Andy Hatges (Courtesy photo Joanna Hatzis)
Andrew “Andy” Hatges
108 Virginia Ave. SE
Mason City, IA
Cerro Gordo County
March 8, 1968
Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing
Andrew “Andy” Hatges, 75, owner of the former West Vu Market located at 2601 Fourth St. S.W. in Mason City, was found dead in his home on Friday, March 8, 1968, after he didn’t open the store that morning.
Hatges, who resided at 108 Virginia Avenue SE, was found lying face down near a corner of his living room, his throat slashed. His hands had bruises and cuts, and a crescent wrench was found beneath his body.
Dr. Paul Potter, Cerro Gordo County medical examiner, estimated Hatges was killed some time around midnight. Hatges bled to death from the slash in his throat, Potter said.
Cerro Gordo County in Iowa
- Mason City in Cerro Gordo County
The former Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (now the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation) assisted Mason City police detectives but were unable to make an arrest in the case.
Hatges was last seen alive around 10 p.m. Thursday after a store employee and her husband gave him a ride home.
“I can picture so much,” former Police Chief Wes Greenan is quoted as saying in a Mason City Globe Gazette article dated June 18, 2000. “It was a vicious crime. His hands were all beat up from defending himself, and he was almost decapitated.”
Greenan said more than 400 people were interviewed in the Hatges case, but no one knew anything that would incriminate anyone in the murder. At one time, Greenan told the Gazette, police were told to look for a red truck, but when you’re looking for a red truck, almost every truck is red, he said.
In a January 5, 2003 interview with Globe Gazette reporter Bob Link, Greenan said the Hatges case still remained on his mind.
“The Andy Hatges case is vividly in my mind,” he said. “It was horrendous. We interviewed so many people and the investigation went as far as Greece to get information.
“I don’t think it’s over yet,” he said of the 1968 case. “I think somebody still knows something. I’ve been to the police department a couple times to go over cold cases. It’s always good to re-interview.”
Greenan also spoke about the unsolved case of Elgin Strait, murdered in his basement in March 1977.
“Some success had been found in working with a psychic by the name of Gretta Alexander,” Greenan told the Gazette. “So after we talked about it, I said, let’s give her a call and find out if she has any idea where the weapon is.”
Courtesy photo Joanna Hatzis
From left, Andy’s second daughter, Maria Hatges (and her child), Andy Hatges, the military general related to Andy’s wife (Maria Hatges née Pipilis), Andy’s first daughter, Constance Hatges, and the woman believed to be the General’s wife.
Alexander suggested investigators go to a specific mile marker along Interstate 35 and then east. She said they should go a mile or so and find children playing near a windmill. It would be near there that the murder weapon would be located.
Greenan sent detectives on the search, where they found kids playing in a yard near an ornamental windmill.
“When they started checking, they looked across the road and there was a landfill,” said Greenan. “So it sounded like she was legit.”
With new technology and techniques available to solve decades-old cases, Mason City police are taking another look at some of the city’s unsolved mysteries, and in 2015 the Globe Gazette joined efforts with other Iowa newspapers to get involved as well.
Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s Unsolved Murders
In April 2015, Des Moines Register Editor and Vice President Amalie Nash contacted Jody Ewing at Iowa Cold Cases (ICC) about developing a partnership with the Iowa Newspaper Association (INA) to put statewide emphasis on some of Iowa’s unsolved murders in hopes it might lead to new tips and help solve cases. In May 2015, Ewing spoke with Nash and INA Executive Director Chris Mudge, and the three worked together to launch the new year-long project.
“Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s Unsolved Murders” premiered July 26, 2015, and quickly grew from 60 participating Iowa newspapers to more than 200 papers.
On Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, Globe Gazette reporter Mary Pieper published an in-depth piece featuring Andy Hatges’ unsolved murder. She spoke with Duane Jewell, a retired Mason City police officer who investigated Hatges’ homicide, as well as several of Hatges’ relatives.
“That’s always been a hard one,” Jewell said about the case. He said they had several strong suspects, but were never able to “turn the page” on them.
Jewell also confirmed the case didn’t involve robbery, noting the house wasn’t ransacked and the money Hatges still had on his body when found.
“He was a wonderful man, generous and hard-working,” his nephew, Ioannis “John” Hatzis, 74, told the Globe Gazette via e-mail.
