Intro by Iowa Cold Cases

Lisa McCuddin with son Davontrez and daughter MarkasiaCourtesy photo Becky McCuddin
Lisa McCuddin with her son Davontrez and daughter Markasia in early 2004.

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 will mark a sorrowful milestone anniversary for one North Central Iowa family.

It will represent 10 years since Lisa McCuddin — just four days shy of her 24th birthday — was shot and killed while riding as a passenger in a car on its way to the Fort Dodge Holiday Inn where Lisa and a friend planned to have breakfast.

Lisa and the driver, 29-year-old Fred Murray, were the second and third victims shot that day near the hotel, though only Lisa lost her life.

Employed by the PS Academy for Children in Fort Dodge, Lisa left behind a 4-year-old daughter, Markasia, a 10-month-old son, Davontrez, and many beloved family members and friends.

In the following guest blog post, Lisa’s sister, Jennifer McCuddin, tells Iowa Cold Cases what she remembers about that day and what has transpired in the decade since she lost her sister.

I Can Remember That Morning…

Guest Blog by Jennifer McCuddin

It is hard to believe it has been 10 years already and I can remember that morning when I received a phone call from my mom. It is also hard to believe what you remember…and don’t remember…when something tragic happens.

davontrez-lisa-mccuddins-son-10-1-2014Courtesy photo Jennifer McCuddin
Lisa’s son, Davontrez, today. He plays the same instrument in school that his mother played.

I can remember my mom telling me that Lisa had been shot and they were at the hospital and she was going to have my brother and his dad pick me up and I kept thinking, “Why do they need to pick me up? I have my car here.”

markasia-lisa-mccuddins-daughter-10-1-2014Courtesy photo Jennifer McCuddin
Lisa’s daughter, Markasia, recently attended her first high school dance.

During the whole car ride (which was about 5 minutes long) none of us talked. I kept thinking “who shoots someone and where was she shot and I wonder how long she will have to stay in the hospital and I better get some extra beds made so that my niece and nephew can stay while Lisa recuperates.” There were a lot of things going on in my head but none of it was that she was going to die; that kind of stuff doesn’t happen to my family.

When we got to the hospital and they led us to “that room” I knew it was bad. I won’t go into details of those hours in the room or the feeling I felt when it was just my mom and me and the doctors started to come in and talk with us. It is something I never want to go through again.

I don’t remember much after that except having to listen to my dad call my grandma (who had just traveled to Ohio to visit with family) and tell her that my sister had been shot and killed. The whole week was a blur…I can remember bits and pieces…lots of people coming to visit…but that is all.

The day of the visitation, Lisa’s childhood best friend, Dani, showed up and I can remember thinking I wonder what she is doing in Fort Dodge and then it dawned on me my sister is gone and she is here because she was Lisa’s true friend.

markasia-and-davontrez-courtesy-jenn-mccuddin-10-1-2014Courtesy photo Jennifer McCuddin
Markasia and Davontrez have developed personalities similar to their mother’s, even though they were too young to remember her. Both have flourished in a McCuddin household filled with love and family.

The funeral was a haze. I just remember sitting there thinking who here knows something or who here was involved and how dare them come to my sister’s funeral and act like nothing happened. These are the things I don’t tell Lisa’s children when they ask about her. We make sure we tell them the funny stories about Lisa and her likes and dislikes.

It is crazy to think that even though Markasia was 4 years old and Davontrez was 10 months when she was taken from them, they are so much like her. Markasia has the attitude (good and bad) and Davontrez can be just as stubborn as she was.

In the 10 years they have gone from a baby boy in diapers to a young boy who has started his first year in middle school and playing the same instrument in band as Lisa did when she was in school, and a little girl just starting preschool to a beautiful young lady who just went to her very first high school dance.

Lisa’s memory will always live on in her children and in our hearts. I just wish someone would do the right thing and come forward and tell the police what they need so we can have closure.

Jennifer "Jenn" McCuddin

Jennifer “Jenn” McCuddin

Jennifer McCuddin recently established a new Facebook page for Lisa. Please take a moment to visit Justice for Lisa McCuddin.

Anyone with any information about Lisa’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, the Fort Dodge Police Department at (515) 573-1426, or Webster County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-542-9702.

Read more about the homicide investigation here.

3 Responses to “I Can Remember…” A Guest Blog by Jennifer McCuddin

  1. Theresa says:

    How trivial is Branstadt’s protected status for speeding versus an avalanche of injustices his protection has triggered. I will remember Lisa McCuddin’s case for the egos that felt above the law to shoot an innocent Mom, and the egos that felt above the law to remove someone working towards justice for Lisa McCuddin, and those that love her. By allowing the removal of Hedlund, the system verifies psychopathy for all concerned citizens. With these thoughts in mind I wonder – can true ethics prevail to find justice for Lisa McCuddin, her family, and friends? Lady Justice may be blindfolded, but we the people are not.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Theresa, thank you for understanding my reasoning for including the information about Branstad. I do my very best to leave politics out of case summaries, but given the fact that Larry Hedlund was the lead DCI investigator in Lisa’s murder (and went out of his way to keep the family informed), I felt readers deserved to know why he’s no longer listed as the point-of-contact in her case. Even now, whenever I hear his name mentioned in the news, Lisa’s unsolved murder immediately comes to mind because he was so committed to seeing justice served for Lisa and her family. He’s a good man.

      It doesn’t matter how many pressers the governor’s office releases saying Branstad’s speeding vehicle had nothing to do with Hedlund’s firing; the most basic facts appear to suggest otherwise. Hedlund had never before been demoted, suspended, or even reprimanded in his 25-year career with the DCI, and was then forced out just five days after spotting the black SUV with tinted windows doing a “hard ninety” in a 65 mph zone (which neither Hedlund nor the pursuing Iowa State Patrol officer knew carried the governor and lieutenant governor until finally catching up with the SUV and then backing off without stopping them). Branstad’s not-so-discreet retaliation tactics no longer surprise Iowans, and Hedlund was neither his first nor last victim.

      In attempts to be fair here … When I worked as a correspondent for the Sioux City Journal, I spent some time with Branstad during his 1983–1999 term and found him quite personable back then. I admired his hands-on involvement in small communities, covered several of his trips to western Iowa (rides on keelboat during Onawa’s Lewis & Clark Festival, his trips to schools where he actively participated in young students’ projects and other local events), and I wrote respectful articles about his dedicated efforts to understand Iowans’ needs. But as Theresa mentioned above, it’s a sad day indeed when something so seemingly trivial — just another vehicle speeding down a highway and a law enforcement official doing his job — bruises an ego and lets loose an avalanche of injustice. Lisa McCuddin’s family, Larry Hedlund’s unblemished 25-year career with the DCI, and the 29 Iowa counties Hedlund faithfully served got blindsided by a travesty of justice. Still, I have hope and believe Lisa’s murder will soon be solved. It’s time to let her family put her ashes to rest.

  2. heather,elliott says:,,for.lisa

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