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Charles William “Binx” Netherland, 25, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head at 801 Mulberry Ave. in Muscatine, Iowa, on Saturday, August 18, 2012.
According to a Muscatine Journal article published Friday, October 19, 2012, police at the time treated the death as a suicide, though the family believed from the beginning Netherland was murdered.
“I’m not giving up until justice is served,” Netherland’s mother, Penny McDonnell, told the Journal.
In the same article, Lt. Jeff Jirak of the Muscatine Police Department said the death report had not yet been finalized and the incident was still under investigation.
Iowa Cold Cases has reviewed crime scene photos, pre-autopsy photos, and also obtained copies of all police department taped interviews with those at the crime scene the night of Charles’ death as well as follow-up interviews. Witness statements vary from one to another and at times give at least three conflicting versions of what happened that night.
On October 19, 2012, Netherland’s friend, Steve Booth of Muscatine, organized a peaceful protest outside the Public Safety Building at 312 E. Fifth Street. About 8 a.m. about 20 people began marching around the building, carrying signs reading “Justice for Charles” among other things.
Booth told the Journal he’d organized the peaceful demonstration because he’d heard several rumors about the crime scene that didn’t make sense.
Channel 4 News Report on Charles Netherland’s Death
“They didn’t put up crime scene tape and they let people walk around the scene hours after it happened,” Booth told Journal reporter Joe Jarosz, adding that he also heard someone say that a person “came down the stairs laughing” after the shooting (entirely hearsay and is not consistent with the subject’s response after learning Charles hadn’t survived the gunshot wound).
Jirak did not respond to allegations made at the demonstration, but said the department had no problems with the protesters being there as long as it remained peaceful.
“We’re continuing to follow though with leads, waiting for the autopsy report and doing our diligence for the case that we do for all our other cases and the evidence and facts will lead us to a conclusion with the case,” Jirak said.
Penny McDonnell established a Facebook page — RIP Charles Netherland — the same day she learned of her son’s death.
She told the Muscatine Journal she’d contacted several lawyers and wanted the “feds” involved in the investigation because she didn’t believe her son killed himself.
In published reports, Netherland’s blood alcohol content was reported as high as .3, although his autopsy report places it closer to .2.
While still waiting for the state medical examiner’s final report, McDonnell said she was told the death was being ruled as a suicide.
“They told me they’re going with suicide because of the police’s investigation,” she said in the Journal’s October 2012 story.
McDonnell has added dozens of photos to her son’s Facebook tribute page, and since his death has regularly monitored updates on cold cases all across Iowa.
Whenever she sees an anniversary post on Iowa Cold Cases’ Facebook page, she’s quick to reach out and offer words of comfort to the victim’s loved ones. She empathizes with their loss, extends her condolences, and keeps her thoughtful comments focused on hope and finding answers.
Occasionally, she’ll mention her own son’s death — her way of connecting with those who share similar grief — but in her comments one will not find attacks against law enforcement or angry outbursts.
Somehow, by soothing others’ wounded hearts, she’s found her own source of solace.
Charles Netherland’s Facebook tribute page may be found at https://www.facebook.com/RipCharlesNetherland.
Charles William “Binx” Netherland was born January 20, 1987, in Davenport, the son of James Netherland Sr. and Penny (Willet) McDonnell. He loved to fish, hang out with his family and friends and spend time with his daughter, Taylor.
He resided in Wilton, Iowa, and died Saturday, August 18, 2012, in Muscatine.
Funeral services were held Friday, August 24, 2012, at 1 p.m. at the Runge Mortuary in Davenport, with visitation one hour prior to the service.
Charles was buried at Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery.
Online condolences may be left at www.rungemortuary.com.
Survivors included his daughter, Taylor, and her mother, Heather Smith, Wilton; son, Kylin Miller, and his mother, Jerica, Muscatine; mother, Penny McDonnell, Muscatine; father, James Netherland, Sr., Washington, Iowa; brother, James Lee Netherland, Jr., Ankeny, Iowa; sister, Amanda Netherland, Wilton; and paternal grandmother, Loretta Netherland, Washington, Iowa.
He was preceded in death by a brother Brad in infancy.
Anyone with information regarding Charles Netherland’s death is asked to contact the Muscatine Police Department at 563-263-9922.