Hatzis, who now lives in Pennsylvania, said when he and his four brothers were young and still living in a village in Greece, Hatges would send them clothing, shoes and other items from the U.S.
Pieper reported in the Globe Gazette:
The first and only time Hatzis spoke to the man he and his brothers called “Theo (Uncle) Andreas” was in late 1967. Hatzis, who was 26, had just arrived in the United States and was staying temporarily with a family friend in Manhattan before settling in East Orange, New Jersey.
Hatzis called his uncle and told him “he has good tidings from his family, his brothers back in Greece and that I would visit him in the spring when the weather cleared,” he said. “However, I was never able to see him because three months after the phone call he was murdered.”
He said the family was “shocked and distraught” at the news.
— Mary Pieper, The Globe Gazette, Oct. 25, 2015
Jewell said it was foggy the night of Hatges’ murder, which would have made it difficult for neighbors to notice anything unusual. A red pickup truck, however, was parked on a side street near the house, but so many trucks matched the description nothing ever came of the lead, Jewell said.
Read more of Mary Pieper’s story here.
About Andy Hatges
Andrew “Andy” A. Hatges was born in Greece November 30, 1892 to Pomtino Papandrew and Andrew Hatges. According to ancestry.com, he left Patras at age 18 and sailed on the “Athinai” to New York City. He arrived in New York on June 1, 1910, and then journeyed to Iowa.
Hatges became a U.S. citizen in 1918, and served with the 163rd Iowa Depot Brigade during World War I.
He returned to Iowa after the war, but in 1925 returned to Greece, where he married Maria Pipilis. The couple moved back to the U.S. at year’s end, and lived for a short time in Butler County before relocating to Mason City.
Courtesy photo GeneGraver, Findagrave.com
Andrew Hatges is buried at the Elmwood Saint Joseph Cemetery in Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
Hatges opened his first grocery store — the Mason City Fruit Store — in 1926, the same year the couple’s first daughter, Constance, was born. Maria Hatges died in 1935 after giving birth to the couple’s second daughter, also named Maria.
Hatges, while raising his two daughters, later relocated the business to 223 N. Federal Street and then opened a second store, the West Vu Market, on the city’s west side. He sold the Federal street store to a nephew in 1964 but continued to own and operate the West Vu Market until his death.
Memorial services were held in the Greek Orthodox Church, and Hatges was buried next to his late wife at the Elmwood Saint Joseph Cemetery in Mason City.
Anyone with information regarding Andy Hatges’ unsolved murder is asked to contact the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.
You may also send information to Iowa Cold Cases via our Contact form.
- Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
- Mason City Police Department
- “Murder of Mason City grocer remains unsolved after 47 years,” by Mary Pieper, Mason City Globe Gazette, Part of the GONE COLD: EXPLORING IOWA’S UNSOLVED MURDERS series, Sunday, October 25, 2015
- Joanna Hatzis, correspondence, photo sent to Jody Ewing, Iowa Cold Cases, August 18, 2013
- “More North Iowa cold cases,” Mason City Globe-Gazette, June 27, 2010
- “Memories of joys, sorrows remain intense for Lewis and Greenan,” by Bob Link, The Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 5, 2003
- “Seven other murders within the last 40 years remain unsolved in Mason City,” by Bob Link, the Mason City Globe-Gazette, December 8, 2002
- “Investigators look for breaks in unsolved cases,” Associated Press, Quad-Cities Dispatch-Argus, June 19, 2000
- “Unsolved homicide: The cold case files,” by Zach Jensen, Mason City Globe-Gazette, June 18, 2000
- “No Suspects In Mason City,” Waterloo Daily Courier, March 11, 1968
- “Push Search for Grocer’s Slayer At Mason City,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 11, 1968
- “Mason City Grocer, 75, Found With Throat Cut,” Des Moines Register, March 10, 1968
- “Find Mason City Grocer Brutally Slain in His Home,” Waterloo Daily Courier, March 10, 1968
- “Gard buys Federal Fruit store from Art Hatges,” Mason City Globe-Gazette, July 18, 1964
- “Art Hatges buys Federal Fruit Market,” Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 14, 1963
- “Hatges Rites On Wednesday,” Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 23, 1945
- “Community News,” Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 30, 1935
- “Mrs. A. Hatges Services Held,” Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 2, 1935
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