Beth Ricketts (Courtesy Iowa Department of Public Safety)

Beth Ricketts (Courtesy Iowa Department of Public Safety)

Beth Ann Ricketts


Name: Beth Ann Ricketts
Age at Report: 31 YOA
4000 Dubuque Avenue
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Investigating Agency: Des Moines Police Department
Case # 1997-57018
NamUs MP # 17248
Last Seen Alive: Dec. 22, 1997
Reported Missing: Dec. 23, 1997


Polk County in Iowa
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines in Polk CountyDes Moines in Polk County

Beth Ann Ricketts, a 31-year-old military veteran and mother of three young children, vanished from Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, Dec. 22, 1997, under suspicious circumstances.

According to Des Moines police, Ricketts left her duplex early that morning to go Christmas shopping for her children. She drove a gold 1991 Geo Prizm and was last seen wearing black pants with a zebra belt, a white shirt, a black leather blazer, and carrying a medium-sized black purse.

Police described her as a caucasian female with strawberry blonde shoulder-length hair, blue eyes, 5-foot-8 and weighing about 120 pounds.

Ricketts disappeared sometime after purchasing Christmas presents for her kids and a dress to wear for New Year’s Eve.

She never got to wrap the presents or wear the new dress.

The same day she went missing, a fire broke out at 2:10 p.m. in the bedroom of Ricketts’ residence, causing extensive damages that totalled $7,500. Firefighters listed the cause of the fire as unknown.

The 4000 Dubuque Ave. duplex in Des Moines where Beth Ricketts lived. (Courtesy

When Ricketts hadn’t returned home by the following day, friends caring for her children reported her missing.

On Wednesday night — Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1987 — all three television networks in Des Moines aired a story about Ricketts’ disappearance. At 7:30 p.m., shortly after the story aired, Ricketts’ boyfriend, William Halterman, called police and told them Ricketts wasn’t missing after all.

Halterman told police Ricketts had contacted him via cellular telephone and said she didn’t want to be found and that she was with friends.

Halterman’s allegations didn’t make sense; Ricketts loved her children and had been looking forward to both Christmas with her kids and New Year’s Eve.

The Des Moines Register published a story Christmas Day about Ricketts’ mysterious disappearance, and Halterman quickly lawyered up.

Police initially classified Ricketts’ case as “Endangered Missing” — meaning the missing person is considered to be in physical danger — and Des Moines Det. Dennis O’Donnell said police believed Ricketts had been taken against her will.

Officials reached out to the public, asking for help in filling in the blanks in the investigation.

Despite Halterman’s report that Ricketts was alive, Police Lt. Randy Dawson said the department reopened the missing persons case Jan. 7, 1998.

‘I think she has been murdered’

On Thursday, April 2, 1998, Des Moines Register reporter Tom Alex tried unsuccessfully to reach out to Halterman for a comment on Ricketts’ disappearance.

Police said [Halterman] had declined to talk to them and had hired an attorney. Investigators also questioned whether Ricketts had ever been “found” and said they believed she “quite possibly may be dead.”

The Register’s story ran Friday, April 3, 1998, and included, in part, the following:

Deepening the 3-month-old mystery for detectives is a fire that broke out and heavily damaged a bedroom in Ricketts’ residence at 4000 Dubuque Ave. on the same day that friends say she disappeared.

Ricketts has not spoken with friends and relatives nor tried to contact a son, 3, or daughter, 10, since December, police said Thursday.

“I think she has been murdered,” Assistant Des Moines Police Chief Kayne Robinson said. “But I would love to be proven wrong.”

Paul Christian said he and wife Regina are close friends of Ricketts.

“Personally, I think she is dead,” Christian said Thursday. “I don’t know how or anything. I just think that because she never got far away from her kids. If she was still alive, she would be with them. It’s been way too long.”

Des Moines Register, April 3, 1998

Though her body has never been recovered, the Des Moines Police Department classifies Beth Ricketts’ case as a homicide.

About Beth Ricketts

Beth Ann Ricketts was born October 25, 1966. She was a military veteran and lived in Oklahoma City, Okla., prior to moving to Des Moines.

She was the mother of two young daughters and a son.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Beth Ricketts’ unsolved disappearance and suspected homicide, please contact Sgt. Darren Cornwell at the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4811.

