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Sometime on Friday, August 1, 1975, Billy Lee Clark of Ottumwa, Iowa, was shot in the back in a rural Wapello County pasture.
The 43-year-old’s body, found lying next to his pick-up truck, was discovered the following day at approximately 2:23 p.m. on a farm owned by Martin Bergland, about seven miles west of Ottumwa on Route 4.
Clark would have celebrated his 44th birthday the following week.
Clark’s body was taken to Des Moines for an autopsy, and cause of death was ruled a shotgun blast to Clark’s back.
Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Special Agent Wayne Sheston assisted the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation. Two other BCI investigators, along with two agents from nearby territories and two lab personnel workers also spent time processing the murder scene and working the case.
Officials never closed the case, though later said they think Clark’s killer died shortly after the murder.
Billy Lee Clark was born August 9, 1931 in Iowa Falls, the son of Lee and Marnia Hayden Clark. He’d lived in Ottumwa nearly 15 years and most recently had been employed by John Deere Ottumwa Works.
He was survived by one son, Gary Lee of Williams; two daughters, Lois and Phyllis Clark, both of Ottumwa; five brothers, Merele of Welton, Jerry and David both of Wheatland, Lynn of Nevada and Timothy of Abilene, Texas; sisters Darlene Downs of Ackley, Shurwyn Zimmerman of Cottage Grove, Minn., Avon Mertschbrock of Fort Madison, Norma Moore of Abilene, Texas, and Nacita Flores and Melody Black, both of Crane, Texas.
He was preceded in death by one son and his parents.
Memorial services were held Wednesday, August 6, at 1:30 p.m. at Jay Funeral Home with the Rev. A.D. Pringle of the Ottumwa Baptist Temple officiating. Clark was buried in Shaul Cemetery in Ottumwa.
If you have any information about Billy Lee Clark’s unsolved murder please contact the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office at 641-684-4350.
If you have any photos of Billy you’d like to share with Iowa Cold Cases (photo credit will be provided) please email Jody.