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On Wednesday, November 8, 1972, just one day before his 82nd birthday, Carl Anthony Brunen was beaten to death in front of his rural Coggon, Iowa home.
In a Cedar Rapids Gazette story published November 9, 1972, Delaware County Sheriff Mike Barr said Brunen lived alone at his residence six miles northwest of Coggon and died of massive head injuries.
Though Coggon is in Linn County, the rural home where Brunen lived is located in Delaware County.
According to a 2009 report by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Brunen suffered a skull fracture and broken ribs, and his residence — identified as a Ryan, Iowa, address — had been ransacked. His billfold and an older model shotgun also were missing.
Barr said the property owner, Kenneth Barker, discovered Brunen’s body, and that Brunen reportedly had been dead several hours before being found.
Deputies and officers from the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (now the DCI) were called in to assist with the case and on Thursday were seeking a motive for the slaying.
Authorities suspected a transient committed the crime, the Gazette reported on Friday, November 10, 1972. Officials said it was not immediately known if any other valuables had been taken.
When the DCI established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Carl Brunen’s murder 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 resolving 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.
Carl Anthony Brunen was born Nov. 9, 1890 in Jones County, Iowa, the first child of German immigrants Benjamin and Marie (Wroblewski) Brunen.
Ben and Marie would have 10 more children, the youngest born when Carl was 18 years old. The 11 siblings included: Carl A., Clare, Bruno E., Lena T., Martha J., Augusta C., Margaret A., Thomas A., Eleanor M., William B. and John J.
Carl was a lifelong resident of the Central City and Coggon areas.
Survivors included four brothers, Bruno, William and John Brunen of Central City, and Thomas Brunen of Cedar Rapids; six sisters, Mrs. Clare Mayou of Rochester, Minn., Mrs. Lena Henderson of Central City, Mrs. Martha Fleming of Eagle Point, Ore., Mrs. Augusta Hunter and Mrs. Margaret Barker of Coggon, and Mrs. Eleanor Merritt of Walker.
Memorial services were held at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10, at the Murdoch chapel in Central City, conducted by Father John Carpender. Interment was in Holy Cross cemetery at Anamosa.
Anyone with information regarding Carl Brunen’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at 563-927-3135.