angela-and-jessica-altman-1976Courtesy photo Jessica Altman and the Fort Dodge Messenger
Angela Altman with baby Jessica in 1976

Angela Marie Altman

Homicide

Angela Marie Altman
22 YOA
215 S. 7th Street
Fort Dodge, IA
Webster County
DCI Case #81-00528
January 24, 1981

Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Four-year-old Jessica Marie Altman found her mother’s dead body Saturday afternoon, Jan. 24, 1981, in the Fort Dodge apartment where the two lived together. Angela Marie Altman, 22, lay partially nude on the kitchen floor — stabbed and strangled.

When the child answered phone calls, she told the callers about her mother and said she’d been unable to wake her.

Altman’s sister arrived at the 215 S. 7th Street home, and police arrived shortly after 3 p.m. They estimated Altman had been dead somewhere between eight and 10 hours.

Officials couldn’t find a weapon used in the homicide, but found the 4-year-old girl unharmed. Altman had suffered multiple stab wounds to her abdomen in addition to being strangled.

angela-altman-crime-sceneCourtesy photo Ft. Dodge Messenger
Angela Altman was slain in this 215 S. 7th St. apartment home in Fort Dodge.

The mother and daughter lived on the southwest edge of Fort Dodge’s business district in a second floor apartment. Altman had last been seen alive the evening of Jan. 23, 1981.

Webster County Medical Examiner Daniel Cole ruled cause of death as strangulation and blood loss caused by 20 stab wounds to Altman’s abdomen.

Teen Charged with First-Degree Murder

The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation assisted the Fort Dodge police and Webster County officials in the investigation, and the following day arrested and took 16-year-old Everett Dial into custody. They executed a search warrant on the teen’s nearby 413 S. 7th Street residence where he lived with his mother, Melvina Bell.

According to neighbors and family members, Altman and Dial had been romantically involved and Dial was allegedly abusive.

Courtesy The Des Moines Register

Courtesy The Des Moines Register

The youth was charged Monday, January 26, with first-degree murder in Altman’s death, with a detention hearing scheduled Tuesday in juvenile court to determine whether he would remain at the juvenile detention facility while awaiting trial or be released to his mother.

In a Des Moines Register article dated January 27, 1981, Webster County attorney Monty Fisher said the hearing would also determine if there was “probable cause that the juvenile committed a delinquent act.”

A juvenile court judge on Tuesday ruled that Dial would remain in juvenile detention.

Charges Dropped

Throughout the month of February, officials weighed competency issues and whether or not the probable cause hearing should be open or closed.

By March, based on evaluations performed on Dial at the North Central Mental Health Center, Juvenile Court Judge Francis Tierney ruled Dial posed no threat to the community and was not a flight risk, and freed Dial on his own recognizance.

Another suspect came under investigation, and though an acquaintance and his girlfriend had knowledge of the crime and told Iowa Cold Cases the suspect “killed the girl because she disrespected him,” the individual and his girlfriend refused to testify against the suspect because the suspect allegedly threatened to kill them if they did so.

The murder charges against Dial were dropped, and no one else has ever been charged with Altman’s murder.

Daughter, Mother’s Former Mentor Work to Keep Hope Alive

Altman’s daughter Jessica was raised by her grandmother, Clarice Altman, and went on to serve in the United States Army before returning to school to become a registered nurse. In a July 29, 2012 interview with the Fort Dodge Messenger, Jessica, who lives in Tennessee, said she’d spent half her life trying to get answers about her mother’s death in what has turned out to be a frustrating quest — both with law enforcement and with her own family.


Courtesy photo Jessica Altman and Cindy Henning
Angela with Jessica in 1978

“I’ve talked to my grandma; she doesn’t really like to talk about it,” Jessica told Messenger reporter Barbara Wallace Hughes. “I guess I can understand. It might be easier for some people to try to forget.”

Jessica told Hughes she’d also tried talking to a couple of her uncles, but that “no one likes to talk about it. They just don’t.”

In January 2012, Jessica — accompanied by her mother’s former mentor, Cindy Henning — traveled to Fort Dodge to meet with local law enforcement. Cindy Henning had mentored Angela Altman through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program during some of the teenaged years Altman spent in Davenport.

