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Today’s guest blog post is written by Julie Loose, sister of Iowa cold case victim Kim Loose, with additional comments from some of Kim’s other siblings. Kim, one of 10 siblings with nine still living at home in Blue Grass, Iowa, was just 16 when she died Sept. 26, 1986 from multiple injuries after leaving a friend’s birthday party.
Kim was last seen alive in the company of 20-year-old Jeff Daily, also of Blue Grass, whom she’d only met the previous week through some mutual friends. Daily claimed Kim died after falling from a vehicle — a yellow Camaro he’d borrowed from a friend — as it drove over a parking lot speed bump at about 10 miles per hour.
Kim’s injuries included three separate major traumas that alone would have proved fatal. They included:
Many thanks to Julie for sharing such a personal story of grief, loss, lies, and an unwavering commitment to seeing justice served in her sister’s tragic death. All photos courtesy Julie Loose.
By Julie Loose
Every day, missing you is hard, but today is even harder after 29 years and finally knowing the truth — that your death was no accident. In this last year, people have shared with me what they know, and I’m appalled at how your case slipped through wide-open cracks for nearly three decades.
The night you were killed, we were told you died in a freak car accident, that you’d fallen from a vehicle and broken your neck. It is a parents’ worst nightmare to lose a child, but I pray no family has to wait nearly 30 years for the truth.
There has been no justice since 29 years ago today when you left for your friend’s 16th birthday party, Sept. 26, 1986, and then lay dead on concrete pavement less than three hours later.You had your whole life ahead of you as a psychologist, and you would have made such a difference in so many people’s lives. I know why you chose that specific career field, and remember the joy and pride you took in helping care for our two younger autistic brothers. They loved you as much as you loved them.
I remember standing by myself in the hospital room where your lifeless body lay on the gurney. I felt shock at having just lost not only my 16-year-old sister, but also my very best friend. I wasn’t able to hug you. I hadn’t been able to say ‘I love you’ one last time. We hadn’t been able to say our final goodbyes.
As I stood wondering how you could have been alive just 2-1/2 hours earlier and now lay here, a sheet pulled up to your chin, I remember someone coming into the room and handing me a bag of your personal belongings. Remember that “best friends” necklace you wore that showed only half of a heart? You always knew I’d be wearing the other half.
Losing you was the saddest day of my life.
My life severely changed and has never been the same without my sister Kim in it. We were only a year apart — practically twins — and very close.
We’d promised each other that if we had kids, we would raise them a certain way. My sister never had the chance to have children, but with a lot of prayer and Kim as my guide, I kept my promise. My girls turned out to be fabulous young women dedicated to hard work. I was a single parent. Although I seemed alone, I know I was not. Both my daughters are now working on Masters Degrees — my daughter Nicole in Biology, and Samantha, who’s pursuing a Criminal Justice career, has been incredibly helpful with this case.
Kim was killed during my senior year in high school, and the trauma of her death changed my life. I couldn’t finish my last semester at the same school we’d always attended together, so graduated from another school. Because I’d chosen not to graduate from my local high school, I’ve been excluded from several functions including class reunions. Still, I moved forward and went on to get a college education.
I do not go to my hometown where we grew up because I don’t know who all was involved, who knew what or who to trust. This lack of trust has taken a toll on our entire family. No one ever addressed the “freak accident” false report of a broken door on the vehicle’s passenger side, even after Jeff Daily told investigators the Camaro’s broken door was on the driver’s side.
My sister Tammie had celebrated her own birthday September 24, 1986 — just two days before Kim’s death — and Tammie watched Kim leave Kelly Kress’s 16th birthday party and get into a beat-up yellow Camaro with Jeff Daily, a 20-year-old Blue Grass resident Kim had known for only about a week through some mutual friends. She hadn’t wanted to leave Kelly’s party, but Jeff assured her they were only going to pick up one of our next-door neighbors and that they’d quickly return.
As Kim left Kelly’s house, Kelly called out to Jeff, “You’d better bring her right back because she’s staying at my house for my party!” Kim turned around, and just before she got into the Camaro with Jeff, she hollered back to Kelly.
“Tell my mom I’ll be right back,” she said.
