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Corey Wieneke, 22, was found bludgeoned to death on the bedroom floor of his rural West Liberty home on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1992. Wieneke’s fiancée, Jody Hotz, also of West Liberty, said she last saw him alive around 8:15 a.m. that morning and discovered his beaten body in his bedroom at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening.
West Liberty Police, the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Department and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation investigated the crime.
Larry Goepel of the DCI said Wieneke had been killed sometime during the day Tuesday. He encouraged anyone with information to call the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Department.
An autopsy determined Wieneke died from blunt trauma to the body. A blood-stained aluminum softball bat found one mile from Wieneke’s home was taken to the Department of Criminal Investigation’s laboratory for testing, and later confirmed as being the murder weapon.
Wieneke was an employee at Wink’s Tap, a downtown West Liberty tavern owned by his grandmother, Betty Wieneke. Corey Wieneke worked as the late shift bartender.
Muscatine County sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the area around Wieneke’s home while DCI personnel processed the murder scene, located about three miles west of West Liberty.
KCRG-TV Channel 9 news reporter Mike Wagner discovered the softball bat when he couldn’t get his vehicle started so decided to walk up the gravel road to Wieneke’s one-story house. About a mile away, he saw the metal bat on the road’s north edge.
Wagner informed law officers, who hurried from the murder scene to see the bat. DCI investigators took photographs and measurements before removing the bat from the scene.
The bat had white tape around the handle and a blue barrel with Power Flite Heavyweight in white lettering on it. The white lettering appeared to have blood stains on it. The bat also had the bar code still affixed and the corners weren’t worn, which indicated it may have been recently purchased.
In a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated Oct. 23, 1992, Sgt. Greg Orr, an investigator for the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed that the bat was bought at a Wal-Mart, but didn’t indicate which one. Orr also said bats with that kind of blue color were last shipped to the area a year prior to the murder. He stated the bat could have been left over from the previous year’s inventory.
The Power Flite Heavyweight bat had been relatively inexpensive; the murder weapon had a $15 retail price and was bought on sale for $13.
Authorities believed Wieneke knew his killer and said there was no evidence to suggest it was a random killing, and that they believed the person responsible was not from West Liberty but possibly from Iowa City.
Investigators also said they did not believe the murder was drug-related, and that it could be connected to a relationship Wieneke had with a woman. Wieneke was returning home from Iowa City around 7 a.m. the day of the murder.
Investigators interviewed more than 400 individuals in the months following Wieneke’s death, but in an Associated Press story dated 10 years after the murder, Sgt. Mark Kopf of the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office said no motive had been developed and no one identified as a suspect.
“We just have to get some good information,” Kopf said. “Somebody out there knows something about this case and they need to come forward.”
Susan Wieneke said not knowing why her son died was the hardest thing to cope with.
“I can’t imagine that somebody had something as awful against him,” Susan Wieneke said in the AP story published at qconline.com Oct. 20, 2002. “We didn’t know he had any enemies at all.”
Mrs. Wieneke said she suspected that whoever killed her son knew him as well as her son’s dog, Casey.
“She was always very protective of him,” she said of her son’s golden Labrador retriever.
Corey Lee Wieneke was born March 25, 1970 in Muscatine, Iowa, the son of James and Susan Winfield Wieneke. He was a 1988 graduate of West Liberty High School, where he played center on the football team that made it to the Class AA semifinals.
He worked as a bartender at Wink’s Tap in West Liberty for several years.
Friends gathered from 2 – 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at the West Liberty Chapel of the Barker Funeral Home, where a Christian Wake service was held at 7:30 p.m.
A funeral Mass was held at 10 a.m. Friday morning at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Liberty with the Rev. Tim Bernamann officiating. Wieneke was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in West Liberty.
Survivors included his parents, James and Susan Wieneke, West Liberty; his fiancée, Jody Hotz, West Liberty; a daughter, Megan Lee; grandparents, Betty Wieneke, and Edmund and Luetta Winfield, all of West Liberty; great-grandmother, Helen Janney, West Liberty; and great-grandmother Helen Crossett, Iowa City.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Corey Wieneke’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.
Anyone with information about Corey Wieneke’s unsolved murder is encouraged to call the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office at (563) 263-6055 or (800) 369-9635, or contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.