Lee County
Lee County in Iowa
Keokuk in Lee County Keokuk in Lee County

Dolores Antonia “Toni” Martinez Hornung

Homicide

Dolores Antonia “Toni” Martinez Hornung
48 YOA
DCI Case # 99-01605
Keokuk, IA
Lee County
February 14, 1999

 
Dolores A. “Toni” (Martinez) Hornung, 48, was shot to death in her Keokuk, Iowa home with a 30-30 rifle early Sunday morning on Valentine’s Day, 1999.

Dolores Hornung

Dolores Hornung

Hornung’s daughter called emergency officials about 5:25 p.m. saying she could not wake her mother, police said in a statement released Monday, February 15, 1999. Investigators determined Hornung hadn’t died of natural causes and scheduled an autopsy for the following day.

Two days earlier, Eric Redinbo, 18, was killed in an adjacent home by a 12-gauge shotgun blast to the head.

Keokuk Police Chief George Morgan said it appeared Redinbo may have been handling the gun in an attempt to unload it when it discharged.

Eric Redinbo

Eric Redinbo

While police ruled Redinbo’s shooting an accident, they investigated Hornung’s death as a homicide. The proximity of the two deaths, however, left officials wondering if the cases might be connected.

“I think everyone has tossed that around a lot and so far we’re not coming up with anything,” Lee County Attorney Mike Short said in an Estherville Daily News article published Feb. 18, 1999. “It is a suspicious coincidence, because of the lack of information authorities have.”

A bullet was recovered from Hornung’s head during her autopsy.

Hornung’s boyfriend, Lewis Ray Greer, 33, of Bonaparte, Iowa, was later arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her death, but acquitted by a Lee County jury after a four-day trial. Jurors refused to consider lesser charges, and Greer left the courtroom a free man.

Police never recovered the rifle used in Hornung’s slaying.

Redinbo’s mother, Carolyn Redinbo Robinson, said there’s no doubt in her mind that the cases are connected and that the same person killed both her son and Hornung. She said she never once believed her son’s death was an accident or a suicide.

“So many things do not make sense,” Robinson told Iowa Cold Cases on April 13, 2015. “The Keokuk Police Department would not let our family identify [Eric’s] body either, so we have never had closure in this case.”

Becky White Feather Riney, who said she was the last person to talk to Hornung, said Hornung called her on the 12th regarding the supposed “accidental shooting” of Eric Redinbo around the corner. Specific details surrounding that alleged accidental suicide had been brought to Hornung’s attention by someone living in the same house where Redinbo was shot, Riney said.

“[Toni] went to the Keokuk police about it. But, she also talked with many loved ones about it too, including me,” Riney said. “She was murdered the very next day.”

Riney said when the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) came to Keokuk to talk with them, she told them there was no way they could ever convince her that her friend’s death wasn’t related to what happened just around the corner with Redinbo.

Hornung’s daughter, Jessica Raleigh, said she also believes her mother’s murder and Redinbo’s death are somehow linked. She said she just hopes to find out who did it.

“All I ask is if anyone knows anything, even the littlest thing, to come forward…” Jessica wrote in a Feb. 11, 2012 post to Iowa Cold Cases.

Both families continue to wait for answers, and no one has ever been held accountable in either murder.

When the DCI established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Hornung’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.


Courtesy photo Cedar Rapids Gazette
This short clip was published in the Gazette on May 5, 1999.

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 the resolution of 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.

The following article about Toni Hornung was published in the Daily Gate City on the 13th anniversary of her death.


From Daily Gate City

Feb. 14 Heartbreaking for Family

By Cindy Iutzi, Daily Gate City Staff Writer
Published in the Daily Gate City on Feb. 14, 2012

When Dolores (Toni Martinez) Hornung, 48, of Keokuk was found murdered on Feb. 14, 1999, in her Keokuk home, it changed Valentine’s Day forever for her loved ones.

“I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Hornung’s mother Alice Brown on Monday. “Someone, something took her from me.”