  • Des Moines Police Department, Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
  • Iowa Department of Public Safety Missing Person Information Clearinghouse
  • National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
  • The Doe Network
  • The Charley Project
  • Personal correspondence from Karen Hammett, August 2010
  • “D.M. police fear missing woman may be dead,” by Tom Alex, The Des Moines Register, Friday, April 3, 1998, Page 9
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database, FamilySearch : 23 May 2014), Bethann Ricketts, Residence, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database, FamilySearch : 22 May 2014), Beth A Colon, Residence, Choctaw, Oklahoma, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database, FamilySearch : 22 May 2014), Beth A Colon, Residence, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database, FamilySearch : 16 May 2014), Elizabeth A Ricketts, Residence, Des Moines, Iowa, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database, FamilySearch : 16 May 2014), Elizabeth Ricketts, Residence, Des Moines, Iowa, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database, FamilySearch : 16 May 2014), Beth A Colon, Residence, Killeen, Texas, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.

12 Responses to Beth Ricketts

  1. karen hammett says:

    I need some one to tell me if they ever caught this guy.. one detective told me tey thought they knew where her body was but couldn’t get on the prpoerty to search. BethAnn was my best friend and was very loved. Please try and find her. Thank you.

  2. brad says:

    was her ex husband kenny ever cleared?

  3. shanda colon says:

    It will be 20 years this December. The fact that I’m 30 and still do not have justice or even a clue as to what happened to my mom is infuriating. Why isn’t anyone still checking on this. I have called multiple times over the years regarding my mothers case and it’s always someone new stating they need to look into it and then they will call me. Well the last time I was told that was 4 years ago. IM STILL WAITING for that phone call!!! I’m so glad to know that the person responsible for this gets to live a normal life like nothing ever happened. While I get to pick up the pieces without a mom. Getting married last year was so fun without my mom there let me tell you! I’m so disappointed by the way this case has/was handled. If this was your mom I’m sure it would be a different story. I just love that every Mother’s Day, her birthday, or even her “death” date. I can’t do anything but light a candle and cry. We have no resolve, no head stone, and no peace. With that being said; how could we have any of those things when “detectives” state they have to look into it and they will call you back and you wait years for that call. Can’t believe it takes that many years to make a phone call; but hey whenever you guys “gets around to it” let me know. I’m here.

    • Carol Kean says:

      Shanda, I hear you. (This is Carol.) My sister’s cold case (Julie Benning 1975) passed the 40 year mark, then 43, and still no answers, despite my having devoted a great deal of time hunting down names and clues in my sister’s diary–the #1 perp fled to Vegas, and I flat out gave up. I hope you find answers. My family at least had the consolation of the body being found after missing Nov-March. Nobody really “gets over it” but we move on because we have to, while part of us is left behind. And knowing the killer(s) walked free and lived to have grandchildren who adore them: meh!

      • Patrick Kerrigan says:

        Some of these agencies will only relook at the case, when there is a tip. Others because of the new forensic tools, are rechecking evidence that they have.

        In a recent cold case a new investigator was looking a the files. He looked at the crime scene photos, and noticed a glove in the photos. He checked and found they still had the glove, and had it tested and it led to the offender. All, this time the answers were in the original case file. Which is something mentioned in their review of cold cases.

        Investigators in Orange County, arrested a James Neal, (72), for the murder of a young girl walking home from school. She disappeared and was found dead, in July 1973. So their is arrest of the offender came from DNA Genealogy. This is 45 years after the incident took place.

        Also, investigators in LA County, also arrested an offender in the disappearance and murder of an 11 year old boy, from Ingleside, California, in 1990. The arrest came from basic investigation, and some forensics. They did not wait for someone to provide them with a tip. However, they believe that someone else was involved in the case.

        Sometimes it takes the local prosecutor to push the local’s. In Ohio, the new district attorney in a county decided to relook at everything. They ended up arresting and charging the guy, that they suspected of the crime. The prosecutors back then did not think they had the evidence to go to trial.

        I would try and get your mothers case into the local television media, or even to television programs that relook at cold cases. Sometimes media attention brings pressure on the agency involved.

  4. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I don’t see anything about the car, other then it was a gold in color 1994 Geo Prizm. So was her car also missing, and has it been found or recovered. What is the license plate number.

  5. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I agree with Mr. Kerrigan. Has her vehicle been found. Has it checked through the National Insurance Crime Bureau, to see what information they might have. I am sure the police would have the VIN on the vehicle.

    Also, there is no further information on the cause of the fire and whose bedroom was damaged. Also, what property can’t they search. It would be nice to purchase it and then the authorities to do whatever they need to search it.

    • Raitiesia Collins says:

      Law enforcement asking for help identifying human remains found in rural Cerro Gordo County.

      • Karen Hammett says:

        We’re they identified?

        We still wait to recover BethAnns remains.. Please.. Her kids and extended family still suffers today.. The small bit of info could crack this case open..

        • Jocelyn says:

          Yes, they are remains of an Arkansas police officer.
          My thoughts are something happened in her bedroom and the boyfriend who claimed she was still alive was lying. My condolences for her family. Not knowing is the hardest part.

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