bonnie-jean-callahan-640Courtesy photo Trish Hall (victim’s granddaughter)
Bonnie Jean Callahan

Bonnie Jean Callahan

Homicide — SOLVED

Bonnie Jean Callahan
73 YOA
111 S. Second St., Apt. 10
Mississippi Terrace
Keokuk, IA
Lee County
Case #: 04SME155
June 15, 2004
Arrest Made: May 5, 2020
Suspect: Nathanial Leo Ridnour, 34
Charged with Murder in the First Degree


UPDATE — Man Arrested, Charged in Cold Case

In a press release dated Tuesday, May 5, 2020, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) announced the arrest of a suspect in the June 2004 death of Bonnie Callahan, 73, of Keokuk.

According the release:

In April of 2017, the Division of Criminal Investigation’s (DCI) Major Crime Unit and the Keokuk Police Department reopened the investigation into the June 2004 death of Bonnie Callahan, 73, of Keokuk.

On June 15, 2004, family members reported Callahan missing. Later in the day, Callahan’s body was found along the bank of the Mississippi River front in Keokuk. The circumstances surrounding Callahan’s death were considered suspicious. The investigation identified Nathanial Leo Ridnour, 34, as a suspect in Callahan’s homicide.

Nathanial Ridnour (Courtesy Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

The Keokuk Police Department and the DCI ‘s Major Crime Unit provided an updated case briefing to the Lee County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office (Area Prosecutions). On May 4, 2020, an arrest warrant was issued for Ridnour for the murder of Callahan. Murder in the First Degree is a violation of Section 707.2(1) of the Code of Iowa, a Class A Felony. If convicted, the charge carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole. On May 5, 2020, Ridnour was taken into custody by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office on the arrest warrant.

Read the full press release here.

Bonnie Jean Callahan, 73, of 111 S. Second St., Apt. 10, Mississippi Terrace in Keokuk, was last seen alive at 10:30 p.m. Monday, June 14, 2004.

Lee County in Iowa
Lee County in Iowa
Keokuk in Lee CountyKeokuk in Lee County

A fisherman discovered her body Tuesday afternoon in the Mississippi River, floating in a small cove near the Southside Boat Club.

According to an email Callahan’s granddaughter, Trish Hall, sent to Iowa Cold Cases on Jan. 12, 2014, her grandmother was bludgeoned and placed in the river.

Bonnie CallahanCourtesy photo Trish Hall
Bonnie Jean Callahan

“She was a lively lady who just had knee surgery and took her dog with her everywhere,” Hall said of her grandmother. “There is no way she left her dog at home and walked the half mile to the river without her shoes or other personal items (teeth, jacket, etc.).”

Every year in the fall, Hall said, her family has a memorial event in Montrose where they release balloons and pray for an answer to a pointless murder.

Trish Hall also sent Iowa Cold Cases an autopsy sketch of her grandmother’s injuries, along with the description accompanying the sketch. Click either photo to view larger image.

Bonnie Callahan autopsy sketch
Courtesy Trish Hall
Autopsy sketch detailing Bonnie Jean Callahan’s injuries. Click photo for larger view.


Bonnie Callahan autopsy description Courtesy Trish Hall
Autopsy description detailing Bonnie Jean Callahan’s injuries. Click photo for larger view.

The following articles — listed in chronological order — provide details on what’s been reported on the case so far.

Body recovered from riverThe Daily Gate City, Keokuk, Iowa

By Cindy Iutzi/Gate City Staff Writer | Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 12:00 a.m.

The body of a missing Keokuk woman was discovered Tuesday in the Mississippi River by a man fishing from the river bank.

Bonnie Callahan, 73, of 111 S. Second St., Apt. 10, Mississippi Terrace, was reported missing by her family Tuesday morning.

“We know she was alive Monday night,” said Keokuk Police Chief R. L. Dobson. “Her son dropped her off at 10:30 p.m., and the family discovered she was not in her apartment yesterday. An officer went there and we started looking for her.”

