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Barbara Lealyn Lenz, 31, was last seen alive by her boyfriend, who said he dropped her off at her apartment on Saturday, May 6, 1989. Barbara said she was going to visit an old boyfriend in Omaha that afternoon, but never arrived.
Lenz lived about 17 miles northeast of Missouri Valley in Woodbine, Iowa.
Lenz’s family spoke with the Woodbine Police Department Wednesday, May 17, 1989, and said they remembered specifically the last day any of them had any contact with Barbara — Wednesday, May 3.
At the time of Lenz’s disappearance, her mother was hospitalized in Missouri Valley with pneumonia and Lenz visited her every day. When Lenz didn’t visit her mother for two days in a row, her mother sent relatives to check Lenz’s residence.
Inside the home they found Lenz’s coffee pot half-full and still switched to the “on” position, a pile of half-folded laundry, and Lenz’s keys and her purse. It appeared she’d been interrupted in the middle of folding her laundry and taken from the home against her will.
Lenz, who had a 3-year-old daughter, hasn’t been seen since.
In May 2006, mushroom hunters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, found a 55-gallon barrel with a woman’s skeletal remains inside, but dental records concluded the woman was not Lenz.
Lenz has a purple-colored scar two inches below her left elbow. Officials classified Lenz as being in physical danger, and her case remains unsolved.
According to NamUs, a DNA profile has been submitted and is complete.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Barbara Lenz’s case 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 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 about what happened to Barbara Lenz, please contact Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Don Shreffler at (712) 396-3821.