This cold case “Anniversary” blog post was written by an ICC volunteer using the material from Jody Ewing’s Case Summary on Jane Wakefield.
Every year, scientific methods at DCI labs advance significantly. Cases once thought to be colder than cold now have a chance for resolution.
The tiniest amount of DNA, fabric, or hair can be analyzed, not just to identify perpetrators but to identify remains.
The 1975 disappearance and presumed murder of 26-year-old Iowa City resident Jane Ellen Wakefield might be one of those cases where renewed examination of evidence could be productive.
The petite public school teacher vanished after a bike ride with friends on September 5, 1975.
Iowa City Police received a tip from a credible informant that Jane was murdered and her cremated remains scatted along I-80 north of Iowa City. A section of the highway was combed for clues, but results were not made public.
In January of 1976 — four months after Jane disappeared — police searched an Iowa City bar where a female suspect worked.
In addition, searches were made of the apartment of Jane’s soon-to-be ex-husband, John Wakefield, as well as of Magoo’s Lounge and the Four Cushions Billiard Parlor which he operated.
Investigators retrieved five vacuum cleaners and household items.
Ashes collected from an incinerator contained bone fragments and what was believed to be a tooth filling.
However, lacking today’s sophisticated technology, labs at the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (at it was then known) found nothing conclusive to identify the minute evidence as the remains of Jane Wakefield.
Authorities believed they knew who was responsible for Jane’s disappearance, but filed no charges due to lack of evidence that would sustain a court trial.
Today that evidence might be available through DNA analysis of all that is believed to remain of Jane Wakefield.
If you have any information about the disappearance and suspected murder of Jane Ellen Wakefield, contact the Iowa City Police at 319-356-5276 or the Iowa DPS Missing Person Information Clearinghouse.