion man who went missing a year ago and is presumed the victim of a homicide.

A current homeowner referred questions about activity on the property to the Marion Police Department. Marion police Chief Harry Daugherty declined Thursday to provide details, but said his department is involved in a federal drug-related homicide investigation.

Police say the disappearance of James Booher, 51, of Marion is considered a homicide and still is unsolved.


Cold cash sought for cold cases: Church group and Dubuque-area Crime Stoppers seek donations to build substantial reward fund for tips on long-unsolved crimes

April 29, 2015 | thonline.com

About one year after Crystal A. Arensdorf went missing in July 2001, her mother, Barbara Beam, read an article about the murder of Kenny Joe Johnson, which had gone unsolved for 15 years. She said she remembers hoping it wouldn’t take that long to find out answers about her daughter. This year marks 14 years since Arensdorf, 20, was last seen at a Dubuque bar.

“It’s really heart-wrenching,” Beam said. “You think about it every day and the different scenarios that go through your mind. … We just want to find out what happened to her.”

Arensdorf’s disappearance is one of several Dubuque Police Department cases that remain unsolved. But a new campaign announced Tuesday will strive to help investigators shed new light on cold cases.


Dubuque Police seek reward money for cold case help

April 28, 2015 | thonline.com

Crystal A. Arensdorf went missing on July 4, 2001, but for her sister it still feels like it happened yesterday.

“It’s hard to think of what would she be like today, if she would have children, what would she be doing with her life,” Jennifer Puetsch said. “It’s been 14 years and we have no clue. There’s no more information than the night she disappeared.”

Several community members are now hoping to offer a substantial reward to help solve Arensdorf’s disappearance and unsolved murders in Dubuque.


Shenandoah man sentenced to life in prison for girlfriend’s murder

April 9, 2015 | Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil

SIDNEY – Fourth District Judge Timothy O’Grady sentenced Brian Davis to life in prison on Thursday for the July 2009 death of his girlfriend, Holly Durben. Additionally, Davis, of Shenandoah, was sentenced to pay court costs in the case, make restitution for his court-appointed attorneys, and pay $150,000 to either the estate of Holly Durben or her heirs.

In a February bench trial, O’Grady found Davis guilty of first-degree murder in Durben’s July 18, 2009 death. Durben was found with a shotgun wound to her head in the couple’s bedroom at the farmhouse where they lived, about four miles south of Shenandoah on U.S. Highway 59.


Fleur to show new Johnny Gosch documentary

April 8, 2015 | desmoinesregister.com

Johnny Gosch, the 12-year-old paperboy who disappeared 32 years ago in West Des Moines, takes center stage in a documentary appearing the week of April 24 at the Fleur Cinema.

The dark, true-crime film called “Who Took Johnny” tells the story of the disappearance of one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton through the eyes of his mother, Noreen, who has never stopped searching for the abductors.

Noreen Gosch says the film was the first she’s ever agreed to take part in, and the filmmakers tackled it with “honesty and compassion.”

“It will give people the opportunity to see the whole story of what happened behind the scenes” after Johnny disappeared early on Sept. 5, 1982. The film also sheds light on how little was known at the time about pedophilia and the child sex trade, which Noreen Gosch is convinced played into the abduction.

“But today human trafficking is everywhere — it’s on everybody’s lips,” she said.


Report stirs up unsolved murder case

April 6, 2015 | chinadaily.com

It’s been nearly seven months since Shao Tong, 20, a chemical engineering student at Iowa State University, was found in the trunk of her car parked under a tree on the outskirts of Iowa City. She had died of asphyxiation and blunt force trauma, and her body was estimated to be in the car for about three weeks before being discovered on Sept 26.

A 15-pound barbell was found next to her in the Toyota Camry, as well as copies of flight information in the backseat. The one-way ticket to China was in the name of Li Xiangnan, 23, Shao’s boyfriend, a business major at the University of Iowa, who stayed in a hotel with her on Sept 6, flew back to China on Sept 8 and vanished after Sept 10, a CNN report over the weekend said.

The CNN report has stirred renewed discussion within Chinese social media, and according to Zhou Xiaohui, the victim’s cousin, grief still haunts the family.

“It’s a torment for us because as far as we know, the murderer is still at large,” Zhou told China Daily on April 5. “All we are calling for is justice in the case.”


Iowa jury convicts Georgia man of 2nd-degree murder in ex-roommate’s death

April 3, 2015 | The Associated Press / greenfieldreporter.com

BOONE, Iowa — A Georgia man was convicted Friday of second-degree murder in the killing of his former roommate in 2009.

