Diane Schofield (Courtesy Twyla Johnson)

Diane Schofield (Courtesy Twyla Johnson)

Diane Marie Schofield

Homicide

Diane Marie Schofield
21 YOA
2000 block of Southwest 20th and Porter
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Investigating Agency: Des Moines Police Department
Case # 1975-24048
July 4, 1975

Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On Thursday afternoon, July 10, 1975, a young woman’s badly decomposed body was found in the trunk of a tan 1966 Rambler in a parking lot at Southwest 20th and Porter near the Des Moines airport.

Polk County in Iowa
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines map Des Moines in Polk County

Dr. R.C. Wooters, Polk County medical examiner, identified the victim as 21-year-old Diane Marie Schofield.

Schofield, a divorcée with a 5-year-old daughter, lived at 2931 Cottage Grove in Des Moines and had worked in Des Moines as a waitress and a masseuse.

Wooters said an autopsy indicated Schofield died of strangulation.

In a Des Moines Register article dated Friday, July 11, 1975, Wooters said the victim had been dead for several days and had been strangled with a towel and that her hands and ankles were tied.

A parking lot sweeper for Warren’s Steak House had noticed an odor coming from a car in the parking lot and alerted authorities. Firemen who’d been called to the scene pried open the trunk’s lid and discovered the young woman’s body.

Courtesy Des Moines Register, July 11, 1975

Courtesy Des Moines Register, July 11, 1975 (Click for full story)

The parking area behind the steak house had been used to store airport rental cars.

Schofield’s body was found fully clothed in a green halter top and blue jeans, but with no shoes. Her hands were tied behind her back and her feet bound with twine near the ankles. She’d been strangled with a strip of knotted cloth.

Other than strangulation, the body showed no other apparent signs of violence.

Police Chief Wendell E. Nichols said robbery didn’t appear to be a motive because Schofield still wore her $200 digital wristwatch and several turquoise rings. The family identified Schofield primarily through the personal items found on the victim’s body.

Police said the 1966 Rambler was registered to the victim.

According to police and Schofield’s acquaintances at the time of her death, Mrs. Schofield had been employed as a masseuse at several massage parlors in Des Moines and also had worked as a waitress at the Totem Pole Lounge, 1503 E. Douglas Ave., the previous summer.

Determining Time of Death, Whereabouts

Dr. Wooters initially reported Schofield had been dead for approximately six days, but later revised his ruling after Des Moines police detective Clarence Jobe said police interviewed witnesses who said they’d seen Schofield alive Monday evening, July 7, the Des Moines Register reported on July 19.

According to the Register article written by Nick Lamberto, Wooters said he made the original estimate without taking the period’s high temperatures into consideration, and modified the date to place Schofield’s time of death as “sometime after 9 p.m. Monday, July 7.”

diane-schofield-courtesy-twyla

Diane Marie Schofield (Courtesy Twyla Johnson)

Schofield recently had lived at 1503 24th St. and at 3828 Cottage Grove Ave., and had rented a U-Haul trailer from the Apco Service Station, 2324 Forest Ave., about 8 p.m. on July 1 to move her belongings to her new Cottage Grove address. She returned the trailer the following day.

Witnesses told police Schofield drove into the same service station about 10 a.m. Monday, July 7, where she bought $2 worth of gasoline. An attendant on duty that night recalled that Mrs. Schofield complained about her car’s tail lights not working properly after the U-Haul trailer hitch had been removed. The service station attendant said the tail lights had apparently been fixed by an employee at the station.

An attendant said Schofield returned to the station about 9:10 p.m. that evening to buy cigarettes, and mentioned she was going to be late for work.

Schofield’s last place of employment was Dave Salem’s Foozin’ ‘n’ Boozin’, a tavern at 1803 Keosauqua Way. Salem, who said he’d known Schofield for about six weeks, said she had asked for time off about 10:30 p.m. on July 4 and that he hadn’t seen her after that.

Salem said the young mother could “do no wrong” and was “always willing to help out.”

William Smith, 22, a drug counselor for ADAPT, 512 Ninth St., said he thought he last saw Mrs. Schofield alive about 9:30 p.m. on July 4 when she took him and his 18-year-old nephew to Smith’s home and dropped them off.

“She told us she was going to take a shower and go to work at Fooze and Booze,” Smith is quoted as saying in a Des Moines Register article dated July 12, 1975.

Schofield’s gravestone lists her date of death as July 4 — the day her closest friends last saw her alive. The day also coincides with the medical examiner’s initial findings.

“Mixed up at times”
Courtesy Des Moines Register, July 12, 1975 (Click for full story)

Courtesy Des Moines Register, July 12, 1975 (Click for full story)

In the Register’s July 12 story, Smith described Schofield as “mixed up at times” and said she “seemed to have a lot of pressure on her.” Smith said he was acquainted with Mrs. Schofield “because I had done time with her husband (Kenneth) at Anamosa. I got out a year ago Monday.”

Smith also referenced Mrs. Schofield’s “gun charge was kind of bad,” stating that someone else had slipped a gun to her to avoid getting caught. According to the Register, police records showed Diane Schofield was sentenced in January 1975 to five years in the Women’s Reformatory for carrying a concealed .22-caliber pistol but was placed on probation. She’d been arrested on the charge April 23, 1974.

