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Jody is an author and freelance writer based in west-central Iowa. She began writing at age eight, both penning and illustrating her dog-napping short story, “The Mystery of Kalo’s Disappearance.” She has worked for The Sioux City Journal and Weekender, and has more than 500 published feature stories and articles (unrelated to cold cases).
She is the author of One Way: Bumps and Detours on the Road to Adulthood — a collection of humorous and inspirational essays about childhood and growing up — and has several other books in progress (both fiction and nonfiction), including Major Renovations and Somebody Knows Something.
Jody launched the Iowa Cold Cases website (originally at iowacoldcases.com) in 2005 after working on a Sioux City cold case series for the Weekender. A website that began as a handful of case summaries from the Siouxland area now has expanded to include more than 500 cases from all across Iowa.
Two years after launching the site, Jody’s stepfather of 25 years — Earl Thelander of Onawa, IA — died from burns sustained in a house explosion after copper thieves cut and stole propane gas lines at a rural Monona County home he and Jody’s mother, Hope Thelander, were preparing for a renter. Jody added Earl’s name to the site in 2008 after officials announced his case had gone cold. It remains unsolved.
Jody graduated magna cum laude from Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies (Communications and Social Science) and Criminal Justice Studies. She is a member of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, and in September 2015 was named a “Friend of Iowa Newspapers,” an honor conferred by the Iowa Newspaper Association to those who have made significant contributions to the newspaper industry in Iowa.
She has three grown children, Bill, Jennifer, and Rhett, a stepdaughter, Vicky, two grandsons, one granddaughter, and shares her century-old home with Dennis Ryan, dogs Jack and Quincy, and an African Grey parrot named Clyde who thinks he’s a World War II bombardier pilot.