Every year around her daughter’s birthday, Brown honors her daughter with a photo in the Daily Gate City. She or another family member calls the Keokuk Police Department to see if they’ve come up with anything new that might lead to the arrest and conviction of Hornung’s murderer.

“Things get softer after the years go by,” Brown said. “But I always hope they’ll find out why and who before I die.”

The Keokuk Police Department and Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations investigated Hornung’s death and subsequently arrested Lewis Greer of Bonaparte for the killing. However, after a four-day trial in the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk, a jury acquitted Greer of Hornung’s murder, refusing to consider lesser charges. Greer was released and walked out of the courtroom a free man.

The weapon used for the murder was determined to be a 30-30 rifle, but it was never found. Investigators followed every lead, but never could find any witnesses.

“We did everything we could,” said Keokuk Police Chief Tom Crew. “The DCI was the lead agency. We used all the information we could find, but the courts acquitted (Greer). It’s always frustrating for the police department and the family. We always go at these cases 110 percent to bring people to justice. But in this case, we were at the mercy of the court. The conclusion (juries) come to sometimes baffle us. It leaves us with a heavy feeling.

“We understand the family is frustrated. They want some closure through a conviction. If it was your loved one, nothing would be enough. There’s never going to be enough. I have the utmost empathy for the family and their loss over the years.”

The case remains open at the Keokuk Police Department and at a non-profit organization called Iowa Cold Cases Inc. at iowacoldcases.org.

For a while, the Hornung case also was part of the DCI’s Cold Case Unit in Des Moines, but the unit recently was defunded.

The cold case unit was created in 2008 but never was funded by the state, instead receiving funds from the federal government. Two full-time investigators and a lab tech initially were assigned to the unit. However, in 2010 the federal Community Orientated Policing Services grant funding was cut leading to manpower reduction in the unit. In the summer of 2011, the funding ran out. The unit was disbanded in the fall of 2011.

“The Cold Case Unit was DNA-driven,” said Bill Kitsman, DCI special agent in charge. “What we do now is look at cold cases from time to time when we get leads such as crime stoppers leads. We always look at those.”

A parallel but civilian-driven non-profit organization, Iowa Cold Cases, Inc., has “case summaries, articles and updates for all Iowa open homicides and missing persons cases where foul play is suspected, according to its website at iowacoldcases.org.” The organization started up in 2005 with a “mission … to educate the public about these open cases, share and exchange resources in efforts to publicize these unsolved crimes, and ensure every victim’s story is told and kept alive until those responsible are held accountable.”

The organization was created by Jody Ewing of Sioux City when she discovered that the State of Iowa had no centralized online database listing victims’ names and case details.

In January, Ewing wrote on the website: “Somebody knows something. They always do. Yet, people still fear coming forward with what they know, even when they realize it could very well help solve an unsolved murder. Did you ever wonder why they remain silent?

“We asked our readers last May, and the answers might surprise you. Our poll results, based on the options provided:

  • 29 percent said they personally know the killer and fear retaliation.
  • 27 percent said they believe there’s no such thing as an “anonymous tip.”
  • 17 percent said they fear their own dark background might be exposed if they contact authorities.
  • 17 percent also said they were somehow involved in committing the crime and/or covering it up.
  • 9 percent chose “Other,” saying they don’t want to be labeled as a snitch; they are not sure if the information they have is true, and only suspect it; all of the above; all of the above plus apathy; and that they can’t remember.
  • 2 percent said they honestly don’t care about the murder victims or whether the cases get solved.

In June 2011, the website ran another poll question: If 100 percent anonymity were guaranteed, would you be willing to let Iowa Cold Cases serve as a liaison between you and the police?

Of the responses, 95 percent said yes and 5 percent said no. The website guarantees anonymity.

“Remind yourself that every single night, someone’s mother or father or sister or brother or husband or wife or child goes to bed wondering about the last moments of his or her loved one’s life,” Ewing wrote. “Think back: Do you have knowledge about something — perhaps one small detail about the crime never reported in the papers, never mentioned on TV? Did you hear someone give conflicting accounts of his/her whereabouts that day/night? Do you have reason to believe … reason to suspect … something you’d rather forget?”

