Dennis Clougherty. Helen Morrow. Eugene Martin. Three victims, three lives gone, and one shared date families can’t forget: August 12.

Twenty-three-year-old Dennis Clougherty was a Vietnam vet preparing to start graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Helen Morrow, 55, surely never imagined her fate when offering employment to a hired hand. And Eugene Martin, only 13, simply wanted to make extra money to attend the Iowa State Fair.

Family members have long since buried Clougherty and Morrow. Eugene Martin’s parents lived and died waiting for answers that have yet to follow them to the grave.

Dennis Clougherty, a 23-year-old Vietnam vet and soon-to-be graduate student, was shot five times while hitchhiking through Iowa.

Dennis Clougherty, a 23-year-old Vietnam vet and soon-to-be graduate student, was shot five times while hitchhiking through Iowa on his way to Torrington, Wyoming.

August 12, 1974 — Dennis Clougherty

Around 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon, August 12, 1974, Dennis Clougherty left Madison, Wisconsin, with plans to hitchhike to Torrington, Wyoming, to retrieve his motorcycle. The bike had broken down in Torrington earlier that year and he’d had to leave it behind for repairs.

The 905-mile route between the two cities — a 15-hour trip on Interstate 80 — would be the fastest, but Clougherty chose the familiar Highway 20, perhaps in the hopes of catching a ride with someone he knew. From Torrington, Clougherty planned to ride the bike to Detroit, Michigan, where he’d promised to attend a weekend family wedding.

Clougherty never made it to the wedding, or to Torrington, or even past the first day of his trip; sometime between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and midnight, he was shot five times in the chest and left along Union Road south of First Street in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A passing motorist discovered his body the following morning. Some of his personal belongs, including a backpack, a clothes bag and Clougherty’s motorcycle helmet, were located approximately five miles south on Viking Road.

An investigation confirmed a motorist picked him up about 7 p.m. Monday while traveling westbound on Highway 20 near Dubuque, and gave him a ride to Independence, IA, dropping Clougherty off at a café there around 8:15 p.m. Clougherty ate at the then-Rush Park Café and left Independence around 9:15 p.m., hitchhiking westbound on Highway 20. Another motorist picked him up and drove him to Waterloo, dropping him off at the Highway 20 and Highway 63 intersection.

Here, two male subjects in their early 20s, driving a brownish/gold 1962-1964 Chevrolet car — possibly a four-door with beige interior — picked up Clougherty around 10:30 p.m. The young military vet and soon-to-be graduate student was never seen alive again.

August 12, 1980 — Helen Morrow

In Eldon, Iowa, witnesses saw Herman Pierce, 48, leave the home of Mrs. Helen Morrow, 55, the evening of August 12, 1980, just moments before flames began shooting from Morrow’s two-story frame house.

Authorities found Mrs. Morrow lying on a bed in a first-floor bedroom, and an autopsy report concluded she died of smoke inhalation.

Police arrested Pierce and held him in jail on an intoxication charge, and though county prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against Pierce on August 26, they reconsidered and decided to convene a grand jury to hear evidence in the case. It was a move they later would regret.

On Friday, October 3, 1980, a four-man, three-woman Wapello County Grand Jury failed to return an indictment against Pierce. He was released from custody and Helen Morrow’s case remains unsolved.

Eugene Martin

Eugene Martin disappeared August 12, 1984, while out delivering newspapers.

August 12, 1984 — Eugene Martin

Eugene Martin got an early start at 5 a.m. to deliver the Des Moines Register newspaper on his regular paper route. His older brother normally accompanied him, but on this day Eugene went alone; the Iowa State Fair was in town, and Eugene wanted to earn some extra money to spend at the fair.

Sometime between 5 and 5:45 a.m., residents living near Southwest 12th Street and Highview Drive observed Gene speaking to a clean-cut white male in his 30s. The teen folded papers as he spoke to the man, and the witnesses said the conversation appeared friendly — almost like a “father-son” sort of conversation.

Less than an hour later, sometime between 6:10 and 6:15, the boy’s newspaper bag was found on the ground outside Des Moines — 10 folded papers still inside.

Authorities issued a nationwide bulletin for a man described as between 30 and 40 years old, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, clean shaven and with a medium build. Federal agents wondered if Eugene’s disappearance might be connected to that of missing Register paperboy Johnny Gosch, 12, who’d gone missing two years earlier on September 5, 1982.

Eugene Martin's aunt, Jeannie McDowell

In July 2010, Eugene Martin’s aunt, Jeannie McDowell, told WHO-TV’s Aaron Brilbeck she believed her dying brother, Eugene’s father, Don Martin, still clung to life with hopes of learning news about his son before he passed. Don Martin died two days after Christmas that same year.