Jurors in John Green’s trial returned a guilty verdict Friday, one day after they began deliberating. Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction in the death of Mark Koster, 58, of Sac City, but jurors found him guilty of the lesser offense.

First-degree murder denotes the intent to kill, while second-degree murder indicates the intent to do harm but not the intent to kill.

Koster was declared missing in 2010. His remains were later found buried in his basement after new owners began renovations.


Trial in 5-year-old’s 2005 death starts Monday

February 24, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

CHARLES CITY | Prosecutors hope to limit the evidence jurors can consider when Casey Frederiksen’s murder trial begins Monday in Hamilton County.

Authorities allege Frederiksen, 35, sexually abused and then stabbed to death his live-in girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter, Evelyn Miller, in July 2005. According to the state’s theory, he then dumped the little girl’s body in the Cedar River to hide his crime.

Law enforcement officials did not arrest Frederiksen until September 2012. He is charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree sexual assault.


Kent Smock leaves fire chief post to focus on Evansdale police duties

February 23, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

EVANSDALE | Police Chief Kent Smock has left his fire chief duties to focus exclusively on law enforcement, including the hunt for those responsible for the deaths of two young cousins.

Smock had been serving jointly as the city’s police and fire chief for three years. He resigned as fire chief and is taking a month of vacation before returning full-time as police chief.

Since July 2012, he has been leading the investigation into the deaths of Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8. The cousins disappeared July 13, 2012, and their bodies were found by hunters Dec. 5, 2012, in the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area.

Smock has served in the city’s fire department for nearly 40 years and was appointed chief in March 2002. A retired Black Hawk County Sheriff’s deputy, Smock was appointed police chief in March 2012.


Supino Found Not Guilty, Plans to File Lawsuit

February 20, 2015 | whotv.com

WATERLOO, Iowa — After 10 days of testimony, it took a jury just six and a half hours to reach a verdict in Terri Supino’s double murder trial.

The jury found Supino not guilty Friday afternoon in the brutal 1983 murders of her estranged husband Steven Fisher and his girlfriend, Melisa Gregory. The couple’s bodies were found beaten to death at the Copper Dollar Ranch near Newton.

Since the murders, Supino has lived under a cloud of suspicion. She said this past year, the year she spent in jail, was the worst.

“Anxiety. Taking medication. I’ve been a nervous wreck. I just want to go home,” Supino said after the trial concluded.


Jurors return verdicts of not guilty in Theresa Supino murder trial

February 20, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO | Jurors reached a verdict Friday afternoon, finding Theresa “Terri” Supino, 54, not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

The group received the case about 3 p.m. Thursday and deliberated about seven hours.

Jurors — eight women and four men — had the choice to find Supino guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.


Jury returns verdict in Supino case

February 20, 2015 | newtondailynews.com

WATERLOO — After nearly 6.5 hours of deliberation, jurors found Theresa “Terri” Supino not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the March 3, 1983 deaths of her estranged husband Steven Fisher and his girlfriend Melisa Gregory.

Supino broke into tears in the courtroom after the verdict was reached, immediately embracing her son Rocky Supino who has been in the courtroom throughout most of the trial. She also was held by her co-counsel Jill Eimermann who was also in tears following the unanimous decisions from the 12-member jury.


Supino not guilty, says ‘leave me the hell alone’

February 20, 2015 | desmoinesregister.com

WATERLOO – A jubilant and defiant Theresa Supino embraced her son and criticized law enforcement after a Black Hawk County jury found her not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the 1983 beating deaths of her husband and his girlfriend.

Supino stared ahead and appeared to be shaking as the verdict was read. Her son, Rocky, was crying. The two then embraced.

After the verdict was read, Supino told reporters she’s ready for law enforcement to “leave me the hell alone.”


Davis found guilty in Durben murder

February 16, 2015 | kmaland.com

(Sidney) — Thirty-five year-old Brian Heath Davis was found guilty of 1st degree murder Monday afternoon in the 2009 death of Holly Rae Durben.

District Court Judge Timothy O’Grady handed down his verdict in Fremont County District Court shortly before 3 p.m. Sentencing for Davis has been set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 4th. The Class A felony charge of 1st Degree Murder carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.


Sheriff Halferty details man-hours spent on cold case

February 16, 2015 | newtondailynews.com

WATERLOO —Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty took the stand Monday afternoon in the double murder trial of Theresa “Terri” Supino, detailing his personal stake in the Copper Dollar Ranch cold case, as well as the amount of time and effort he’s invested in the investigation.

