Ryan in Delaware County, Iowa

Ryan in Delaware County, Iowa

Carl Anthony Brunen


Carl Anthony Brunen
81 YOA
Coggon, Iowa
Ryan, Iowa
Delaware County
DCI Case # 72-00427
November 8, 1972


Coggon in Linn County, Iowa

Coggon in Linn County, Iowa – Brunen lived six miles northwest of the city in Delaware County.

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.

Brunen, who lived alone, was found around 8:30 a.m. by his landlord, Kenneth Barker of rural Ryan.

The killer had ransacked the rental home, and several items were reported missing. 

According to a Manchester Democrat-Radio story published Monday, Nov. 13, 1972, Barker found Brunen lying on the ground near the home’s porch steps. 

Delaware County Sheriff Mike Barr said Brunen lived alone and sustained injuries not consistent with any type of fall. Brunen died of massive head injuries after a strike on the head, sheriff’s authorities said. 

The local sheriff’s office said Brunen’s death indicated murder with robbery as the apparent motive.

Though Coggon is in Linn County, the rural home where Brunen lived is located in Delaware County.

Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette, Nov. 9, 1972

Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette, Nov. 9, 1972

According to a 2009 report by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Brunen suffered a skull fracture and broken ribs. His residence — identified as a Ryan, Iowa, address — had been ransacked. His billfold and an older model shotgun also were missing.

Barr said Brunen reportedly had been dead several hours before Barker discovered the body.

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.

About Carl Brunen

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.

carl-brunen-gravestoneCourtesy photo Sandy Stewart, Findagrave.com
Carl Brunen is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Anamosa, Jones County.

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.

Information Needed

Anyone with information regarding Carl Brunen’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us, or contact the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at 563-927-3135.

  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Cold Case Unit, November 25, 2009
  • Delaware County Sheriff’s Office
  • Find a Grave Memorial for Carl A. Brunen
  • United States Social Security Death Index, U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File
  • “Decade of County News Highlights (1970-79), The Manchester Democrat-Radio, Monday, December 31, 1979, Pages 1 and 7.
  • C-O-M-I-N-G FARM AUCTIONS,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, December 11, 1972
  • ESTATE SALE: THE CARL BRUNEN ESTATE,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, December 10, 1972
  • “Items of Interest from The Ryan Community,” The Ryan Reporter, Monday, November 20, 1972, P. 1.
  • Obituaries: Carl E. Brunen,” The Marion Sentinel, Thursday, November 16, 1972
  • “Elderly Man Is Murdered Near Coggon,” The Manchester Democrat-Radio, Monday, November 13, 1972
  • “Robbery Motive Seen in Slaying,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Friday, November 10, 1972, P 7
  • “Seek Motive in Coggon Slaying,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thursday, November 9, 1972
  • “FIND MAN, 82, BEATEN, DEAD,” The Des Moines Register, Thursday, November 9, 1972
  • “United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch, Carl Brunen in household of Ben Brunen, Buffalo, Linn, Iowa, United States; citing sheet 4A, family 65, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820499.
  • “United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch, Carl A Brunen in household of Ben Brunen, Hazel Green, Delaware, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 97, sheet 8B, family 91, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374413.
  • “Iowa, State Census, 1905,” index, FamilySearch, Carl Brunen, 1905; citing Census, Delaware, Iowa, United States, card 186, State Historical Department, Des Moines; FHL film 001430371.
  • “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, index and images, FamilySearch, Carl Anthony Brunen, 1917-1918.

4 Responses to Carl Brunen

  1. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Mr. Elledge, hopefully with the recent cold case arrests, this might the DCI to rebook at this case. If the cases are connected as it would seem and it involves two different jurisdictions, then it would seem that the DCI should take the lead on this case. It should be somewhat easy for them to put together.

    It has been my idea that the Attorney Generals of our 50 states should create a Statewide Cold Case Unit. These units would have the staff, to tell at these cases especially in those jurisdictions which don’t have the staff and resources to investigate.

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Mr. Elledge, do you remember the name of the individal that was charged. It might be something to tie him to this case. Also, how far away is Jones County from Delaware County. What was similar between the two cases. I assume the offender is deceased by now.

    • David Elledge says:

      Yes, when the Jones County case happened, the M.O. And signature evidence matched.
      That is the reason Delaware County Sheriff’s investigator Bert Elledge suspected the same man as the killer in the Delaware County case. Elledge worked closely with then
      Jones County Deputy Jim Benter. Benter would be your best contact. Sheriff Barr of
      Delaware County is deceased, as well as Deputy (later sheriff) Bert Elledge. If I recall correctly the suspect was convicted in the Jones County case, (the victim did not die
      In that one) through the investigative efforts of Elledge and Benter. Seems like if memory serves the suspect upon conviction got 10 years, and did time. Jones County Clerk of Court should have the records, and Benter first hand knowledge. Seems like a few years ago DCI had it on their priority cold case list, and were digging back into it at one time.
      Good luck.

  3. David Elledge says:

    The Deputy Sheriff (later Sheriff) Bert Elledge, who worked the case, believed he knew did it, but could not prove it.
    Later the suspect committed a similar crime using the same method of assault on another individual as memory serves, in Jones County. Deputy Jim Benter of Jones County worked that particular case. The victim survived, and an individual was charged,
    and did prison time on the Jones County case.

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