Eugene Martin’s aunt, Jeannie McDowell, told WHO-TV’s Aaron Brilbeck in a July 2010 Iowa Cold Cases segment that she believed her dying brother — Eugene’s father Don Martin, in the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and also suffering from cancer — was hanging on and needed some type of closure in his son’s disappearance before he could let himself go. Gene’s mother, Janice, had recently died from diabetes without ever knowing what happened to her child.

Don continued to read and clip from daily papers every article or reference he could find about Eugene, McDowell said.

But like his wife, Don Martin died still waiting for answers; he passed away on December 27, 2010.

Many Iowans believe both Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin were kidnapped and sold into a pedophile sex ring, though nothing has ever been proven to support the theory.

Martin’s remaining family members — like Johnny Gosch’s mother Noreen — continue to wait and hope for the one strong lead that breaks open the case and provides long-awaited answers and justice.


Anyone with information regarding Dennis Clougherty’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Cedar Falls Police Department at (319) 273-8612.

Information concerning Helen Morrow’s unsolved murder should be directed to the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 684-4350.

Tips on the Eugene Martin case may be submitted to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010.

Jay and Jaymie GrahlmanCourtesy photo Shannon Salmons
Jay Grahlman with daughter Jaymie

I always know this day is coming long before it arrives. With a list of unsolved cases now at 615, one would think it would be difficult to keep them all straight. With some — where few details are available — the answer would be yes. But with others — the ones where I’ve had the opportunity to review autopsy reports and other documentation and even gotten to know the victim’s family members — I not only know the cases intimately, but feel the unsettled rustling deep down inside as an anniversary date approaches.

Jaymie GrahlmanCourtesy photo Shannon Salmons
Jaymie Grahlman

The Jay and Jaymie Grahlman double homicide is one such case.

On a day like today — the 9th anniversary since the arson fire in their home that would claim both their lives — my mind plays out different scenarios in my head: What Shannon Salmons (Jaymie’s mother) might be doing at this very moment … is she looking through photo albums? Putting flowers on Jaymie’s grave? Writing in a journal or somewhere else about how another year has passed with no answers?

And what about Steve and Lori Salmons, Shannon’s brother and sister-in-law, who sat at Jaymie’s hospital bedside until Shannon arrived and hospital personnel eventually turned off the life support once they’d had the chance to say their final goodbyes? Or what about Duane Grahlman, who’d spent that last day with his brother Jay, barbecuing outside despite the chilly weather?

Courtesy photo Shannon Salmons
Jay Grahlman with his children Leanna and Boseck (back row) and in front, Ida Mae and Jaymie.

This case is one of the tough ones. There are still more questions than answers when it comes down to who started the fire. Or how Jaymie ended up lying in the bathtub in a supine position, stretched out full length, as if simply taking a nap. Or why the burns were confined solely to the front of her six-year-old body. And why were there no burns on her feet? Why no singeing to her beautiful long brown hair?

This case did not end when neighbor Brian Zirtzman — charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson — was acquitted on all three charges. The double homicide remains an open case — one that continues to baffle authorities, who still aren’t convinced Zirtzman started the fire. Like nearly all arson cases where a body is discovered after the fire, this one also has the presupposition that the fire was set to cover up another more heinous crime.

This case is far from over.

Answers will be exhumed from the smoke and mirrors that once reflected and furthered fiery lies. This time, though, when the flames wane and weaken to all but crackling cinders, truth will find a backdraft and burst forth justice in a mighty blaze.

Bill and Kay Wood

On October 10, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing
Bill and Kay Wood Courtesy photo KCCI Channel 8 Des Moines
Bill and Kaidena Wood, married just three years.

Bill and Kay Wood

Homicide and Missing Person Case

James William “Bill” Wood, 79 (Homicide)

Kaidena “Kay” Lozelle Wood, 72 (Missing)
Missing From: 2698 Highway R-63
Norwalk, IA
Warren County
Height: 5’02″
Weight: 128 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Sex: Female
Hair: Gray or Partially Gray
Scars/Marks: Vertical abdominal scar
Prosthetics: Hearing aids in both ears
Case Number: 2011-044536
NamUs MP # 11855
Incident Type: Involuntary disappearance
Missing Since: July 30, 2011

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Late on Saturday, July 30, 2011, the home of Bill and Kay Wood of rural Norwalk, Iowa, was destroyed by fire. Around midnight and into early Sunday morning, five fire departments responded to 2698 Highway R-63 in Greenfield Township just south of Des Moines’ city limits and the Des Moines International Airport.