In addition to Hornung, Keokuk has been the scene of four unsolved murders since 1904.

John Murphy, age unknown, of North Sixth and Concert streets, was shot on the morning of Nov. 27, 1904, by an unknown man at his corner while his way to work. According to the site, he planned on attending church after work. The shooting appeared unprovoked.

Earl Paris, 31, a night watchman at Iowa Fiber Box Company in Keokuk, was shot on Feb. 18, 1928, while on duty.

Richard Buchanan and Willard Charles Woodring were killed Oct. 9, 1960, in Keokuk. Woodring, 42, “was owner and operator of a house of prostitution, commonly referred to as the Hawkeye Hotel, according to the website. Buchanan, 49, was a customer. The men were shot and killed during a robbery by a young male gunman in a black leather jacket who was accompanied by a young red head in a lavender dress, according to website notes.

Call the Keokuk Police Department at 524-2741 to get more information about how to share information regarding a cold case.

Copyright © 2012 Daily Gate City. All rights reserved.


About Toni Martinez Hornung

Dolores A. “Toni” Martinez was born December 12, 1950, in Portland, Maine, to Pete Jr. and Alice A. Olvis Martinez. She had been a resident of Portland from 1970–1975.

Toni was a seamstress and noted for her quilts and beadwork.

dolores-toni-martinez-hornung-gravestoneCourtesy photo Karen and John P., findagrave.com
Dolores “Toni” Martinez Hornung is buried at the Oakland Cemetery in Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa.

While living in Portland, she was a member of the Thunderbird Society, the Nauvoo Ward of the Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She died Feb. 14, 1999, the result of a shooting, and was laid to rest in the Oakland Cemetery in Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa.

She was survived by a son and daughter and many other relatives and close friends.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Dolores “Toni” Hornung’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us, or contact the Keokuk Police Department at 319-524-2741 or the Lee County Attorney’s Office at 319-524-9590.

Sources:

 

27 Responses to Dolores Hornung

  1. Mike says:

    I grew up with Toni and know her family very well. This case was botched right from the get go by the Keokuk Police Department. There was another shooting that same day at the next door neighbors house and a young boy was killed. The police refused to believe that the cases might be connected to each other. They just assumed that Toni’s boyfriend must have killed her and set out to prove it. They had NO EVIDENCE against her boyfriend and he was found not guilty of her murder. As far as the police were concerned, Toni was just a dirty Mexican hippie whose life was worthless. Well, to her family & friends her life was NOT worthless, she was loved by everyone that knew her. Her case should be reopened and the real killer should be tried and convicted and sent to prison!

  2. nicole says:

    Thank you Mike for saying that I am Rob’s daughter. Toni’s brother and she is very loved and missed everyday. We are trying to think of things to do to bring new light to this case. I was thinking of handing out flyers outside of super wal-mart in keokuk the sunday before v-day. The truth is someone knows what happened and we deserve to know what happened. We will not stop untill the truth is found. Also if you send me your email I can send you a picture and I can send pictures for this websight as well.

  3. jessica raleigh says:

    I am Toni’s daughter and it has been very hard living without my mother, and the fact that we have no answers about her murder makes it that much harder, not only for me but my family as well.

    I also believe that her murder and the young man’s death are linked. I just hope that we will find out who did this.

    She was a great woman, mother, daughter, sister, friend, cousin and so much more and was loved by so many people. All I ask is if anyone knows anything, even the littlest thing, to come forward because it may help solve this case.

