Cold Case Victim Leaves Behind the Greatest Gift

On December 26, 2010, in Anniversaries, by Jody Ewing

The day after Christmas 35 years ago today, 19-year-old Michael Edward Carr spent part of the evening catching up with a friend over drinks. With no brothers of his own to chum around with over the holidays — his five siblings were all girls — Mike Carr enjoyed relaxing at the “Filling Station” pub in Estherville, Iowa.

Emmet County in Iowa

A Des Moines native, Carr had moved with his family to Estherville two years earlier. He’d gone to work for the Des Moines based catalog merchandiser “Ardan’s” while trying to figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

Shortly before 10 p.m., Carr told his friend he needed to head on home. He was on foot, but it wasn’t that much of a stretch using Highway 9. Carr always walked on the road’s east-bound side just to be safe, but this night would be different.

Estherville in Emmet County

Estherville in Emmet County

At approximately 10 p.m., Carr was struck by a fast moving vehicle. The bumper’s force propelled him first into the windshield and then up and over the car’s top. What happened next continues to raise plenty of speculation and far more questions than answers.

The driver stopped, but didn’t stay. He or she did, however, take time to position the body in what could be interpreted as either an act of kindness or some type of ominous message.

A local couple found Carr alongside the road, his head resting atop the curb like it was a pillow, and his arms folded gracefully across his chest — much like a body in a coffin. But, he was still alive.

The Emmet County sheriff said Carr had been repositioned there, leading officials to believe whoever hit the young man most likely knew him.

Carr was transported to Rochester, Minnesota, where he lay unresponsive in a hospital bed. The doctors had done all they could.

Elsewhere, another man lay awaiting what seemed like its own death sentence; dialysis had taken him about as far as it could, but without a kidney transplant, and soon, his prospects appeared bleak.

Carr passed away one week later on Friday, January 2, 1976. His family knew how much he loved life and what he would have wanted; he’d choose life, even if it wasn’t his own.

One of Carr’s kidneys was donated to the man so desperate for a transplant. Through Michael’s death, another man could live.

Michael Carr’s family received two anonymous letters following their son’s death, which they handed over to police. The family knew one letter had come from a girl Michael may have dated; she’d stated in the letter how nice he was and how sorry she was about what had happened to him.

The family described the other letter’s contents as “strange.”

In addition, Father Al Grendler of Estherville’s Catholic Church received a $500 donation to go to the Carr family, though the donor wished to remain anonymous and Grendler respected that wish. He did, however, tell the family that the donation was not “guilt money.”

Thirty-five years later, Carr’s case remains unsolved.

If you have any information you think might help solve this case, please contact the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department at 712-362-2639.

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