Jessica said she came away from the meeting with law enforcement with mixed feelings.

“I still didn’t feel unless I constantly keep at them that they’re going to do anymore than has been done,” she told the Messenger.

Webster County in Iowa
Webster County in Iowa
Fort Dodge in Webster CountyFort Dodge in Webster County

Following the meeting, Jessica said she contacted the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Attorney General, the state ombudsman’s office and the commissioner of public safety.

“I want them to know I’ve been understanding,” she told Hughes in the interview. “I understand they’re maybe short staffed. I understand that you want to get things that have occurred recently taken care of. But I’ve kind of been brushed off for a long time.”

Henning, who still resides in the Quad Cities area, told the Messenger she hadn’t known Altman had been murdered until trying to reconnect with her online and finding news of the murder on the Iowa Cold Cases website. Henning reached out to Altman’s daughter, and the two have since stayed in touch on a regular basis.

Messenger reporter Hughes — in the second in a series of stories on Altman’s unsolved murder — published an article July 31, 2012, detailing the friendship Henning first had with Altman, and then, later, with Altman’s daughter, Jessica.

Since the two met in January 2012, Henning said she and Jessica talk every day or email the other through Facebook.

angela-altman-ft-dodge-messenger
Courtesy photo Ft. Dodge Messenger
Angela Altman as a young teen

“We have not been apart. It was like an instant connection, like I’ve known her my whole life,” Henning told the Messenger.

Angela Altman had sent several photos of herself and her daughter to Henning, and many got lost when Henning’s basement flooded. She found two, however, which she passed along to Jessica. One of the photos had handwriting on the back side.

“That was the first time [Jessica] had ever seen her mother’s handwriting,” Henning told Hughes.

Altman’s unsolved murder was featured in newspapers across Iowa in August 2015 as part of the “Gone Cold: Examining Iowa’s Unsolved Murders” series — a year-long partnership between Iowa Cold Cases and the Iowa Newspaper Association, along with the organization’s participating newspapers.

See “Daughter holds out hope in 28-year-old murder of her mother,” published in the Newton Daily News by Barbara Wallace Hughes on August 25, 2015.

About Angela Marie Altman

Angela Marie Altman was born July 30, 1958 in Meridian, Miss., and moved with her family to Fort Dodge when she was three months old.

She attended Pleasant Valley Elementary School and South Junior High School in Fort Dodge.

She gave birth to daughter Jessica Marie in September 1976.

angela-altman-gravestoneCourtesy photo Leta Koll, findagrave.com
Angela Marie Altman is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

Memorial services for Angela were held at 3 p.m. Sunday, January 31, 1981 at the Bruce Memorial Chapel with the Rev. Bessie Williams of the Mission Followers of Jesus Christ Church officiating.

Angela was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

Survivors included her daughter, Jessica Marie Altman; her mother, Clarice J. Altman; brothers Larry, Danny, Jimmy and Michael Altman; and sisters Dianne Altman Hunter and Delores and JoAnna Altman.

Information Needed

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Angela Altman’s murder was one of approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA technology.

Although federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI remains committed to resolving Iowa’s cold cases. The DCI will continue to assign agents to investigate cold cases as new leads develop or as technological advances allow for additional forensic testing of original evidence.

The DCI remains committed to the resolution of Iowa’s cold cases and will continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.

If you have any information regarding Angela Altman’s unsolved murder please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

Sources:
  • Who killed Angela Altman?” The Storm Lake Pilot Tribune, Tuesday, October 27, 2015
  • Daughter holds out hope in 28-year-old murder of her mother,” by Barbara Wallace Hughes, newtondailynews.com, Tuesday, August 25, 2015
  • Jessica Altman Remembers Her Mother,” Guest Blog post at Iowa Cold Cases, January 24, 2014
  • “Jessica Altman grew up without her mother, always wanting answers,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, August 1, 2012
  • “A voice from the past reaches out to Jessica Altman,” by Barbara Wallace Hughes, The Fort Dodge Messenger, July 31, 2012
  • “Who killed Angela Altman? More than 30 years after her mother’s murder, Jessica Altman wants some answers,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, July 29, 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial
  • Jessica Marie Altman, correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, February 2011 – January 2014
  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Cold Case Unit, November 24, 2009
  • “DCI agents aid in probe of murder,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, January 30, 1981
  • “Death Notices,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, January 29, 1981
  • “Woman was stabbed 20 times, strangled,” The Des Moines Register, January 28, 1981
  • “Hearing for Dial set,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, January 27, 1981
  • “Teen Charged With Murder,” The Des Moines Register, January 27, 1981
  • “Fort Dodge Woman Slain,” The Des Moines Register, January 26, 1981
  • “Juvenile main suspect in slaying of F.D. woman,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, January 25, 1981
  • “Mental tests for Dial are completed,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, January 1981
  • Juvenile held in woman’s stabbing,” The Spencer Daily Reporter, January 24, 1981