Mike Killion, 22, said he’d known Mrs. Schofield for about seven years, had seen her at the Clearwater Beach on Friday afternoon (July 4), and that he believed more than one person killed her because Schofield was strong and knew karate.

“I was the one who reported her missing Monday and started the search for her. She didn’t show up for work,” Killion told the Register.

Attorney William Kutmus, who represented Schofield in her concealed weapon charge, said she told him several months earlier that she’d been asked to be some type of informant relating to drugs. Officers connected with Schofield’s investigation said they’d had no knowledge of her being an informant.

Schofield’s mother, Marie Dalton, told the Register her daughter finished ninth grade in the Saydel school district. The Register also reported on July 12, 1975:

Records show she was married to Kenneth L. Schofield in 1969 and was divorced from him in 1970 — when she was 16. Records also show Mrs. Schofield was awarded custody of the couple’s daughter.

“Justice for Diane Schofield” Launched on Facebook

In January 2015, Diane Schofield’s sister, Twyla Johnson, and family friend Amy Sauve launched a new public Facebook group, “Justice for Diane Schofield.” The group is hoping to find answers about what happened to Diane nearly four decades ago. Please take a moment to visit this new Facebook page and learn how you can help Diane’s family find closure.

About Diane Schofield

Diane Marie (Dalton) Schofield was born November 1, 1953, to Kenneth and Marie Dalton.

diane-schofield-gravestoneCourtesy photo Katie Lou, findagrave.com
Diane is buried at the McDivitt Grove Cemetery in Urbandale.

She grew up on Des Moines’ north side, and attended Woodside Junior High and Lincoln High School. She attended the Southtown Pentecostal Church.

She married Kenneth Lee Schofield August 7, 1969, and the couple resided on Des Moines’ south side. They later divorced.

Diane’s survivors included a daughter, Shawna Marie of Des Moines; her mother, Mrs. Marie Dalton of Des Moines; her father, Kenneth Dalton of Des Moines; two brothers, Robert and Martin, both of Des Moines; a half brother, Kenneth Valadez of Des Moines; and a sister, Twyla Dalton of Des Moines.

Memorial services were held at 3 p.m. Monday, July 14, 1975, at Hamilton’s Funeral Home, with burial at McDivitt Grove Cemetery in Urbandale in Polk County.

The top of her gravestone reads “Beloved Mommy.”

Her case remains unsolved.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Diane Schofield’s unsolved murder, please call Det. Matt Towers at (515) 283-4981 or the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864.

Sources:

 

Copyright © 2017 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

9 Responses to Diane Schofield

  1. Twyla johnson. I would like to see if there is any thing I could do to help solve this long unsolved murder? I would like to talk to you

  2. Herb Hunter says:

    PS. Notice the Fourth of July timeframe and how Ames and Des Moines are second cities?

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Penny! :-)

  4. Herb Hunter says:

    I have a few questions:

    1) Were Mrs. Schofiled’s shoes ever found? It was reported she went to the AMCO service station the night of her death to purchase cigarettes and remarked she was going to be late for work. I’m assuming she was wearing shoes at the time. So if her shoes were removed then it was for one of two reasons: a) the killer took them so she wouldn’t run away, or 2) she was killed in her home after she returned home and removed them.

    2) It was reported she was a free-lance masseuse who kept meticulous records of her clients (DMR article 7/15/75). Was the motive of sexual sadism ever run down, and if so, did the detectives interview all of her clients? Ligature strangulation coupled with her hands and feet being bound suggest she was the victim of sexual sadism–the motive the detective said was hard to find.

    3) What time did her shift start at the Foozin’ and Boozin’ Tavern? Since she remarked she was going to be late for work at 9:15 when she bought the cigarettes, one might conclude she was in the midst of other things at the time — assuming her shift started at 9:30pm — and perhaps she bought those cigarettes for a post coital smoke because her and/or her client were out of smokes? Did Mrs. Schofield smoke?

    4) Were the towels/terrycloth/twine ever linked to any particular place? Terrycloth towels are often found in bars. Twine is often found in trunks. And in the initial reports in the Des Monies Register, it was reported that (at first) her hands and feet were bound with terrycloth towels (“Seek motive in slaying of D.M. Woman.” Des Moines Register. Saturday, July 12, 1975).

    5) Did the unnamed suspect (in the DMR article of 5/23/15) have a history of sexual assault?

    Any information you could give would me most helpful in efforts to narrow down the suspect. . .

  5. Are the people that gave statements reliable? One bothers me a little

  6. Praying for answers to come forth to solve this case. May she rest in peace. Godbless

  7. Ginger Purgason says:

    This case needs to be re opened. Her sister has new information and new names associated with this case. Diane and her family deserves some peace of mind and 40 years is far too long to wait. If anyone more information about Diane or her murder please come forward. Justice For Diane!!!!

  8. How is this investigation coming along? Is anyone working on this? It's been 40 years! I'd be very interested in getting this case solved and someone facing accountability for taking the life of this young girl. Diane was a real person with a real family that has lived in the pain of not having her murder solved or actively investigated for way too long!

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