Christopher Axiotis (Courtesy Facebook)

Christopher Axiotis (Courtesy Melissa Hamell and Facebook)

Christopher George Axiotis


Christopher George “Chris” Axiotis
16 YOA
Q Pond Park
Osceola, Iowa
Clarke County
November 16, 1999

Case Summary by Jody Ewing

In November 1999, Christopher “Chris” Axiotis didn’t really have a place to call home.

The 16-year-old Osceola youth’s incarcerated father had been in prison most of the teen’s life. His mother had left town to stay with a boyfriend, and even his little brother was locked up in a detention center.

Clarke County in Iowa
Clarke County in Iowa
Osceola Iowa
Osceola in Clarke County

Axiotis had begun staying with friends, most recently with Deb Barringer in Osceola. He’d dated Angie Ruth for a few years, and the two were working on getting back together.

On Tuesday, November 16, 1999, Ruth sat in a classroom when word trickled into school about a body being found at the Q Pond Park on Osceola’s northwest edge. It was somebody from school, she heard, but at the time no one knew the victim’s identity.

After school, Ruth went home and got the call. Officials had identified the body as that of her longtime friend, Chris Axiotis.

No Visible Trauma

Found lying face down in the park, Axiotis wore just one shoe. He had no visible signs of trauma to his body, and authorities ordered more extensive tests.

Temperatures had dipped below freezing to 30 degrees Monday night.

Osceola police officers, the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department and State Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents interviewed the teen’s friends and acquaintances in efforts to solve the circumstances behind his death.

Axiotis had completed his sophomore year at Clarke Community High School, and moved to Mason City to live with his grandmother before eventually returning to Osceola. He hadn’t enrolled for fall classes.

Courtesy Mason City Globe Gazette

Courtesy Mason City Globe Gazette

Police Chief Steve Niebur said an autopsy failed to determine cause of death. A Mason City Globe Gazette article quoted Niebur as saying there were no traces of eight major illegal drugs or alcohol found in Axiotis’ body, but further toxicology reports were pending.

Drugged and Dumped

Word on the street, Ruth said, was that Chris had been at Barringer’s house Monday night along with three other young men, and that one of them had injected Chris with cocaine. He’d smoked pot before, Ruth said, but had never done cocaine prior to that night.

Courtesy Mason City Globe Gazette

Courtesy Mason City Globe Gazette

Ruth said the stories and rumors circulating in Osceola remained consistent; when Chris overdosed, she said, Barringer and the others apparently “freaked out,” and instead of taking him to the hospital, dumped him off at Q Pond. The only variance to the story was the question of whether or not one specific individual had also been present at Barringer’s that night.

Police allegedly found Axiotis’ other shoe during a search of Barringer’s vehicle.

Two separate memorials were held — one in Mason City and one in Osceola — and though Barringer showed up for the Osceola service, she didn’t come all the way in and stood briefly at the back door before leaving. Barringer, along with two of the young men who’d been present that night, moved away from Osceola shortly after Axiotis’ funeral.

Two of the young men have since spent time in and out of prison, Ruth said.

Axiotis’ “cause of death” was eventually ruled as hypothermia, but Ruth said no one close to him believed that to be the sole cause.

“He may have got hypothermia, but that was due to him being dropped off at Q Pond while overdosed on drugs,” she told Iowa Cold Cases. “We believe he was still alive when he was dropped off and he could not get to help due to being overdosed and he died there.”

Nothing was ever done to any of the individuals involved, she said.

About Chris Axiotis

Christopher George Axiotis was born Jan. 24, 1983, in Mason City, Iowa, to Penny Howell and Randy Axiotis. He died Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1999, in Osceola at age 16.

A Mason City Globe-Gazette obituary listed his residence as 514 East Webster in Osceola.

Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, 1999 at the Fullerton Funeral Home in Mason City, with the Rev. Bill Poland of Wesley United Methodist Church officiating. Visitation was held from 9 a.m. until the time of services on Friday.

Cremation followed the service.

Chris loved riding dirt bikes, going cruising, looking for girls, and listening to new alternative music. He could often be found shooting pool, playing basketball or baseball, kicking the hacky sack, or just hanging out with his friends and family. He was very much into the spirit of Christmas and everything the season had to offer. Most of all Chris was very particular about what clothes he wore.

He was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church.