Two of my brothers are autistic, and they lost both Kim and me as caregivers almost at the same time. My parents were raising nine children — Dad worked as a welder and Mom as a nurse — and Kim and I loved taking care of our little siblings. After Kim died and I graduated and moved on, my parents faced not only bills from the people who caused Kim’s death, but were continually fed lies about what happened to her. Her death left none of us untouched and my family has never been the same.
You will read statements from my brother Larry, sisters Teresa and Tammie, and brother Todd, who was so young when he lost his sister and caregiver.
I miss Kim as much today as I did on Sept. 26, 1986. I do know she lives in my heart which will never be taken from me so we are never apart. We were like twins, always together, and people still accidentally call me Kim which is a compliment. No one has ever replaced her or can replace her. I did start to live again when I had my girls and they are true blessings to me.
When I laugh I hear her. When I see my daughter Nicole — whom I’d named Nicole Kimberly after my sister — I see Kim. When I see my daughter Samantha I see Kim’s spirit and her smile. When I am with my daughters I feel my sister’s love, even though neither of them ever got the chance to meet her or know her.
Though Kim is not here, she is here.
When my daughter Nicole got married she started to cry. Someone asked me at that moment ‘what time is it?’ and when I looked on my phone it said 7:17 which is Kim’s birthday; she was there looking down on us.
When my car caught on fire after a motor blowup, I quickly jumped out of the burning car, and an eyewitness came up to me and gave me a hug and said ‘you must have a guardian angel’ and “I do not know how you got out with no injuries.’ I looked into the sky and said I do have a guardian angel. My daughter Nicole Kimberly arrived a short time later to get me.
After my car accident when I began shopping for a replacement vehicle, people began telling me things about Kim’s death that made no sense. “She died from a broken neck,” I told them, but they suggested I get copies of all reports related to her “accidental” death.
Others told us we might want to look into Craig Petersen’s death. When I tried to ask more about what happened to Kim, I frequently heard the same response: “You don’t want to really know what happened.” Sometimes they’d share part of a “rumor” they’d heard, but then wouldn’t go into any details.
I decided to request all the files in my sister’s death. “Do you want copies of the photos, too?” a polite deputy asked me. “Yes,” I said, and he burned the case file photos to a CD. Between the reports and the pictures, my family and I were in for the shock of our lives.
As I read through the dozens of reports and witness statements and Kim’s autopsy report, my mind began to numb. I’d never been told any of these things. Not even my parents had been told about the full extent of Kim’s fatal injuries. Why? We’d all been led from Day One to believe Kim broke her neck after falling from a vehicle during an accident.
I couldn’t bear to look at photos that told a whole different story than what I’d always believed. My family sat in stunned silence, trying to absorb the sheer depth of Kim’s injuries … the marks on her face, her arms and legs, her neck, and a chest seemingly covered with blood that never spilled a drop on the pavement.
Kim was left-handed, and defensive wounds on her left hand and arm indicated she’d put up a struggle trying to fight off her attacker or attackers.
Those who’d suggested I request the reports and photos had known all along my sister’s death was no accident. There’d been witnesses. Many of them. The more I read, the more conflicting the statements became, including at least three separate locations where Kim allegedly had been killed — all of which were in the Walcott Mobile Home Park where Jeff Daily took her after tricking her into leaving a birthday party.
In 2012 I met with Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conard to go over my findings; he’d been a captain on the case in 1986 and had some other notes and pictures not previously given to me. He stated he could not figure out the accidental death ruling, and confirmed Kim’s death was suspicious. He said he was sorry we’d been lied to, and that because some of the original investigators had since died, he would reopen the “cold case” himself.
People continued sending me Facebook messages. Some admitted to having been there that night. They provided details like Kim being in a car that night with three guys — Jeff Daily and brothers Kevin and Craig Petersen — and told me one of the three young men had died a suspicious death barely a day after Kim’s death.
The night after Kim died, 20-year-old Craig Petersen had gone missing. Several days later, someone found his body in the Mississippi River, offshore in Montpelier in Muscatine County. The coroner couldn’t give a definite cause of death. The news speculated whether he’d jumped from a bridge or been pushed. Apparently, the medical examiner didn’t know, either. On Craig’s death certificate, the manner of death is listed as “Prob. suicide.”
Photos provided to me by law enforcement confirmed Daily and the Petersen brothers were present when medics tried to revive my dead sister. In one photo, Craig Petersen is leaning on a vehicle hood while his brother Kevin stands behind him and Jeff Daily stands in front of the car, his tucked into his jean pockets. There are many onlookers.