  4. Amanda Diveney says:

    Toni or “Aunt Toni” to me was a fun amazingly creative person and a very loving mother and Aunt…i miss her big smiles and booming laugh.Jess you are right something should be done as to all the unanswered questions. You of all deserve the truth as to why your mother was murdered. Rest in Peace Aunt Toni you are not forgotten.god bless

  5. Becky White Feather Riney says:

    Mike you were right, the Keokuk Police did botch their investigation. Much was done wrong, and they wanted to just try to get “us” the family & extended family to shut up & leave them alone. According to DCI, and telephone records, I was the last person to talk to Toni. Living in Des Moines at the time, she called me talking about the supposed “accidental shooting” of Eric around the corner. It was on the 12th, that he was shot. Specific details surrounding that “supposed” accidental suicide were brought to Toni’s attention by someone living in the same house where he was shot, and she went to the Keokuk Police about it. But… she also talked with many loved ones about it too, including me. She was murdered the very next day. I told DCI when I came to Keokuk to talk with them that there was no way they could ever convince me that her death was not related to what happened around the corner. I believe that to this day. Toni was an amazing person. She filled the room with her personality. She was as big as life. I miss her and love her and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish she was here to share things with. Hi Nicole, it’s been a long time. Tell your dad I said hi. Hi Jess love you!

  6. Mike Byrne says:

    I also knew Eric’s family pretty well. My wifes cousin was married to Eric’s mom when Eric was small. I haven’t seen the family to talk to them in years, but I have talked to my wife’s cousin a few times before his death. Joe (my wife’s cousin) didn’t believe the suicide scenario any more than I did. Both of these cases NEED to be reopened and investigated by someone that DID NOT participate in the initial investigations. They need to be looked at with fresh eyes and open minds. Both Toni and Eric deserve nothing less. The truth needs to come out and the actual murder needs to be sent to prison.

  7. Jessica Raleigh says:

    She lived in keokuk Iowa at the time I her death and when she a member of he thunderbird society not Portland

  8. Laura Walker says:

    happy birthday toni i wish you were here to have a partty with you i love you and miss you a loti lay down wishing you was here with us i love you your cousinlaurie walke love you

  9. Mary Roche says:

    Elaina Hornung Kimberly Hornung Weddle Kelly Hornung Are you related to this person?

  10. I dont recall hearing about it…b7t not many Hornungs

  11. Diana Wilson says:

    I hope these are solved.

  12. carrob21 says:

    I hope so too

  13. Mike Byrne says:

    It’s been 18 years and the Keokuk police department has effectively swept these two cases under the rug. As far as the police are concerned these cases are closed. I think that the police chief should assign some NEW officers (who were NOT on the police force at the time of the murders) to reinvestigate these cases. Put some fresh eyes and some new technology to work instead of the old technology of yesteryear. I’m willing to bet that if these two victims were related to the investigaters, we would have seen someone convicted of these of these MURDERS. These two families need closure!!

    • andrea says:

      Keokuk police are a joke. Utterly incompetent and unwilling to do their jobs. I had a tenant shoot up my kitchen in my rental property; I drove to the PD and tried to report this vandalism and they refused to even take the report, let alone send someone out to photograph the vandalism or investigate it.

    • Carolyn Redinbo Robinson says:

      I totally agree mike it was the worse case of investigation I have ever seen in my life. Both of our family’s need closure 18 yrs has. Been long enough,I am Eric Redinbo mother this breaks my heart every day

      • Mike Byrne says:

        Carolyn, I’m so sorry for your loss. Nobody should ever have to bury a child. I know first hand how terrible it is to bury a child. My son Jeremy committed suicide in 2001 and I grieve every day for him. People say to put it behind me, but they don’t know how deep the pain is when you lose a child. You can’t just put it behind you, it doesn’t work that way. It gets easier to hide the pain as the years go by, but that is all you are doing, hiding the pain from others because they don’t understand. Sometimes I wish that this nightmare would end, that i would wake up and find out that it was just a bad dream. It never happens. You just have to be strong and hope & pray that someone, somewhere will find the answers that you need and share them with you. You need closure! If you need to talk, just let me know and I’ll be here for you.

  14. Julie Martineau says:

    I spoke to Toni the morning before she was killed, and NOT ONE cop or investigator has EVER asked me for an interview, ever. Not one.
    She told me that she knew that the shooting next door was a murder, and she knew who did it.
    I’ll never forget that, ever.

  15. carolyn robinson says:

    Yeah I’m Eric Redinbo mother there has been something not right since day one, I think these murders will never be solved and it saddens me so much

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