The fire extinguished, the couple were nowhere to be found. They’d last been seen midmorning Saturday at an auction house in Stuart, Iowa. An auction flyer depicted a number of pricey items — everything from old guns and diamonds to Indian artifacts and fancy furniture.

Courtesy photo KCCI Des Moines
The Wood’s red Chevy pickup turned up at a Kansas City, Mo. apartment complex the day after the fire.

On Sunday, July 31, 2011, Bill and Kay’s red Chevrolet Silverado pickup turned up at a ritzy apartment complex in Kansas City, Missouri. Witnesses told detectives they’d seen the man with the pickup, and described him as being in his late 40s to early 60s with a slender build, short gray and white hair, and between 6 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 6 inches tall.

That same day, officials discovered a body amongst the charred remains of the couple’s home.

DCI agents began going door to door to question neighbors Monday morning, August 1, 2011, and Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Michael Motsinger announced Monday afternoon that the body found was burned too badly to be identified during an autopsy conducted that afternoon.

DNA testing would be done to see if the body was that of Bill or Kay Wood.

Motsinger also said the fire had been termed suspicious, something the community already suspected.

Two hundred miles south, authorities sought out the “person of interest” seen at the Kansas City apartment building. Bill and Kay’s relatives and a number of volunteers spent days searching the area surrounding the Wood’s home.

Young at Heart and In Love

Prior to their marriage, Bill and Kay had both been widowed. They’d just celebrated their third wedding anniversary July 14 — only 16 days before they vanished.

Family members described them as deeply in love, often holding hands like teenagers.

Warren County
Warren County in Iowa 
Norwalk in Warren and Polk counties
Norwalk in Warren County

They’d chosen to live in Bill’s home in rural Norwalk south of Des Moines, which quickly filled up with mementoes of each of their lives. Kay — who’d worked at Dahl’s grocery store on Fleur Drive — collected china dolls. Bill, a retired ironworker currently employed with J.W. Perry, Inc. in Des Moines, kept a 1940s gas pump in the front yard and also had a Model A Ford he drove in parades.

J.W. Perry General Manager Andrew Knott told KCCI that Wood’s co-workers were “somber,” and said the fact that Wood was about to turn 80 told a lot about him. “The fact that he’s still working at his age,” Knott said.

Co-workers had planned a surprise 80th birthday party for Bill, scheduled for the following weekend. Bill would have turned 80 years old August 5.

Devastating News

On Friday, August 19, 2011, the Iowa Department of Public Safety announced in a press release that the body found in the home had been positively identified as that of Bill Wood.

Autopsy reports showed Wood died of multiple gunshot wounds, though he was not shot in the head as an initial press release stated.

When DCI agents informed family members of their findings that Friday morning, Bill Wood’s brother Henry Wood told KCCI that everyone broke down.

“It’s one thing to think it, but it’s another when somebody comes out and says this is what happened,” Bill Wood said. Wood said it also hurt to hear his brother died in such a violent way.

“It really hurt to think, you know, somebody shot my brother,” he said in the KCCI interview. “Now we know that he was shot, I guess we find some comfort in that that would be better than burning. We hope it was quick. We hope it was painless.”

Kay Wood (Courtesy Iowa Dept. of Public Safety)

Kay Wood (Courtesy Iowa Dept. of Public Safety)

Wood said the family would never have closure until Kay was found.

In his comments to the press, DCI Agent Motsinger said officers working the investigation were continuing their efforts to locate her.

“We remain hopeful a suspect will be found and encourage anyone with information to contact DCI or the Warren County Sheriff’s Office,” Motsinger said.

Kay’s daughter Patty Shaw expressed the family’s lost hope after the DCI announced the findings.

“I think in our hearts we were hoping they were together just because you want that,” said Shaw. “If they’re going to go, you want them to be together.”

“He liked nice stuff”

Three weeks after the fire, why questions continued to plague the couple’s family. They explored possible scenarios related to the Stuart auction.

“I think there is a really big chance that something happened in Stuart,” Henry Wood told KCCI in a story that aired Aug. 22. “Bill probably has some antiques that are very rare. He liked nice stuff. He probably had expensive stuff. If he found something he wanted, he bought it.”

Courtesy photo DCI / KCCI Des Moines
Witnesses told detectives they’d seen a man with the Wood’s pickup, and described him as being in his late 40s to early 60s with a slender build, short gray and white hair.