After I reached out to Iowa Cold Cases and they posted Kim’s case on the website, even more people have contacted me to say they were there that night. Some even admitted to spending time with the Petersen brothers the day after Kim’s death and witnessing the chain of events that led to the final confrontation the Petersen brothers had on the same bridge where Craig was last seen alive.
The tension had built all day as the brothers fought, I was told, and when Craig finally left to get away, his brother took off after him and followed him to the bridge.
Again, many people witnessed the brotherly feud’s escalation. One person admitted that curiosity got the best of some of them, who’d followed Kevin out to the bridge in hopes of witnessing a final showdown between the brothers. They never got the chance. The argument appeared to have picked up where it left off, but Kevin soon approached the onlookers and told them it was time for them to leave.
Craig was never seen alive again.
I made copies of all the reports, called the sheriff’s office and brought the papers to their office. I also called Crime Stoppers to let them know Craig’s death certificate stated a “Prob. suicide.”
No one got back to me. No one explained why two of four people who’d been together on a Friday night ended up dead from “accidents” within 24 hours of each other. The reports didn’t match up. Didn’t any of the officials suspect this was strange?
Following the proper chain of command, I eventually contacted the state ombudsman’s office, who in turn contacted Sheriff Conard. Conard said he was only willing to look at “new” information but already knew the rest of it. “But,” I argued, “this is all new to our family.”
My family and I waited for him to get back to us. I finally got him on the phone in 2013, and he yelled “I said this case is closed!” I asked him who was the last known person to see Kim alive, and who owned the trailer in the park where Kim had supposedly attended a party. I asked him to please explain the facts of how Kim’s death came to be ruled accidental, especially given all the conflicting reports and documented photos. Who made the decision to rule the case closed, I wanted to know.
One person told me about her efforts to contact Blue Grass police and county officials about Craig Petersen’s death, but said they’d had no luck.
My family asked the sheriff’s office to return the clothing Kim had worn that night. Conard said he was keeping it in case he needed it for evidence. Why would he need to save Kim’s clothes for evidence if they ruled her death accidental and the case closed? When I said I didn’t believe my sister’s death was an accident, Conard said “Prove it.”
I am trying.
I never knew Craig was with my sister that night until just a couple of years ago — more than 25 years after Kim’s death. I knew Craig was Jeff’s best friend, but I’d moved away shortly afterwards and didn’t know Craig also died under mysterious circumstances. Two accidents in 24 hours, both suspicious deaths, and both involving Kevin Petersen and Jeff Daily.
In a final blow, while reading through Kim’s autopsy report, I discovered the sheriff’s department had given the coroner incorrect information about what happened. They told the medical examiner’s office that Kim had jumped from a moving vehicle after getting into a fight with her boyfriend, Jeff Daily.
Jeff Daily was not Kim’s boyfriend. She’d never even been alone with him before and only got into the vehicle with him because he’d promised they were only going to pick up another woman to bring to the party — a woman who happened to be the Loose’s neighbor. Kim had felt safe going with him.
When officials questioned Jeff about what happened, he admitted from the start that Kim had not jumped from the car. But, in the end, the medical examiner’s office conducted the autopsy while believing my sister died after jumping from a moving vehicle.
In recent weeks and months, little by little, people have started giving me the names of those present the night Kim died. There is speculation she was killed inside one of the trailers and then dropped in the parking lot to stage a fake accident. Many of the names referenced appear in the photos taken as medics tried to revive my already deceased sister.
Why, 29 years ago, did no one step up to say they’d witnessed what happened? Why do people continually tell me “you don’t want to know what really happened” and then leave me to try to figure out the rest on my own? After all, they know I’ve read my sister’s autopsy report.
One of my biggest questions, however, is how can officials rule a death an accident without providing any proof at all of how the accident occurred? Where is the evidence?
Based on the photos and investigative reports, my sister’s death was anything but an accident.
I still have my “best friends” necklace with just half a heart. Kim was buried wearing the other half.
Today, please light a candle or say a prayer for Kim Loose, the best sister ever. Kim will always be loved and never forgotten as we pray for justice. Thank you, and may God bless those who pray and share to help Kim.
About Julie Loose
Julie Loose worked as a realtor for nine years, and currently works for the government at the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad Cities.
She lives with her family in Bettendorf, Iowa.
