Welcome to Iowa Cold Cases

Thank you for taking time to visit Iowa Cold Cases, the state’s first and foremost repository of Iowa’s unsolved murders and persons missing under mysterious circumstances.

Founded in 2005, our goal is to provide case summaries for each victim while encouraging those with information to contact appropriate law enforcement officials with any known details about the crime.

Villisca murder houseCourtesy The Villisca Review
This Villisca Review article, published June 13, 1912, told the story of what eventually became Iowa’s most notorious unsolved murder case.

Here you’ll find victims’ stories and summaries compiled by data from police departments, county sheriffs’ offices, Crime Stoppers, newspaper archives, victims’ family members and friends, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s former Cold Case Unit. Cases are cross-referenced by name, year, decade, city, and county to make them more easily accessible to fellow writers and researchers or those who wish to learn more about a specific case.

Case summaries for decades-old cases would not exist if not for the countless journalists who doggedly pursued investigators for details, tracked down public records by shoe-leather reporting, and published their findings in newspapers long preceding today’s Internet search engines.

Though no statewide database summarizing all Iowa’s known unsolved murders existed online before ICC, we would be remiss in not thanking the hundreds of journalists and law enforcement officials whose dedication to profiling yesteryear’s victims made it possible to provide solid source information for the very cases we feature yet today.

We Remember: Upcoming Cold Case Anniversaries

Listed below are upcoming cold case anniversaries and, where noted, birthdays the victims would have celebrated.

Valerie Peterson
Hit and Run
Manson, IA
Calhoun County
May 6, 1971
Barbara Lenz
Barbara L. Lenz
Age at Report: 31
Missing From:
Woodbine, IA
Case # 89-03215
May 6, 1989
Ronette Peterson
Ronette Peterson
22 YOA
Disappeared from Madrid, IA
Found in Lakeland, FL
May 7, 1986
Missing Person
Crystal L. Steward
Age at Report: 11
Missing From: Burlington, IA
Des Moines County
May 8, 2001
Miguel Vasquez
19 YOA
1172 19th St.
Des Moines, IA
Case # 05-16833
May 8, 2005
Missing Person
Louise Cruise
Age at Report: 15
Missing From:
Des Moines, IA
Missing Since:
May 8, 2012
Earl Thelander
Earl Thelander, 80
Monona County, IA
Crime Date: 8/28/07
DOD: 9/01/07
Would have celebrated birthday May 9
Lana J. Anderson
43 YOA
200 Dickman Rd
Des Moines, IA
Case # 1991-19466
May 10, 1991
Jamar Magett
Jamar Magett
19 YOA
1400 blk 5th Ave SE
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
May 10, 1999
Dennis First
Dennis First
64 YOA
2249 C St. SW #5
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
May 11, 2007
Jared Parks
Jared Parks
18 YOA
Interstate 35/80
Urbandale, IA
Polk County
May 11, 2009
Charles Gearhart gravestone
Charles Gearhart
89 YOA
422 First St. SW
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
May 13, 1970

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