Survivors included his mother, Penny Howell, of Osceola; his father, Randy and his wife, Mary Axiotis; one brother, Nicholas Axiotis, of Osceola; four stepbrothers, Kevin Hamilton, Allen Hamilton, Johnny Hamilton and Anthony Michael Starbuck, all of Mason City; maternal great-grandparents, Ed and Stella Tosel, Mason City; great-grandfather, Alvin Nuehring of Rockwell; grandparents, John and Jean Howell; paternal great-grandmother, Esther Peskie; great aunt Cindy O’Rourke; aunts and uncles, Jeff and Tracy Movick and Eric and Linda Howell; three cousins, Amber Movick, Jamie Howell and Coty Howell; several step cousins and his god parents.

Chris was preceded in death by his maternal great-grandmother, Estella Nuehring; paternal grandparents, George and Diane Axiotis; grandfather, Donald Peskie; and great-grandmother, Margaret Grant.

A memorial fund was established in Chris’s name.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Chris Axiotis’ mysterious death, please call the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email


33 Responses to Chris Axiotis

  1. Natalie Anne says:

    I assure you my dad is a very thourough policeman, and not at all lazy. Please think about what you say before throwing it out there. I know it is difficult for those who new the victim and I also know that my dad thinks about it all the time…

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Natalie, thanks so much for your comments, and you are exactly right. Just because a case isn’t solved doesn’t mean police or investigators were lazy; in many cases it comes down to them knowing who did it but also knowing they don’t have enough solid evidence to prosecute and guarantee a conviction. There’d be nothing worse than seeing a killer acquitted, knowing he or she could never be tried again due to double jeopardy laws.

      If people could see the size of the case files on some of these victims, they’d understand how hard local officials really worked to find out everything possible about the crime.

  2. I remember this happening, as I went to middle school with Chris in Mason City.

  3. His other shoe was found in her car so that should prove he was dumped from her car

  4. Nick Axiotis says:

    Hey this is Nick Axiotis, Chris’s brother. It’s been 17Yrs tomorrow that we lost my brother. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I miss him. Thank you Ashley Nelson, and Carol Scott, miss you guys. Iowa Cold case please get ahold of me via my wife’s Facebook “Melissa Ferraro” she will give me the message.
    We all know Tyler Horn has the answers to my brothers cold case. I’d like some answers in my brothers death. It’s hard to live with day to day, not knowing what happened to him. If anyone has any information, that they are tired of living with, please contact Cold Case or myself. Thank you,
    Nick Axiotis

    • Nick Axiotis says:

      I’m sorry 16yrs… on this 16th of November.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Nick, there are a number of people named Melissa Ferraro on FB. Could you provide her FB ID (after the url) so I know I have the correct person? Thanks in advance.

      • Nick Axiotis says:

        Hi Jody, I, Melissa Ferraro, liked your Iowa Cold Case page. If that is any help. I can also message your page for you.

    • Angie ruth says:

      Thinking of you all Nick. Love you guys so much and miss Chris like crazy as well. We will continue to do what we need to and work together to get to the bottom of all of this. If ya ever need anything u got my number now.

    • Danii Freeman says:

      Nick and Penny Love and miss the neck outta both you guys. I talked to Tyler not to long ago he is animosa state prison and is more then willing to answer and and all of peoples questions he still claims he had no involvement but thats not for me to say. I know for a fact he said that Mark Woods is the person that needs to be checked into he was pretty certain that mark has the answers everyone has been looking for. Now im not sticking up for Tyler nor speaking for him i am just here to say when i brought it up to him bout the cold case being opened he was excited and said he was glad cause the people involved needed to pay for their actions…. i am not trying to upset anyk ne i just wanted to throw out anything i know… And Brett dont you have somethings you need to twlk Penny and Nick as well. I made a call to 911 telling them they would find his blood and shoe in Debs car and told them some names of people they needed to check out more idr the names other then tyler horn and mark woods. This information came from Brett…. He was to scared to call himself so i went to a pay phone and did it for him….. hope any and all of this helps love ya

  5. penny kern says:

    This is Penny Howell Kern Christopher Axiotis mother today marks the passing of my eldest son life.there’s not one day that goes by that I don’t feel the loss. So many years has passed but someone somewhere has the answers to his death justice needs to be served for not only myself but for family and friends.He was amazing young man full of life and is greatly missed please if anyone can help us we all need closer to this mystery of hid death thank you so much his mother penny.

    • C says:

      Did you abandon your children when you moved with your boyfriend? Why was this kid parentless for most/all his teen life? Shameful…

      • Melissa says:

        And you whom can’t name yourself as you judge others openly? What do you call yourself? “C”

      • Angie Ruth says:

        Amen Melissa! I totally agree with you! Whoever “c” is is a coward and too chicken shit to put their name!