From Kim’s brother, Larry Loose: The very few memories of my sister are lost for me as I was only 7 years old when Kim was killed. To find out two years ago that the “freak fall out of car” (what my family was told) was really a murder has left me wondering what happened and wanting the people punished for the crime they committed. To have closure for our family, we need to know why this happened and have officials answer as to why they covered it up.
My brother Todd was only one year old when Julie died, but he’s known her all his life because of memories we’ve shared. Todd said he wants to know the truth about what really happened.
From Kim’s sister, Teresa “Terrie” Loose: Life without Kimmie has been very difficult in many ways than I can put into words. As a kid I couldn’t physically walk into any room in our house without seeing something or smelling something that reminded me of her and I had to move out and in with my sister Julie when very young. Still to this day, driving through Bluegrass or sitting in Bluegrass Park is not the same.
My daughter is almost seven and never got to meet her Aunt Kim. Kim was robbed of her life and never received justice. We all have a hole in our heart ever since she was taken from us. Please help us get justice for Kim.
From Kim’s sister, Tammie (Loose) Wink: It is truly hard to believe it has been 29 years since my sister Kim died. I look back to when I was 14 years old and how much I missed her then. Everything about her, her smile, her contagious laugh, the way she walked, and most importantly, our conversations.
To me, Kim was the coolest person in the world! The week prior to her death I got to time spend with her. We celebrated my birthday by going to Happy Joe’s and shopping for my birthday present. It was just Kim, my mom and me. I’ll never forget how special that day was. Really, in our family of 10, alone time was extremely rare. Kim helped me pick out an outfit and knowing how much she was looking forward to her best friend’s 16th birthday party, I let her wear it first. It turns out Kim would be killed wearing it.
Kim was so excited about Kelly’s party so she wanted me to stop by; I did with my best friend Carrie. Carrie and I stayed for a while, visiting with Kelly’s brother Kevin and his friends. Next, we left to spend the night in Eldridge, Iowa, with Carrie’s dad.
The next morning I received a phone call from my sister Julie telling me what I know now, the tragic news that Kim was dead. I remember screaming and crying and the pain, disbelief and utter heartbreak! Literally, it felt like my heart was so heavy that it was going to fall out of my body.
The days, weeks, and months to follow were filled with rumors, stories, opinions and very few facts about what really happened to Kim. At 14, I never imagined that the truth wouldn’t be found. I had faith that people would do what is right and everything would somehow make sense. When we were told that it was a freak accident involving a speed bump and a broken car door latch, that is what I believed.
Somehow, I kept waking up everyday, I kept breathing, and kept living my 14-year-old life.
I always wondered where such rumors came from. Now with age and hindsight, I wish I would have asked more questions, the tough questions. I also think a lot about whether I could have done something, anything to keep it from happening. What If I would have told my mom, or somehow stopped her from leaving with Jeff Daily, for the last time. The pain I live with everyday haunts me. From the terrifying nightmares that still wake me up at night to the guilt I feel every time I look into my parents eyes. I swear I can still see the pain deep, deep inside their souls! I can only imagine the pain of losing their 16-year-old daughter, after also losing their first-born son.
As a mother myself, the thought seems truly unbearable. I often look at my two girls and wonder how much Kim would have loved them. The fact that we didn’t get to see each other get married, have children / grandchildren, or do all of the other things that families do, weighs heavily on me, a weight that cannot be lifted. So many times throughout the past 29 years I have heard people say, it was so long ago … move on. I thought I had, I really believed the freak accident story until I recently read the official police report.
As an adult, my perspective is completely different. I feel our family was not told the real circumstances surrounding Kim’s death. I feel like this needs to be reopened and investigated. It doesn’t seem like her injuries were consistent with a freak, traumatic accident. I pray that anyone having any information about the facts of what happened to Kim that night or any connection to Craig Peterson’s death the following night, please call Special Agent in Charge Michael Motsinger of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-0030 or email email@example.com.
Please do this for Kim, my family and everyone who loves her. She deserves the truth and justice!
For more information, visit:
The Loose family has indicated they are open to sharing case file documents and photos with those who wish to look further into Kim’s death, but ask that requests be made through Iowa Cold Cases.
Anyone with other information about the deaths of Kimberly Loose or Craig Petersen is urged to contact Special Agent in Charge Michael Motsinger of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, (515) 725-0030, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.