Dobson said the department had been prepared to publish a photo of Callahan today, asking people for help with the search.

Family members had become concerned about her because her dog was in the apartment alone, not a usual occurrence.

The police are not treating the incident as foul play, but are thoroughly investigating the disappearance and apparent drowning.

“If anybody who knows Mrs. Callahan saw her after 10:30 p.m. Monday, we would appreciate any legitimate calls,” Dobson said.

Callahan’s body was found floating in a small cove about 200 yards north of the Southside Boat Club.

“A sort of bullnose goes out into the river where they would load the gambling boat,” Dobson said. “That creates a little cove. The backwaters could have brought her there.”

After the police were alerted about the body, the first thing officers did was shut down public access to the road to the old gambling boat site. Keokuk Emergency Corps put a boat into the water and the fire department and Lee County EMS also responded.

Assistant Lee County Coroner Dr. Edelero Escobar was called to the scene and released the body. He also made calls to the medical center in Des Moines where an autopsy is being performed. Det. Dustin Briscoe of the KPD there for the autopsy.

Dobson said Lee County Dr. Eugenio Torres usually performs autopsies, but is on vacation.

The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation has been called in to help with interviews associated with the investigation. In a case like this drowning, state officers assist with the autopsy and manpower issues that arise when officers have to talk with many people, Dobson said.

Steve Tabone, executive director of the Keokuk Housing Authority, oversees Mississippi Terrace.

“We were shocked and concerned for the family,” Tabone said. “Her family checked on her regularly, almost daily. The family contacted the police department when she was missing and we have cooperated. They were trying to find out where she might be.

“It’s a shocking situation. Obviously the police are looking into it and will find out what happened.”

Tabone said she was active, got out and about and drove.

The dog is being cared for by family, he added.

Police await autopsy resultsThe Daily Gate City, Keokuk, Iowa

By Cindy Iutzi/Gate City Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, June 18, 2004 12:00 am

Two days after the body of a Keokuk woman was found Tuesday in the Mississippi River, the investigation into her death continues.

Bonnie Callahan, 73, of 111 S. Second St., Apt. 10, Mississippi Terrace in Keokuk, had last been seen alive at 10:30 p.m. Monday.

A fisherman discovered her body Tuesday afternoon floating in a small cove near the Southside Boat Club.

Keokuk Police Chief R. L. Dobson said the autopsy is not complete and the toxicology report is still outstanding.

The case is under investigation.

“It’s very much an ongoing investigation and it’s being conducted thoroughly,” Dobson said.

Dobson asks anyone who saw Callahan after 10:30 p.m. Monday to call the police station, 524-2741.

Cause of woman’s death is undeterminedThe Daily Gate City, Keokuk, Iowa

Posted: Friday, August 13, 2004 12:00 am

For the Daily Gate City

Without new leads to shed light on the undetermined cause of Bonnie Callahan’s death on June 15, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Keokuk Police Department has suspended active investigation into the case, police said today.

The body of the 73-year old resident of Mississippi Terrace, Keokuk, was found in the Mississippi River about 200 yards north of the Southside Boat Club in the afternoon of June 15.

Callahan had last been seen at about 10:30 p.m. in her apartment.

On June 16 an autopsy was completed in Des Moines by Dr. Jerrie McLemore. The results of the autopsy were ruled undetermined.

With the assistance of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Keokuk detectives carried out searches, conducted numerous interviews, issued subpoenas and gave polygraph tests.

The case will remain open but inactive pending new leads.

The CID encourages anyone with information about the Callahan case or any one who may have seen her on or after June 14 to contact investigators at 524-7704.

About Bonnie Callahan (from obituary)

Bonnie Jean Callahan, 73, of Keokuk, died Tuesday, June 15, 2004.

