Helping Catch Bad Guys

On June 10, 2016, in Media, News, The Families, by Jody Ewing
Ronald Novak - Gone Cold series
 Ron Novak’s unsolved 1983 murder was one  of more than 50 cases featured by the Iowa  Newspaper Association and participating  newspapers across the state.

The past, present, and future are inexorably linked, and nowhere has that been more clear than in the last year during our partnership with the Iowa Newspaper Association (INA) and its participating members — both dailies and weeklies — who joined forces to bring readers the weekly GONE COLD: EXPLORING IOWA’S UNSOLVED MURDERS series about cases that still hold promise for closure.

I extend tremendous thanks to Chris Mudge, executive director at INA, Amalie Nash, executive editor and vice president at The Des Moines Register, and INA’s communications director Jodi Hulbert. They, along with the many others who helped coordinate or contributed to this series, played an integral part in making this interactive year-long project a seamless success.

This collective effort has made a distinct impact on unsolved murders all across the state, even though more months may pass before the breadth of this endeavor is fully realized. By concurrently running these cold case stories — from Sioux City to Mason City to Iowa City and all throughout the state — courageous readers answered the call to do what’s right.

Based on the number of detailed tips shared with Iowa Cold Cases — many still being passed on to the respective investigating agencies — plus those who chose to contact newspapers or law enforcement directly, Iowans made every effort to make sure these victims were not forgotten.

Some families may finally receive long-awaited answers; others may witness justice as it slowly unfolds and finds its way into county courthouses.

Every month, more than a quarter million people from across the globe visit the Iowa Cold Cases website and journey through more than a half million pages.

Weekender cover cold cases seriesMay 20, 2016, marked 12 years since the Weekender published the first of my cold case series articles, a 1974 triple homicide in Sioux City, involving the execution style shootings of two young men, Jesse Hanni and Billy Isom, and Billy’s girlfriend, a very pregnant Freta Bostic.

From that day forward, my writing life as I once knew it veered off course onto a whole new highway filled with sharp curves and the occasional cavernous ditch. But always, every step of the way, victims’ family members stood by with flashlights to guide me through the dark and up the bank. Together, we traveled down some sorrowful roads, but always, a grand landscape soon rose up before us, filled with color and beauty and laughter and friendship and hope and celebrations of moments that forever will live on.

Weekender triple murder storyEvery day, I learn something new about a victim or the lives of those who helped build this remarkably strong new cold case family, and my life is richer for having been given the opportunity to meet and get to know each and every one of you.

Thank you again to Chris Mudge, Amalie Nash and Jodi Hulbert and every reporter and newspaper who made the commitment to this in-depth, worthwhile project.

Finally, thank you to the INA management team for naming me a “Friend of Iowa Newspapers.” I remain humbled by this honor.

This venture doesn’t end here. Please stay strong and courageous and continue to contact investigators with what you know. Silence does not help catch bad guys.

Find your voice. Make it heard.

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