 

Copyright © 2017 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

18 Responses to Angela Altman

  1. Jessica Altman says:

    30 years and still no answers :(

    • kandrea says:

      I know sad as it is. Whoever killed her is now suffering by the hands of God. He might have got away with it through The Law but he won’t escape Gods hands.praying for justice for your Mom Jessica

  2. Cindy says:

    Jessica, I was your mothers “big sister” when she was in Davenport as a teenager. You both came to stay for about a week when you were an infant. I just recently started searching for her and was so saddened to come across this site. I am so sorry for your loss. Cindy Henning

  3. Could u please post something about the murder of my best friend, Rose Burkert and Roger Atkinson. I still pray it will be solved everyday. Is anyone working on her case n the Cold Case Unit?

  4. Monica Meade says:

    Can’t believe another year has gone by, seems like we were just talking about this in your office. (probably our only serious chat)

  5. Jeanie Shoulders says:

    Prayers that this case will get solved, so the Altman family can be at peace.

  6. Tammy Howard Burkman We post victims on the FB page for anniversaries and special events. But all victims can be read about any time on the website iowacoldcases.org. Check the blog post about Rose and Roger which was on our website last September. Unfortunately, the Iowa Cold Case Unit was closed down due to lack of funding. Thanks for your comment. Nancy Bowers

  7. Thanks Ms. Bowers, I know funding is low. Rose was my best friend and a very good person. She loved her little girl, who is now a mother herself. Rose would now b a Grandmother of three, I just dont want her to b forgotten. Thanks for all that u do.

  8. Annie says:

    I think after 30 some years it’s a shame that so many crimes are being done and not solved in the webster county area. If they had been white someone would have solved it by now. But because its black on black crime it seems like nobody cares.

    Until we start acting like we care about each other and what happens to our brothers and sisters in this community it will never change. Its too sad that we as a people don’t have one another’s backs …truly sad…!

  9. Mike says:

    Annie, you are absolutely right about the role race plays in Fort Dodge. I was a fourth generation Dodger (white, to be honest) and saw it everywhere. And most will deny it out loud.

    BTW, the school Angela attended was Pleasant Valley Elementary. It’s gone now, but was there a long time. Built in 1914 (my grandmother attended school there).

  10. Teri says:

    My mother was a police officer with the Fort Dodge PD at the time of this tragic murder. I wonder if she remembers this case?

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Teri, would you want to check with your mother and see if she remembers anything about the case that she’d like to pass along to include on Angela’s page? She could send the information directly to me at: jody at iowacoldcases.org. Thank you for writing!

      Jody

  11. Theresa says:

    Time changes people, and laws. “Another suspect came under investigation, and though an acquaintance and his girlfriend had knowledge of the crime and told Iowa Cold Cases the suspect “killed the girl because she disrespected him,” the individual and his girlfriend refused to testify against the suspect because the suspect had allegedly threatened to kill them if they did so.” The kind of disrespect that would cause the perpetrator to stab this woman’s abdomen to excess, and strangle her, comes off as a standard patriarchal issue. How can Jessica, now that she is an adult, complete her own identity if people are withholding information about a traumatic event that changed her life? How can she properly grieve for her mother without some sort of closure if members in the family won’t talk about it? Why should Jessica be disrespected because of her mother’s alleged disrespect?

  12. I pray for the family members.

  13. Thank you Jody and everyone for keeping her story alive

  14. Yes thank you Jody for keeping her alive.

  15. Praying for answers and comfort.

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