About Iowa Cold Cases
IOWA COLD CASES, INC. is a nonprofit organization committed to providing case summaries, articles and updates for all Iowa open homicides and missing persons cases where foul play is suspected.
Our mission is to educate the public about these open cases, share and exchange resources in efforts to publicize these unsolved crimes, and ensure every victim’s story is told and kept alive until those responsible are held accountable. We work with law enforcement officials from the county to federal level, often serving as a liaison between investigators and those providing information via our website.
As an extension of the Iowa Cold Cases website, ICC’s Facebook page serves as a hub for ongoing conversations and discussions. Our blog highlights cold case anniversaries, including guest blogs written by victims’ family members and friends.
Our History and Highlights
Writer Jody Ewing launched the Iowa Cold Cases website in 2005 after researching and writing a cold case series for the Sioux City Weekender. Her first in the series — the 1974 triple slaying of two young men and a pregnant woman shot execution style in the rental home they shared — would pose a new kind of challenge for the west-central Iowa author and set the stage for a long-term commitment.
No statewide compendium of unsolved murders existed in Iowa — nor any other state across the U.S. Few police and/or sheriff’s departments included unsolved homicides on their respective websites. Little to no information existed on the Internet for the vast majority of cases more than than a few years old. Many victims and case histories were relatively unknown outside communities where the crimes occurred, and some victims’ lives and stories hadn’t been publicly profiled in decades.
Ewing systematically designed a framework and spent more than two years fine-tuning a first-of-its-kind prototype she hoped other journalists and researchers would find useful and easy to navigate. Cases and full-length summaries are listed alphabetically and cross-referenced by city, county, individual years and decades. A News page highlights cases in the news and news archives. Videos are listed chronologically with source citations, beginning with the most recent. A Contact page allows users to provide detailed information about a case and upload photos or other related documents. The Rewards page identifies cases where financial compensation is offered for information leading to arrests and/or convictions. A Links page lists organizations and links to other resources victims’ family members or researchers may find beneficial.
More than 500 victims are currently featured on the Iowa Cold Cases website, including Ewing’s stepfather of 25 years, Earl Thelander, who in 2007 lost his life at the hands of copper thieves.
Iowa Cold Cases incorporated and became an official nonprofit organization in April 2010.
Eileen Meier – an international human rights attorney — serves as ICC’s Director of Advocacy Affairs. Eileen’s eight-year-old sister, Valerie Peterson, was killed in a hit-and-run in 1971 while riding her bicycle along a Manson, Iowa road. Her unsolved murder propelled Eileen into a public service career distinguished by worldwide victim advocacy.
Eileen taught legislative advocacy at Georgetown University for seven years and international human rights law at the University of Baltimore School of Law for five years. She has lectured on gender rights at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and the Kathmandu School of Law in Nepal, and worked with the Bosnian government and NGO’s to reform gender rights’ laws and court reform in Bosnia. She has worked tirelessly with Iowa legislators in support of resurrecting the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s official Cold Case Unit.
In July 2010, NBC affiliate WHO-TV Channel 13 in Des Moines aired a special series each Thursday evening profiling a different Iowa unsolved murder or missing persons case. Based on the feedback and interest, WHO-TV reporter Aaron Brilbeck asked Iowa Cold Cases to partner up to continue with Channel 13′s weekly cold case series. Those stories — which aired from July 1, 2010 through February 4, 2011 — may be found on the ICC Videos page.
Today, all Iowa broadcasters and newspapers play an active role in profiling Iowa’s unsolved crimes. We give our thanks and heartfelt gratitude to these media outlets for ensuring that the majority of Iowans — particularly those without computers or Internet access — are able to realize a loved one’s case has not been forgotten.
Iowa Cold Cases continues its mission to bring together, under one roof, a comprehensive accounting of all Iowa unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. We strive to serve somewhat as a hub where victims’ family members and others may share and exchange information as we work toward one prevailing goal: to see these cases closed.
Photos and news reports are always welcome. If you are interested in conducting research and/or writing for Iowa Cold Cases, please contact us.
This site is dedicated to Iowa’s cold case victims, their family members and friends, and the countless law enforcement officials and others who’ve committed lives to making a difference and seeing justice served.
Thank you for taking time to visit.