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On Wednesday afternoon, April 25, 2001, Barbara Kay Brim, 53, was shot in her rural Hamilton County, Iowa home.
Brim’s husband, Robert “Larry” Brim, told officials he found his wife at the bottom of the basement stairs in their home near Webster City after spending the afternoon moving farm equipment. He said his wife was fine when the two had shared lunch just hours earlier.
Larry Brim said that when he came back to the house to get a drink of water, he found his wife at the bottom of the inside (basement) stairs. He told sheriff’s deputies he believed she’d just fallen down the steps. He called for help, and though Brim was still alive when medics arrived, she was unable to provide any useful information about the killer or killers.
After being transported to a Webster City hospital, medical personnel notified law enforcement that Brim had been shot in the head and neck. She was airlifted to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, where she died the following day.
Deputy State Medical Examiner Dennis Klein performed an autopsy Saturday, which confirmed Brim died from a gunshot wound.
[Then] Hamilton County Sheriff Scott Anderson said officials were not treating Larry Brim as a suspect in his wife’s murder.
No explanation has been provided to date as to why Mr. Brim was allegedly ruled out as a suspect; two witnesses stated they saw a local man’s work truck parked at the Brim resident just before the Hamilton County dispatch received the call from Larry Brim to report his wife’s alleged fall. The witnesses described the decals on the work truck and both said they knew the truck belonged to a local man — a man who’d been married many times, had a history of violence and was “good friends” with the allegedly equally abusive Larry Brim.
This same man allegedly came into a substantial amount of money immediately following Barbara Brim’s murder and opened up his own business.
Larry Brim remarried only months after Barbara’s slaying.
One longtime Webster City resident said Barbara Brim’s murder was quickly ruled an “isolated incident” of a burglary gone wrong and never fully investigated. The remote location of the Brims’ home — about 15 miles northeast of Webster City — made it a prime target for burglars, the press reported after Larry Brim told the sheriff’s office he’d found some items missing from the couple’s home, including his wallet.
Larry Brim did not provide information to the sheriff’s office about the pick-up truck two other individuals spotted at the Brim home shortly before Mr. Brim placed the call to authorities.
Barbara and Larry Brim’s three young sons still lived at home but were at school when the murder took place.
Barbara Brim, a former high school Physical Education teacher, had given up her teaching position to care for her two stepsons and the three children she had with Brim. Former student Cindi Hoveland described Barbara as “a sweet person,” and a “great mother to her boys.”
The two older sons from Larry Brim’s previous marriage had already graduated high school and no longer lived with the couple; the eldest, Mark, lived in Indiana, and Peter and his wife lived in Ankeny.
County officials offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the homicide, hoping it would lead to clues in solving Brim’s murder, but the funds went unclaimed.
Barbara Brim’s homicide remains unsolved, though Iowa Cold Cases has been told it’s one of those cases where “everybody in town knows exactly who was involved in Barb’s murder.”
“They fear for their lives,” said one individual who asked to not be identified in this case summary.
Names of those with specific details about Barbara’s unsolved case are on file with Iowa Cold Cases and will be made available to active investigators within the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Barbara Kay (Pantekoek) Brim was born February 14, 1948, in Pipestone, Minnesota, to Donna Moore and Edward Pantekoek. She graduated from Pipestone High School in 1966 and attended South Dakota State University.
She taught physical education classes at Webster City High School from 1970 to 1976, and from 1976 through 1982 served as Director of Physical Development and Recreation at Handicap Village, a private, nonprofit facility for adults with disabilities.
She married Robert “Larry” Brim in Pipestone, Minn., on January 2, 1982, and the couple farmed northeast of Webster City.
Those who knew Barbara best said she loved being a mother and was actively involved in her sons’ lives.
Barbara was a member of the Congregational-United Church of Christ, Haystack Circle, and Hamilton County Hospice/Respite. She also volunteered with Compeer and Pleasant View School and was active in many church organizations.
Memorial services were held April 30 at the Congregational-United Church of Christ in Webster City with Pastor Jim Buffington officiating.
In addition to her husband and mother, Barbara’s survivors included sons Kevin, Mark, Peter, Andrew, and Nicholas; her brothers Dick and Allen Pantekoek, and numerous other relatives.
Anyone with information about Barbara Brim’s unsolved murder is urged to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010.