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Charles Rufus Gearhart, an 89-year-old Rock Island Railroad retiree, was stabbed to death in his Cedar Rapids apartment on Wednesday, May 13, 1970, the victim of an apparent robbery.
Gearhart, the landlord of an apartment building located at 422 First Street SW, was discovered the following day by tenants Charles Frondle and Willie Harvey, who’d come to Gearhart’s apartment to complain they had no water or heat; the apartment building’s basement had flooded, extinguishing the furnace’s pilot light.
According to a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated May 15, 1970, Frondle and Harvey said they’d gone to Gearhart’s apartment at approximately 6:35 p.m. Gearhart was found between the kitchen and bedroom lying in a hallway.
Cedar Rapids Police told the Gazette the suspect had broken the apartment’s rear door in order to gain entrance. A search of Gearhart’s apartment failed to turn up the murder weapon.
Tenants told police the elderly Gearhart often flashed large sums of cash, though police were unable to locate any money in Gearhart’s apartment or in his clothing.
Charles Gearhart was born in Sand Springs, Iowa on August 22, 1880, the son of Tunis and Susan (Kaster) Gearhart.
Memorial services were held in Cedar Rapids at 12 p.m. on Monday, May 18, 1970 at the Turner Chapel East. He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Monticello, Iowa.
Charles Gearhart was survived by his wife, Bonnie, one daughter, Pauline Gearhart Barnard, two grandchildren, and two great-children.
Preceding him in death were three brothers, John, Turner, and James, and two sisters, Lily and Ella.
If you have any information about Charles Gearhart’s unsolved murder please contact the Cedar Rapids Police Department at 319-286-5375.