Arlys PonceCourtesy photo Carol Robbins
Arlys Ponce

Arlys Darlene Ponce


Arlys Darlene Ponce
42 YOA
DCI Case # 97-10958
Norwalk, Iowa
Warren County
October 8, 1997

Arlys Ponce — a 42-year-old mother of three — was found dead on the floor of her Norwalk, Iowa home on October 8, 1997.

Ponce’s son had arrived at the residence at approximately 3:15 p.m., and when his mother failed to answer the door, he peered through a window and saw her body lying on the floor.

The son contacted a neighbor, telling her he couldn’t get into the house but that he could see his mother lying on the floor. The neighbor contacted police, who entered the residence and discovered Arlys Ponce had been beaten and stabbed to death.

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agents, who were called in to help Norwalk authorities with the case, said Ponce had died of multiple stab wounds.

Warren County in Iowa
Warren County in Iowa
Norwalk in Warren CountyNorwalk in Warren County

In a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated Oct. 11, 1997, DCI spokesman John Blessman said “we’re interviewing people and running out leads as they come in,” but declined to specify whether investigators were zeroing in on a suspect in the homicide that occurred in the community of 6,000 people south of Des Moines.

Ponce’s death marked the third incident since Aug. 28 in which a woman was discovered dead of multiple stab wounds. Julie Bell Davis, 33, of Marion, was slain at an east-side Des Moines business where she worked once or twice a week, and Zurijeta Sakanovic, 21, was killed Sept. 4 in a Clive hotel where she worked as a housekeeper.

Some wondered if the three women’s murders might be connected.

Julie Bell Davis

Julie Bell Davis

“We have looked into that. We’re open to that, but at this point, no, we don’t have anything that would tie in any of the three homicides,” Des Moines Police Lt. Kelly Willis told the Gazette. “We have looked at that possibility but at this point there’s nothing that would indicate that they are related.”

Donald Arthur Piper, a serial killer who preyed on women he found in motels, was later convicted of first-degree murder in Sakanovic’s death.

When the Iowa DCI established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Arlys Ponce’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 continues 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 resolving 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.

Arlys Ponce gravestoneCourtesy photo SPC,
Arlys Ponce is buried at the Norwalk Cemetery in Warren County, Iowa.
About Arlys Ponce

Arlys Ponce was born January 9, 1955. She married Robert C. Ponce on Feb. 14, 1982, and the couple had three children.

Arlys died from stab wounds in her Norwalk, Iowa home on Oct. 8, 1997.

She is buried at the Norwalk Cemetery in Warren County, Iowa.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Arlys Ponce’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email



12 Responses to Arlys Ponce

  1. RSC says:

    My son was her son Andrew’s best friend. It was just fate that my son did not go to that house after school that day as was the norm.
    This always seemed like a domestic situation and the perp was someone she knew. There was no forced entry and the house was uncustomarily locked.

    • Stay Strong, Keep Fighting For Justice! says:

      Your comments certainly imply the husband was involved. What a shame.

      • Patrick Kerrigan says:

        I agree that it suggests the husband was involved. There is no mention of husband in the original investigation of her death. He is only mentioned in the obituary.

        • Just Saying says:

          As I had known her parents (now deceased) since youth, as I recall the husband had an indisputable alibi. The family had recently had new flooring installed in the house. Her parents always felt those individuals played some part in it as they had been supplied a key. As I recall at the time she was a stay at home mom.

          • Stay Strong, Keep Fighting For Justice! says:

            That’s good info. If you know & feel comfortable sharing, did her parents convey the motive?

    • Carlye says:

      Who is your son? I lived across the street from them through my childhood.

  2. Greg says:

    They should just take these punks out behind the barn and take care o them. They do everywhere else. They can do it here…

  3. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    There is no mention of forced entry. Also, if the neighbors saw or heard anything. Also, was she a stay at home mom, or did she have a job. Also, did the neighbors see or hear anything.

    • Carlye says:

      She ran an in home daycare at the time. No forced entry, and if I recall there was a sighting of a person wearing sunglasses who was spotted by a person in the neighborhood during the mid day.

  4. Christina, Donald Piper, currently 54 YOA, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in the Iowa State Penitentiary. He was convicted in the murders of Patricia Lange and hotel worker Zurijeta Sakanovic, and remains a “suspect” in Mariana Redrovan’s 1998 death as well as Julie Bell Davis from 1997. He is a known serial killer, though I don’t recall Ms. Ponce’s name being mentioned in any of the articles. (And I could certainly be wrong.) Two great links of reference are and

  5. Was Donald Piper involved in this murder?

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts