Humboldt County in Iowa
Humboldt County in Iowa
Humboldt in Humboldt CountyHumboldt in Humboldt County

Douglas Alan Nielsen


Douglas Alan Nielsen
17 YOA
1409 Elmhurst Ave.
Humboldt, IA
Humboldt County
Case # 74-00512
October 18, 1974
Case summary by Jody Ewing

In the early morning hours on Friday, October 18, 1974, Douglas A. Nielsen was shot and killed during a house party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Garrison in Humboldt, Iowa. Nielsen, 17, was shot in the kidney area of the lower back with a .22-caliber firearm.

Nielsen’s body was found at approximately 1 a.m. in the Garrison’s basement game room, where investigators said they also seized several other weapons.

Courtesy Carroll Daily Times Herald, Dec. 31, 1974

Courtesy Carroll Daily Times Herald, December 31, 1974

The Garrisons were vacationing in Wyoming at the time, and the party — attended by some 30 high school and post-high school youths from the Humboldt area — was hosted by the Garrison’s son, Larry Eugene Garrison, 22. Larry Garrison, married and the father of two children, lived in rural Livermore. His father was a Humboldt auto dealer.

Humboldt County Attorney Richard A. Williams said authorities had interviewed about 30 young persons who attended the party, and that state Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) investigators were trying to determine how Nielsen was shot.

BCI Deputy Director Tom Hopewell said three BCI agents and a lab crew joined county and local Humboldt officials to investigate the death, which the BCI treated early on as a possible homicide.

Grand Jury: “We are appalled …”

After a month-long investigation by Iowa BCI and city and county authorities, a grand jury was empanelled November 25, 1974, to hear evidence in the case.

In December 1974, the Humboldt County grand jury indicted Larry Eugene Garrison, 22, of rural Livermore, on an open charge of murder in connection with Nielsen’s death. Garrison was arraigned before Humboldt County District Court Judge Jack Hill and released after posting ten percent of the $20,000 bond.

On February 19, 1975, County Attorney Williams asked that the murder charge against Garrison be dismissed because of insufficient evidence and because two polygraph examinations showed Garrison “had not committed the crime and had no knowledge of what might have occurred” at his parents’ home where he’d thrown the party and where Nielsen had been killed.

Judge Newt Draheim of Clarion granted Williams’ motion and dismissed the murder charge against Garrison.

Courtesy The Humboldt Republican, Feb. 19, 1975

Courtesy The Humboldt Republican, Feb. 19, 1975
Download PDF Page One | Download PDF Article, Cont’d

On March 10, 1975, the Humboldt County grand jury began an investigation of what it called “gross inequities” in the administration of justice in the county. County Attorney Richard Williams, 33, was one of the two officials being investigated.

In a press statement, the grand jury stated, “We are aware of the many arrests made by our sheriff’s office and our police department and applaud them,” and then went on to say, “We are appalled at the apparent easy route to dismissal of the charges in almost every case. We believe that many of the dismissals are questionable and we want to know why.”

Williams acknowledged in his own press release that one of the matters he knew the grand jury planned to investigate included “the infamous” dismissal of Larry Garrison’s case in the Douglas Nielsen murder.

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Nielsen’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.

About Douglas Nielsen

Douglas Alan Nielsen was born in Humboldt, Iowa, on June 13, 1957, to Jennings W. and Dorothy Mae (Hansen) Nielsen, and lived in Humboldt all his life. He was a member of the senior class at Humboldt Community High School and served as class secretary. He was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings W. Nielsen, one brother, Jon; two sisters, Mrs. Larry (Mary Jane) Tinken and Mrs. Tony (Kathy) Herold; and a grandfather, Arthur Hanson of Humboldt.

Douglas Nielsen's gravestoneCourtesy photo Robbie Decker,
Douglas Nielsen is buried at Union Cemetery in Humboldt County.

Funeral services were held the Monday after the murder in Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church with the Pastor Paul Otto and Pastor G. D. A. Engelhardt officiating. Burial was at Union Cemetery.

Honorary casket bearers were Tom Reimers, Larry Smith, Wally Garrison, Bruce Hundertmark, Rodney Harklau, Tim Tinken, Steve Gregory and Rocky Greene. Active casket bearers were Lance Tinken, Dennis Beebe, Dennis Smith, Dan Beebe, Larry Kirchoff and Jim Nielsen.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Douglas Nielsen’s unsolved murder please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or e-mail

  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, former Cold Case Unit, April 6, 2010
  • Douglas Alan Nielsen (1957 – 1974) – Find A Grave Memorial
  • Person Details for Jennings W. Nielsen, “United States Social Security Death Index” —
  • Douglas Alan Nielsen,
  • Douglas Alan Nielsen, Profiles and Historical Records,
  • Remembering a Life — Dorothy Mae Nielsen,
  • “Investigates inequities of justice,” The Oelwein Daily Register, March 31, 1975
  • “Jury in Probe of 2 Officials,” Des Moines Register, March 11, 1975
  • “Rural Livermore Man is Indicted, Murder Charge,” Kossuth County Advance, Jan. 6, 1975
  • “Indicted in Slaying Case,” Carroll Daily Times Herald, Dec. 31, 1974
  • “Grand Jury Probes Slaying,” Carroll Daily Times Herald, Nov. 21, 1974
  • “Death of teen being probed,” Muscatine Journal, Nov. 21, 1974
  • “Hold services for Douglas Nielsen,” Humboldt Republican, Oct. 23, 1974
  • “Expect decision Wednesday on death of Humboldt youth,” Ames Daily Tribune, Oct. 22, 1974
  • “Possible homicide,” Muscatine Journal, Oct. 22, 1974
Copyright © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


14 Responses to Douglas Nielsen

  1. LakeLife says:

    Praying for justice!

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    They were protecting their friends. That’s more important then standing up and telling the truth. We then have the local police involved in covering for the guilty parties. I would be suing the Garrison family and their son for the wrongful death of Douglas.

    I like that Larry’s parents should crucified their son, for having the party and the fact that someone died in their house from being shot. I would be ashamed and do anything possible for the family

  3. How sad! 30 people at that party, and not one with enough compassion and a concience to just speak up.

  4. Wow what a horrendous injustice.

  5. Marj Bensley says:

    I have repeatedly told authorities who did this…corruption goes all the way up….

  6. judykay119 says:

    That’s sad, seems like a lot of these cases happened in the 70’sbefore all the DNA stuff was available…so sorry for the family

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts