Alice Van Alstine

Alice Van Alstine

Thirty-four years ago on a cold Friday night, March 26, 1976, Alice Mae Van Alstine — a former “Minutemen” sympathizer who’d recently abandoned the right-wing paramilitary organization — tucked her children into bed at their 29th Street Des Moines apartment and then vanished into thin air, never to be seen nor heard from again. Her purse and money were found in the apartment, and, despite the near-freezing outside temperature, she’d also disappeared without her coat or shoes.

Neighbors found three of her children alone in the apartment on Sunday — the fourth was a patient in a state mental institution — and reported Alice as missing that same day.

A July 1977 Des Moines Tribune article quoted the young mother’s father, Howard Barnes, as saying that before Alice vanished she’d told him, “Dad, [the Minutemen] are going to kill me.”

At the time she’d confided in him, Barnes said he couldn’t picture Minutemen “that vicious a bunch,” but fully believed it after his daughter went missing and after driving more than 15,000 miles talking to people about Alice and her connections to the Minutemen.

Based on his discoveries, Barnes began to fear he, too, may be killed or his hand-built home in Lovilia bombed. So convinced of the Minutemen’s involvement in his daughter’s disappearance and murder, the World War II veteran took to sleeping each night on a sofa for more than a year — a loaded .30-caliber carbine at his side.

Today’s Iowa Minutemen — whose agenda basically remains the same — no longer work underground and, in fact, have found a key supporter in an Iowa congressman who shares their ideology — and publicly at that. His Commander-in-Chief, however, didn’t share the group’s extremist ideology; President George W. Bush voiced concerns about the xenophobic paramilitary organization, and in 2006 referred to the group as ”vigilantes.”

Did Alice’s desire to break free lead to her murder? Read more about her story here.

If you have any information on the disappearance and presumed murder of Alice Mae Van Alstine, contact the Des Moines Police Department, the Iowa DCI Missing Person Information Clearing House, or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

2 Responses to Alice Van Alstine: “Dad, the Minutemen are going to kill me.”

  1. Rob McGinnis says:

    I graduated from Albia High School with this girl in 1965. I thought I knew her. But, looking at the picture, I don’t remember her. I can’t locate the yearbook yet, but she must have made some big changes in her appearance after graduating. Keep an eye on Andre. Is he in good health? Maybe he’s the kind to make a deathbed confession when his health goes. Maybe his buddies have already thought of that.

  2. Ron Hyatt says:

    Lee Andre and I were in the same class at Lincoln High School. I’ve not had any contact with Lee after graduation in 1961. I now live in Bakersfield California.

    I first heard about the loss of Alice Mae Van Alstine, not by name but as Lee Andre’s wife, about 40 years after graduation. I was relaying the story, as I had heard it, to an acquaintance here in Bakersfield. My acquaintance told me that he had heard the story before from a co-worker that is a relative of Alice.

    I post this comment so that I would check the box for followup e-mails.

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