The family wondered if Bill and Kay’s love for expensive antiques somehow may have contributed to Bill’s death and Kay’s disappearance.

“Just somebody there that may have seen that they bought something expensive or they could’ve even been talking to somebody and mentioned what they have,” Bill Wood’s sister, Carolyn Harkin, told KCCI. “It has to be a robbery of some sort.”

Family members went to the Stuart City Hall where they posted sketches of the man police said was seen walking away from the Wood’s pick-up in Kansas City. The Iowa DCI still didn’t know the man’s identity.

A month dragged on with many unanswered questions.

Maintaining hope

The couple’s families told KCCI on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 that they’re doing what they can to not get caught up in the rumors surrounding the case.

“We have to continue to be focused and as composed as we possibly can be so we can hear everything that’s happening, see everything that’s happening…so that if someone does call we don’t get caught up in that call,” said Kay’s daughter, Lisa Harris.

Harris said she and her siblings are determined to find their mother and bring her home, regardless of whether it is to get her medical attention or to give her a proper burial.

They wait.

Reward Offered

On Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, the Wood’s families held a press conference announcing a reward fund they’d established. They hope a reward might motivate someone to come forward with information. The fund consists of both cash donations and pledges payable upon conviction.

If you would like to donate, visit woodrewardfund.com.

Information Needed

Anyone with information concerning Bill Wood’s unsolved homicide or Kaidena Wood’s disappearance is asked to call Deputy Brian Voss at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (investigating agency) at (515) 961-1122, or Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Chris Thomas at (641) 342-6263.

Sources:

 

Copyright © 2014 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Sherrie and Victoria Martin

On February 25, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing
Dubuque County in Iowa

Dubuque County

Sherrie Lee Martin and Victoria Lynne Martin

Double Homicide

Sherrie Lee Martin, 8 YOA
Victoria Lynne Martin, 4 YOA
Case # 65-00461
Dubuque, IA
Dubuque County
March 6, 1965

Sisters Sherrie Lee Martin, 8, and Victoria Lynne Martin, 4, were killed on an early Saturday morning when someone set fire to the family’s Dubuque, Iowa home.

This case summary is currently being rewritten.

Lloyd Patrick

On February 23, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing

Mahaska County in Iowa

Lloyd John Patrick

Homicide

Lloyd John Patrick
85 YOA
DCI Case # 82-05758
Rural Route, Mahaska, IA
Mahaska County
October 27, 1982

On October 27, 1982, Lloyd John Patrick’s body was found in his house after a fire consumed his home. An autopsy revealed Patrick died from gunshot wounds and not injuries sustained during the fire.

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Lloyd Patrick’s murder was one of approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new 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 resolving 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.

About Lloyd Patrick

Lloyd John Patrick was born June 17, 1897, in Mahaska, Iowa.

He married Jennette Esther Denburger on October 15, 1924.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Lloyd Patrick’s unsolved murder please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or e-mail dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

Sources:

 

Ross McConnell

On February 16, 2011, in , by Jody Ewing
Polk County in Iowa
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines map
Des Moines in Polk County

Ross Reynold McConnell

Homicide

Ross Reynold McConnell
47 YOA
1604 Tichenor St.
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Case # 71-29236
June 26, 1971

Early Saturday morning, June 26, 1971, Ross R. McConnell, 47, awoke at 1:30 a.m. in his Des Moines home and discovered he was on fire. He ran to a neighbor’s house to summon help.

McConnell, who suffered second-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, died later that day after being transported to Broadlawns Polk County Hospital.

Police and fire investigators both said the odor of gasoline was present at McConnell’s home, and that there were unusual burned patches in McConnell’s yard. The case — cited as arson — expanded to include homicide after McConnell died.

Officials said witnesses provided descriptions of two automobiles seen in the area shortly before the fire, but no one was ever held accountable for the crime.

ross-mcconnell-gravestoneCourtesy photo Pamela Schisel, findagrave.com
Ross Reynold McConnell was buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Des Moines.
About Ross McConnell

Ross Reynold McConnell was born November 21, 1923, and served as a private with the U.S. Army during World War II.

Services for McConnell were held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 10, at the Dahlstrom Funeral Home with interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

* The Des Moines Police Department lists McConnell’s date of death as June 26, 1971. It is unknown why his gravestone bears the date July 7.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Ross McConnell’s unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864.

Sources:
  • Des Moines Police Department, personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial
  • “Funeral Services,” Des Moines Register, July 10, 1971
  • “D.M. Man Burned Severely in Fire,” Des Moines Register, June 27, 1971

 

Copyright © 2014 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.