She was born October 13, 1930 in Tama Township, Des Moines County, Iowa, the daughter of William Ernest and Luella Hull Hill. She married Walter Raymond Callahan on January 15, 1949 in Burlington, Iowa. He preceded her in death on November 27, 1990.

bonnie-callahan-headstone-findagraveCourtesy photo Stone Reader,
Bonnie Callahan is buried at the Montrose Cemetery in Lee County, Iowa.

She had lived in Keokuk since 1960 and had been employed as a CNA at Montrose Health Care Center, retiring in 1988. She was a member of All Saints Parish. She was a volunteer at Mississippi Terrace and served as a security monitor.

She loved her grandchildren and Peach, her dog. She loved the river. She liked to walk, paint, play cards, do jigsaw puzzles, embroider, shoot pool, garden, camp and feed the ducks.

She is survived by children, Nancy West and her husband, Dean, of Bothell, Washington, Randy Callahan and his wife, Leann, of Ft Madison, Iowa, Susan Jobe and her friend, Bob Stuck, of Hamilton, Illinois, Mary Ellen Hall and her friend, Dan Short, of Bonaparte, Iowa, Roberta White and her husband, Harold, of Ione, California, Gary Callahan and his friend, Violet Spoores, of Keokuk and Julie Stinson and her husband, Ron, of Argyle, Iowa; twelve grandchildren, Jessica, Bonnie, Rachel, Amy, Heidi, Celeste, Trisha, Matthew, Christopher, Jennifer, Amanda and Ryan; twelve great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; four children, Bonnie Rae, James, John and Joe; and two brothers.

Visitation was held from 7–9 p.m. Saturday, June 19, 2004, at DeJong’s Funeral Home in Keokuk, with a Christian wake at 7:30 p.m.

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 20, 2004 at DeJong’s Funeral Home with Rev. Christopher David officiating.

A private family inurnment was held at a later date and Bonnie’s remains laid to rest at the Montrose Cemetery in Montrose, Lee County, Iowa.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Bonnie Callahan’s death, please contact Keokuk police investigators at (319) 524-7704, or contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email



18 Responses to Bonnie Callahan

  1. Anna says:

    Maybe Kayla should think about the person she’s trying to defend. The reason he is a registered sex offender is because he sent inappropriate pictures to her underage sister “on accident”! I’ve known him since we were kids and he admitted to me that was why he has to register.

  2. Skyler Gallup says:

    I know I was probably only 4 and I don’t remember you but I grew up knowing your story grandma I love you and they got him! I hope you can lay peacefully now much love

    • Kayla Ridnour says:

      U should feel sorry for his family to have to go through this.

      • John says:

        Kayla no she shouldn’t, if proven guilty your husband killed a 73 year old women. He deserves to rot in a cage for the rest of his life. He is also a registered sex offender so maybe they can go after you next for child endangerment for allowing a sex offender in the home with your children. Your comment disgust me.

        • Kayla Ann Ridnour says:

          John one my children don’t live with me. And yes she should because they are not the only ones hurting. He has a family and a child of his own that may never see his dad again.

        • Anna says:

          so we are not going to talk about the fact he is a registered sex offender because he sent an inappropriate picture to his wife’s underage sister. He admitted that to me himself before anyone knew that he had murdered this woman.

  3. Donald Mackie says:

    Love you Trish I know it mean so much for you to be able to get some closure 💔💔

  4. Sonya Jean Wickham says:

    I hope that you get the answers you deserve…Your mother was a wonderful person that was kind and loving…A very special person that will always be remembered

  5. LuAnn says:

    Rip Bonnie

  6. my heart goes out to the family. you have my prayers and I hope someday justice will be had. ♥

  7. Wendy Holman says:

    Bonnie Callahan you are not forgotten

  8. Trish Hall thought of you and the family as I read this I hope you find the truth about what happened love you guys

  9. R.I. P.Bonnie Callahan

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