Attorneys for Supino tried to show what they’ve characterized as theatrics and staging in some of the decisions leading to Supino’s March 3, 2014 arrest.


Jurors View Supino’s Police Interview

February 16, 2015 | whotv.com

WATERLOO, Iowa — Testimony continued Monday in the Copper Dollar Ranch murder trial, where Terri Supino is accused of killing her estranged husband and his girlfriend back in 1983.

Steven Fisher and Melissa Gregory were found beaten to death at the ranch near Newton. Gregory’s body was found inside a camper on the property and Fisher’s body was found a few feet away.

Monday jurors heard from a DCI agent who talked about inconsistencies in Supino’s story.


UPDATE: DCI agent concedes no evidence found linking Supino to crime

February 16, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO | Jurors on Monday heard from and saw defendant Theresa “Terri” Supino describe events related to a double homicide in March 1983 outside Newton.

On Tuesday morning, the jury was scheduled to walk about a block to a Waterloo police storage facility to inspect the camper where one of the victims, Melisa Gregory, died. The inspection was rescheduled from Monday.


Agent: Details of Supino’s stories changed

February 16, 2015 | desmoinesregister.com

WATERLOO, Ia. – Police interviews with the Altoona woman accused of killing her husband and his girlfriend reveal inconsistencies in her account of the 1983 murders, an investigator testified Monday.


Police Receive Leads In Martinko Murder

February 15, 2015 | cbs2iowa.com

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – In an exclusive interview during the holiday season, the family of cold case murder victim Michelle Martinko pleaded for those with information to do the right thing and call police. Now we know, Cedar Rapids investigators and cold case unit members did receive tips. The 18-year-old Kennedy High School senior was found dead in her family car in the parking lot of the newly opened Westdale Mall in December of 1979. Despite numerous suspects and 35 years of searching for the killer, there has never been an arrest.


terri-supino-wcfcourier-feb-trialCourtesy photo Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Theresa “Terri” Supino

Prosecutors present additional witnesses in Supino trial

February 9, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO | Prosecutors in their opening statement promised to offer bits of evidence during Theresa “Terri” Supino’s trial for two counts of first-degree murder.

They did just that Monday morning as the second week of testimony began, calling a string of witnesses who each added a few nuggets of information.

Supino, now 54, allegedly killed her estranged husband, Steven Fisher, 20, and his girlfriend, Melisa Gregory, 17. The pair died nearly 32 years ago on the Copper Dollar Ranch near Newton.

The case moved to Black Hawk County on a change of venue because of the case’s local notoriety. Full Story


Continuing efforts in abduction, murder cases are appreciated

February 9, 2015 | wcfcourier.com

We are not surprised by the quick and heavy response to a request from law enforcement concerning the abduction and murder of two Evansdale cousins.

Virtually everyone in the Cedar Valley is looking forward to the day when the perpetrators of those crimes are identified.

Recently local police traveled to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to discuss the investigation into the cases of Lyric Cook Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8.

A $150,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers also has a $20,500 reward for anyone coming forward with information that simply leads to an arrest. Full Story


Police: Iowa girls’ killer likely familiar with remote area

February 3, 2015 | clintonherald.com

EVANSDALE (AP) — Investigators asked the public Tuesday for tips about anyone familiar with a remote wildlife area where two Iowa girls’ bodies were found in 2012.

Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock said he had “no doubt” that whoever killed 10-year-old Lyric Cook and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins was familiar with the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in rural northeastern Iowa. He said residents should turn over information about any acquaintances known to frequent the “extremely remote” area well-known among local residents but otherwise difficult to find.

“We are asking that everyone think about anyone they know who is familiar with Seven Bridges. At some point in their life, they may have hunted there. They may have fished there,” he said at a news conference carried on live television. “They may have gone there to party.”

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Iowa prosecutors say man staged girlfriend’s 2009 death as suicide

February 3, 2015 | The Omaha World-Herald, omaha.com

SIDNEY, Iowa — Imprisonment. Torture. Isolation. Battery. Holly Durben’s sister used these words in testimony Tuesday to describe Durben’s relationship with her boyfriend, Brian Davis.

Davis is charged with first-degree murder, accused of killing Durben in 2009 at the home they shared south of Shenandoah.


Trial set to start in 1983 killings at Iowa ranch

February 1, 2015 | desmoinesregister.com

WATERLOO, Ia. – The trial is expected to begin in Waterloo on Monday for an Altoona woman arrested on murder charges last year — more than 30 years after the two killings at Copper Dollar Ranch northwest of Newton.

