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We all love celebrating birthdays, especially (these days) on Facebook. We send all sorts of good wishes, emojis of birthday cakes and big “Happy Birthday!” images, and tell our friends and loved ones we wish them another great or exciting or successful next year.
When I last updated the ICC homepage, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the “cold case anniversaries” were actually missed birthdays. I don’t have all the victims’ birthdays listed in my ICC calendar (I started adding the birthdays years after the site had already begun), but always find myself in a quandary whenever a victim’s birthday and date of death are so closely related.
One example this month is that of 23-year-old Lisa McCuddin of Fort Dodge, Iowa. I didn’t list her twice — showing both her date of death and her birthday — because both occurred within just four days. Lisa was doing something all of us take for granted all the time … riding in a vehicle, on her way with a companion to go to breakfast at a local business.
Lisa died Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004. She would have celebrated her 24th birthday Wednesday, Oct. 6.
Two shooting incidents took place that same morning at Fort Dodge’s Holiday Inn, but Lisa, a passenger in a vehicle driven by Fred Murray, would be the only one to succumb to her injuries. The 29-year-old Murray also sustained a gunshot wound, as did the first victim, 23-year-old Isaac Givens. Police later determined the two shooting incidents were related and believe the violence erupted after a late evening fight between patrons at the Fort Dodge Eagles Lodge.
Lisa’s murder remains unsolved.
Lyric Cook, 10, along with her cousin, Elizabeth Collins, 8, disappeared Friday, July 13, 2012, from Evansdale, Iowa. The girls’ remains were found Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Seven Bridges Wildlife Park about 25 miles away from Meyers Lake where the girls’ bicycles were found abandoned.
In addition to spending time with her cousin Elizabeth, Lyric loved playing cards with her grandmother in the afternoons or finding some way to be outside whether snow, rain or shine.
Jackie Shireman, a 21-year-old newlywed and Sunday school teacher, was stabbed 30 times with a pair of scissors while working Jan. 4, 1975 at “Marino’s Meal on a Bun” in Dubuque, Iowa. Her killer left her for dead in the restaurant’s walk-in cooler. Steven Moore was charged in her death but acquitted after witnesses reneged on testimony and others refused to testify at all.
The young woman would just now be entering her retirement years.
October 5 marks what would have been Jared Parks‘ 26th birthday. Parks, an 18-year-old from Urbandale, was killed May 11, 2009, when his body was placed or pushed onto Interstate 35/80 near the Beaver Avenue Bridge in Polk County, Iowa. He was hit by at least two semi tractor-trailers.
Investigators never found Jared’s cell phone, his wallet, earrings, or tennis shoes, and ruled his death suspicious. Parks had recently graduated early from Urbandale High School, but had planned on being a part of the commencement ceremony.
Michelle Martinko, an 18-year-old Kennedy High School senior, was killed late on Dec. 19, 1979, after going to Cedar Rapids’ new Westdale Mall to look at a coat, and would have celebrated her 55th birthday October 6.
Cedar Rapids investigators were able to develop a DNA profile for Michelle’s killer, but have yet to match it with an individual through CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System database program maintained by the FBI.
Within just a few short October days, these unsolved murders span 37 years with birth dates falling across four decades between 1961 and 2001.
For each one of us, our birthday is more important than Thanksgiving or Christmas or even New Year’s Day. These days are our days, and they are days five Iowans will never again celebrate.
Candles mark years as time goes by. Today, we light five candles to celebrate the lives of five magnificent young adults who, if given the opportunity, could have changed so many lives in so many ways.
Happy Birthday wishes to Lisa, Lyric, Jackie, Jared, and Michelle. Your candles will always burn bright. May they light the way as others journey forward in search of answers.