        • Melissa says:

          I’m just really glad my husband, Chris’s brother, doesn’t have to read all of this crap. His brother is loved and missed everyday by many. May he always R.I.P. ♡

  6. Tami Parrish says:

    Prayers for his family…what a hateful act upon a young man.

  7. Diana Wilson says:

    I ope this is solved.

  8. Rene Foster says:

    So where are these people now. Deb Barringer, and the others that left town! Anyone know their whereabouts, and have the police been keeping tabs on them.

    • Angie ruth says:

      Last I knew deb was in Grand River IA, Tyler and Josh both in prison and the other male in des moines IA area. The cops closed the case shortly after the death. I’m sure they’re not keeping tabs on them but they should be!!

  9. RIP.. I remember him from school before he moved away. Prayers that his case will one day be solved.

  10. We miss yu and love u Chris.. Hope we can all figure this out soon. We will never give up..

  11. This kid was a total junkie trouble maker and was on his way to ending up in prison.Had been in and out of trouble his whole life.The police in Osceola weren't lazy.If anything maybe a little neglegent in not locking him up where he belonged.They just didn't give a shit along with everyone else.It's sad that he lost his life at such a young age and that no one got him help before any of this happened.

    • pennykern says:

      I’m praying for you janson Briggs Chris Axiotis mom penny kern.

    • Bobbi says:

      Chris was far from a total junkie trouble maker. He may have had troubles but he was a great person and one of my best friends. I believe there was a lack in police work but I may be biased because of my friendship with Chris. There were many people who “gave a shit” and still do. I would like to see this case solved as would many other people who found Chris an important person in their lives. This is not the place to talk bad about the deceased.

    • Krystal Ficken says:

      That was my brother, he was an amazing kid. He was bright and had a future in front of him. We had fucked up parents but one thing we had was respect, morals and street smarts. Come to mason city and say that shit to his brother and sister. You poor excuse of air, that should have been u not my brother.

  12. Penny Kern says:

    Jason Briggs this is his mother who the hell are you to judge my son.You must not of know him well because you don't have your fact's straight about anything you wrote about him.He was a straight A student and well liked.You must be a pretty miserable person to pass judgement on the dead.have a nice day!!!!!!

    • Stevie says:

      You getting some from your boyfriend was more important than taking care of your kid so you have nothing to say about it now do ya??,

      • Penny says:

        Stevie no one’s knows who you are so your post are at no Merit why after all these years why would your comments even matter you don’t even know us so who are you to put your two sense in.hatefulness it was are loss and pain so please keep your comments to your self thank you Chris mother

        • anon says:

          Penny, I am sorry that this horrid person named as Stevie wants to cause you emotional harm like that. Iowa law allows youth to be emancipated at 16 and it is NOT YOUR FAULT that some psychopath caused harm to your son! My own son was shot through the head (but survived) in a senseless armed robbery in Seattle in 2014 so I can only begin to feel your pain. Stevie is a horrid person.

      • Jody Ewing says:

        In efforts to keep readers from thinking I “pick and choose” what comments to keep or delete on these case summary pages, I seldom (to almost never) delete anyone’s comment unless it is filled with curse words or downright vulgarities.

        Stevie, your comment toward Chris’s mother, however, was downright cruel and I don’t understand why you’d want to intentionally inflict more grief on a mother already suffering the anguish of having lost her son. Your comment contributed nothing to searching for or finding answers in Chris’s death, and I can’t fathom why you’d want to contribute nothing more than a personal attack.

        The reason we have a comments section on each victim’s page is because we hope it will generate thoughtful discussion and insight, and perhaps even provide an overlooked clue for law enforcement to pursue. (Yes, investigators do routinely review the comments on the cases they’re either working or have worked on in the past.)

        I don’t know you or your own mother, but my guess is that she brought you up to be a better man than this and would be ashamed to see you attacking Chris’s mother. You may not yet realize it, but one day you’ll understand why words of kindness always outweigh words of hate.

        Just for today, I challenge you to do something kind for another who least expects it. Whether it be just a smile, an effort to hold a door, or a simple genuine ‘thank you’ to another, you’ll be surprised at how much joy it will bring to you.

        • Krystal Ficken says:

          I miss my brother so much and know he is with me every step I take. 19 years and its still as hard as that day.

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