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On Monday, January 8, 1996, Donna Lee Marshall, 37, was found by her fiancé and daughter in her southeast side Iowa City mobile home with a gunshot wound to the head. She died the following day.
Donna’s 7-year-old daughter Tiffany discovered her mother lying on the living room floor of their trailer around 3 p.m. She ran outside to tell Donna’s boyfriend, Donald Matthess, who had just picked up Tiffany from school. Donald and Tiffany notified authorities.
According to documents filed with the Johnson County clerk of court, a search of the mobile home — located at Lot 99 in the Bon-Aire Mobile Home Lodge — yielded mostly prescription drugs and paperwork pertaining to child custody. Authorities searched both the mobile home and two cars that were parked there.
Investigators also took some child custody documents addressed to Marshall and letters from the state child support recovery unit addressed to Matthess.
When Marshall divorced Scott Sweeting in 1989, Marshall was awarded custody of Tiffany. Sweeting was granted visitation rights, but divorce proceedings on file with the clerk of court showed Sweeting petitioned the court in 1992 to grant full custody to him. No final ruling had been made at the time of Marshall’s murder.
According to a list released by the state Department of Human Services on March 15, 1994, Matthess was delinquent on child support payments. The list did not specify to whom the payments were due or for how many children. (Cedar Rapids Gazette, Jan. 19, 1996)
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Donna Marshall’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.
Donna Lee Marshall was born August 23, 1958.
Memorial services were held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 13, 1996, at George L. Gay Funeral Home with the Rev. Leslie Swenson officiating. Burial was in Memory Gardens Cemetery in Iowa City.
Survivors included her daughter, Tiffany Sweeting; and her father, Bernard “Bud” Alvin Marshall and wife Lottie of Iowa City.
Following Marshall’s murder, Tiffany went to stay with her father, Donna’s ex-husband, Scott Sweeting.
Marshall’s parents would never see their daughter’s killer brought to justice. Bernard Marshall passed away in 2003, and Lottie died in 2010.
If you have any information about Donna Lee Marshall’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa City Police Department at (319) 356-5275 or email the Investigations Division at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email email@example.com.