A Day for Death

On April 26, 2012, in Anniversaries, by Jody Ewing

Four Iowans lost their lives at the hands of others on this day in history. Methods of murder were particularly gruesome: an axe to the head while sleeping, a stab wound to the chest, a sledgehammer to the head, and even what appeared at first to be a simple case of falling down a staircase, but in fact turned out to be a gunshot to the head and neck.

Deborah Simmons' tombstoneCourtesy photo Chuck, findagrave.com
Deborah Simmons’ tombstone

The primary suspect in two of the four cases involved a close family member.

One hundred and thirty-three years ago in 1879, Deborah Simmons, 62, of Waterloo, Iowa, retired for the evening with her husband, George, also 62. They owned and operated the New York House, a two-story hotel and stopping place for area farmers, and had a small bedroom off the dining room on the first floor. Their daughter Abby Simmons, 22, also had a bedroom on the first floor’s south side. Son George Simmons, Jr., 26, slept upstairs in the frame house’s northwest corner.

George Sr. awakened some time between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. to what he thought was Deborah’s snoring. When he tried to awaken her, she made gasping sounds, and he called for his children; George Jr. ran outside to alarm neighbors.

Though an officer found the outside cellar door unlocked and the door from the cellar to the kitchen open, no footprints or other clues existed in the basement. Evidence existed that Deborah Simmons had been struck in the head with an axe, and that the blow occurred by a left-handed person. George Jr. was left handed, and was known to have quarreled with his mother about his recent divorce; he’d blamed his mother for the break-up.

David Redowl

David Redowl

A family feud also factored in to the evening when 27-year-old David Redowl of Sioux City was killed.

David and his 24-year-old sister, Sonja, both lived at home with their mother at 610 West 3rd Street. At approximately 2:00 a.m. on April 26, 1997, David and Sonja began arguing in the home’s back yard. Eventually, the disagreement escalated to a physical altercation. David soon fell to the ground, unconscious; he’d been stabbed in the chest.

Emergency personnel received a call at 2:07 a.m., but by the time authorities arrived, witnesses found it hard to agree on what really happened.

Michael J. Booth

Two hundred miles away in Des Moines, residents in an apartment building located at 510 15th Street noticed a foul odor coming from Apt. # 21. They notified the maintenance man and asked him to investigate.

Inside lay a man with injuries so extensive and decomposition so advanced he was unrecognizable. He’d been struck in the head … with a sledgehammer.

The victim was 45-year-old Michael Booth, a man his sister described as “smart, charming, and could sell anyone the Brooklyn bridge.”

Barbara Kay Brim, 53, died on April 26, 2001, after being shot in the head and neck the day before inside her rural Hamilton County home 15 miles northeast of Webster City. She’d just shared lunch with her husband, Larry, before he went out to a field to move farm equipment. When Larry came back to the house, he found his wife badly injured at the bottom of the  inside stairs.

Barbara Brim

Barbara Brim

Barb was still alive when law enforcement arrived, and after being taken to a Webster City hospital, doctors discovered she’d actually been shot rather than having fallen down the steps as her husband first thought.

Larry Brim later discovered his wallet and some other items had been stolen from the home, and community members wondered if the killer had entered the home — believing no one was home — and then shot Barbara once she spotted them.

Larry Brim was eliminated as a suspect, and neighbors pitched in to help him with spring planting that year.

Our condolences go out to these victims’ family members and friends on this solemn day that serves as a reminder of justice not yet served.

One Response to A Day for Death

  1. biopro says:

    Wow what a story!

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