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Dorothy J. Rose, 43, was found dead in her 206 12th St. SE Cedar Rapids, Iowa apartment on Tuesday night, November 28, 2006.
The building’s landlord — who’d gone to check on Rose — discovered her body and called police.
Inside the apartment, investigators found a decomposing adult female body, an electrical cord still wrapped around her neck.
Officials identified the body as that of 43-year-old Dorothy Rose, a “Wendy’s” restaurant employee for the past eight years.
Linn County Medical Examiner Donald Linder ruled the death a homicide by strangulation.
According to police, Rose had been dead three to four days — placing her time of death as sometime between Friday, November 24, and Saturday, November 25 — though Rose’s obituary lists her date of death as November 28, the same Tuesday night the landlord found her body.
In a KCRG Channel 9 story airing November 29, 2006, neighbors said most days Rose could be found sitting on her porch. Neighbor Vicky Thompson, who believed she was one of the last people to see Rose alive, said she’d seen Rose take her bike out of her apartment and head to Handimart.
“She pretty much stayed home and minded her own business,” Thompson told KCRG. “She was a really nice lady. She really was.”
Though many didn’t even know her name, a number of Wendy’s customers saw her photo in the newspaper and recognized her as the restaurant worker who “always had a smile.” Several of those customers took time to post condolences on the Murdoch Funeral Home website where Rose’s obituary was listed.
Police removed Rose’s bicycle, along with boxes of evidence, from Rose’s apartment, and went door-to-door interviewing neighbors. Thompson was called in for a second interview to answer questions regarding one individual.
Following Rose’s murder, police arrested her former live-in boyfriend, Ronald Alan Perkins, 46, on a warrant for violating a no-contact order in October by contacting Rose.
In September 2006, the (then) 45-year-old Perkins, who’d been residing with Rose at the 12th Street SE apartment since April 2006, was charged with assault causing injury (domestic abuse). He was accused of striking Rose in the mouth about 2 p.m. Wednesday, September 6, in the couple’s residence.
Rose sought a no-contact court order, but Perkins allegedly returned to the home in October and assaulted her again.
Following Rose’s murder and Perkins’ arrest for violating the no-contact order, Lt. Chuck Mincks confirmed officials had one person of interest in custody but were investigating several leads.
Investigators held Perkins at the Linn County Jail for questioning, but released him sometime between late Wednesday, November 28, and Thursday, November 30.
Police asked that anyone with information about Rose’s death or her activities in the days preceding her death to contact police.
In February 2013, KCRG’s Chris Earl spoke with Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman about the difficulty in piecing together the puzzles in both current and unsolved cases.
“In every homicide I have knowledge of, they do not cut corners,” Jerman said of police departments he has worked with throughout his career.
Searching inside each case where an arrest was made, Jerman told KCRG, shows the victim and the assailant almost always had a connection.
Obtaining the needed information, however, is not without its struggles.
“I do see a…resistance… I think is the proper term from people who have information and knowledge to share it with the police,” said Jerman. “I hope they can trust us. They should trust us.”
Neither Perkins nor anyone else has ever been charged with Rose’s murder.
KCRG mentioned other “notable cold cases” in Cedar Rapids since 2000, including:
Dorothy J. Rose was born Friday, December 21, 1962, in Osceola, Iowa. She had worked at the Wendy’s Restaurant on First Avenue in Cedar Rapids for eight years.
Survivors included her sons, Ed Deason and Paul Deason, both of Cedar Rapids; her cats, Ashley, Cupcake, Snuggle, and Ivy; and other loving family members.
Memorial services were held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, December 4, 2006, at Marion Christian Church in Marion with the Rev. Robert Kunz officiating. Arrangements were by Murdoch Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Marion.
A memorial fund was established for her sons, with memorials to be sent to: Collins Community Credit Union, 1755 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. Friends were also encouraged to sign the online guest book for Dorothy at www.murdochfuneralhome.com under “obituaries.”
The Cedar Rapids Police Department currently has two Cold Case Unit volunteer investigators who work exclusively on unsolved homicides. These investigators work closely with other investigators from both the Cedar Rapids Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
The current investigator assigned to the Cold Case Unit is J.D. Smith, a retired Agent for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
If you have any information about Dorothy Rose’s unsolved murder please call the Cold Case Unit at (319) 286-5919 or email Investigator J.D. Smith.