Theresa Supino, 53, was arrested in March in connection with the 1983 deaths of her estranged husband Steven Fisher, 20, and Melisa Gregory, 17, who had been dating Fisher.

Fisher and Gregory had such severe head trauma that authorities had to use dental charts and fingerprints to identify them. Their deaths were ruled homicides.

The case and the 31-years-later arrest of Supino were featured last year on the cable television show “Cold Justice.” That show’s investigators were part of interviews and other work that led to Supino’s arrest. Full story.


Trial Begins Monday in Cold Case Double Murder

January 30, 2015 | WHOTV.com

NEWTON, Iowa — A Jasper County woman will go to trial next week for a 30-year-old crime.

Terri Supino is charged with two counts of first degree murder. She is accused of killing her estranged husband 20-year-old Steven Fisher and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Melisa Gregory, at the Copper Dollar Ranch back in 1983.

Investigators with a cable TV crime show helped police make the arrest last year.

Due to all the publicity surrounding the case, the trial has been moved to Black Hawk County. Jury selection begins Monday.


Police Seek New Help In Solving Cold Case

January 29, 2015 | WOWT.com

Police in Evansdale, Iowa are seeking new help to find leads in the abductions and deaths of two young cousins back in 2012.

Cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey were abducted in July 2012 and found dead at a wildlife refuge five months later.

Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock is now in Washington D.C. at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He hopes a fresh sight of eyes will help give investigators the break they need.


Investigators in Virginia to present Evansdale case to experts

January 28, 2015 | By Jeff Reinitz, The Globe Gazette

EVANSDALE | Iowa investigators were in Virginia on Wednesday to discuss the Evansdale missing cousins case with representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock and an agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation will be in Alexandria until Friday as part of a case review in the investigation into the disappearance and deaths of Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins.

The girls, ages 10 and 8, disappeared while riding their bikes in Evansdale on July 13, 2012. Their bodies were discovered the following December in a wildlife area in rural Bremer County.

No arrests have been made in the case. Read More.


Illinois State Police following new leads in Zywicki cold case

January 23, 2015 | By Brandi Bachman, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS — Illinois State Police say they’re following new leads in the cold case murder of Tammy Zywicki.

Zywicki, 21, disappeared while driving to school for her senior year of classes at Grinnell College in August of 1992. She had been driving from her home in Evanston, Illinois to Iowa, but she never made it to school. An Illinois State Trooper found her vehicle abandoned along I-80. Days later, her body was found with multiple stab wounds, wrapped in a blanket, along I-44 near Joplin, Missouri.

Illinois State Police say they are conducting interviews, as well as searching DNA files and public records as the delve into the case. They’ve also presented it to the VIDOCQ Society, a group out of Philadelphia that looks into unsolved deaths, to help expand the investigation.


ICPD detective: Frances Bloomfield deserved justice

January 23, 2015 | press-citizen.com

About a year before he would return to Minnesota to make the arrest, Iowa City Police Detective David Gonzalez knocked on the door of then-73-year-old John Bloomfield’s apartment in St. Paul, where the murder suspect stuck to his long-held story.

He did not know who killed his wife 15 years earlier when the couple lived in Iowa City.

Bloomfield told Gonzalez he had no idea what happened on Sept. 20, 1997, in their home located on a quiet eastside cul-de-sac. That’s the day Frances Bloomfield is believed to have been strangled to death. Her husband said he was away at that time, traveling on business. Full Story


New leads considered in murder of Eastside High grad Tammy Zywicki

January 22, 2015 | greenvilleonline.com

Illinois State Police have turned to a nationally known organization of criminal investigators for help in solving the 1992 murder of Tammy Zywicki.

Master Sgt. Jeff Padilla told The Greenville News Wednesday that State Police investigators presented evidence to members of the Vidocq Society in Philadelphia in November and have been following up on their suggestions since.


Using Social Media to Bring Missing Persons Home

January 13, 2015 | By Katie Alexander, KWQC.com

Facebook users can now expect to see Amber Alerts in their news feeds when a child in their region has been abducted.

It’s one more way to get the message out to as many people as possible, tapping into the tried and true power of social media to help bring missing persons home.

Some of us already do get some Amber Alerts in our Facebook news feeds, but you have to opt in to that by “liking” the Iowa or Illinois Amber Alert page to get those notifications.

Now though, Amber Alerts will show up in the news feeds of everyone in a targeted search area automatically. And, local community leaders say that could make a big difference. Read More.


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