Douglas “DJ” Shondel II (Courtesy Deena Shondel)

Douglas James “DJ” Shondel II

Undetermined (Suspicious Death)

Douglas James Shondel II
21 YOA
100 N. 16th St.
Fairfield, Iowa
Jefferson County
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma to Head and Broken Neck
Sunday, March 11, 2001


Many things don’t add up in 21-year-old Douglas James Shondel II’s mysterious March 2001 death.

Jefferson County in Iowa
Jefferson County in Iowa
Fairfield in Jefferson CountyFairfield in Jefferson County

Shondel’s pregnant girlfriend, Crystal Knight, told officials on Sunday, March 11, 2001, that she’d found him unresponsive in the bathtub of the couple’s 100 N. 16th St. apartment in Fairfield, Iowa, the water still running from the shower.

Rather than ask to use the next-door neighbor’s telephone to call 911, Knight walked one and one-half blocks to gather some of the couple’s friends, who returned to the 16th Street apartment with her to allegedly clean everything before anyone called EMTs.

First responders said things seemed “strangely out-of-place” and “didn’t coincide with stories provided to them by Knight and Shondel’s friends.”

Douglas “DJ” Shondel II (Courtesy Deena Shondel)

Medics transferred Shondel to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where Shondel was pronounced dead on arrival.

The medical examiner ruled “cause of death” as blunt force trauma (to the head), and ruptured vertebrae in the upper cervical spine (a broken neck).

Toxicology reports indicated Shondel had a small amount of marijuana in his system, but the medical examiner said no drugs of any kind played any role in Shondel’s death.

Shondel’s “manner of death,” however, is classified as “Undetermined.”

Neighbors knew of ongoing feud

Neighbors told the media they were well aware of some type of ongoing feud between the couple who lived in the upstairs apartment and the people who lived just down the block … the same people Ms. Knight brought back to the apartment about two hours before medics arrived.

Just 10 days before his death, Shondel sustained other injuries while visiting the alleged “friends,” said one neighbor who knew the couple.

Douglas Shondel with cousins

Douglas Shondel (in red and gray clothing) with his cousins in an undated photo. (Courtesy photo Facebook)

One witness told police that earlier on Sunday — the day Shondel died — he’d seen some men carrying Shondel’s body up the apartment stairs. “Blood ran freely from the victim’s ears,” the witness said, though he didn’t know if Shondel was already deceased at that time.

Police searched the couple’s Fairfield apartment, but those questioned by police gave conflicting versions of what happened in the hours before medics received the call for help. Additionally, someone had clearly destroyed or taken critical evidence that should have still been present at the scene given the method and circumstances under which the decedent died.

Police and family members had many concerns and more questions than answers. Some of those concerns include:

  • When Shondel arrived at University Hospitals in Iowa City, he had mud caked all over his legs.
  • Investigators found none of the victim’s clothing, muddy or otherwise, in the apartment’s bathroom.
  • None of the victim’s clothing could be found in the hallway leading to the bathroom.
  • No muddy clothing belonging to the victim could be located anywhere in the couple’s bedroom.
  • The injuries the victim sustained could not have been caused by a fall in the bathtub.
  • Given the nature of the fatal injuries, the victim could not voluntarily have climbed into the bathtub.

Some of the questions include:

  • If Shondel arrived home on his own and climbed into the bathtub for a shower, what had become of his discarded muddy clothing?
  • If he’d been found naked in the bathtub with the shower running, why hadn’t the water washed at least some of the mud from his body and/or legs? (Hospital reports indicate the mud was still “caked” on his body.)
  • Did investigators take any soil samples from the dried mud on Shondel’s body — either before or after the decedent’s transportation to University Hospitals?
  • Were shoes ever collected from anyone present at the scene for soil sample comparison tests?

Shortly after arriving at University Hospitals, an emergency room nurse asked Knight — a certified nursing aid — whether she’d attempted to perform CPR; Knight allegedly responded she didn’t know how to do it.

According to reports from individuals close to the couple (names on file and available to investigating agencies), Knight did not want the child she carried and allegedly “had people punch her in the stomach” after Shondel’s death.

Less than two weeks after Shondel’s suspected homicide, Knight gave birth to a stillborn infant — a baby boy.

A Fairfield Ledger article dated Monday, March 26, 2001, provided the infant’s obituary:

Damen Michael SHONDEL

Damen Michael SHONDEL, still-born infant of Crystal KNIGHT and Douglas James SHONDEL, died Thursday, March 22, 2001, at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City.

Graveside services were held at 1 p.m. today at the Evergreen Cemetery in Fairfield.

Raymond Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

He is survived by his mother, Crystal KNIGHT; one brother, Kameron KNIGHT; maternal grandmother, Penny ROCKWELL; paternal grandfather, Douglas J. SHONDEL, all of Fairfield; and his paternal grandmother, Pamela Sue COTO of Lincoln, Neb.

He was preceded in death by his father March 11, 2001.

~ Fairfield Ledger, Monday, March 26, 2001

The infant was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Fairfield.

About Douglas “DJ” Shondel II
douglas-shondel-gravestoneCourtesy photo Richard K. Thompson,
Douglas James Shondel is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Fairfield.

Douglas James “DJ” Shondel, II, was born April 30, 1979, to Douglas and Pamela Shondel.

He died from a broken neck and blunt force head trauma injuries sustained on Sunday, March 11, 2001.

In addition to his parents, survivors included two siblings, Deena and Josh.

Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 15 at Raymond Funeral Home.

Douglas Shondel was laid to rest at the Evergreen Cemetery in Fairfield about a month before his 22nd birthday.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Douglas Shondel’s suspected homicide, please contact the Fairfield Police Department at (641) 472-4146.


23 Responses to Douglas Shondel

  1. unknown says:

    I litteraly heard her tell me with her own voice her two lips they were at a get togather in a back yard got to argueing she hit nhim with a gallon glass alchol container then that’s when she stopped talking and would talk about it to me ever again

  2. shawn says:

    its simple,fairfield police did not do thier job sufficiently.lots of evidence points directly to the culprit.a little kid could solve this case.shame on you.jefferson county p.d..JUSTICE FOR D.J. NEEDS TO BE GIVEN.

  3. shawn says:

    is it me or do we have the worst police in the history of police.if someone didnt even report the situation for two hours and had others come help (clean up) and neighbor saw crystal and other men carrying his body upstairs with blood coming out his ears ,i think the answer is there was no clothes found.i think a 5 year old could solve this case.the fairfield police dept. dropped the ball big time on this.i myself have recently contacted the internal affairs and a lawyer to make sure justice is served and the police and crystal knight answer for thier actions.pam and doug deserve better than that and so do we d.j.s family members.i love you d.j. and misss you so much.

    • Sheila R Schaffer says:

      I agree with you 100% Sean they botched my daughters investigation up left a lot of evidence untouched never even checked it I’m not real happy with them right now Fairfield police my daughter was the one that was killed and laid on the railroad tracks on Easter

  4. Jodi K Shondel says:

    I first hand seen how crystal behaved while at the hospital. How she claimed to not know CPR. It would have been different too say you didn’t do it because you was scared BUT that’s not what she said. Crystal also told my best friend it was ok if we lost dj because “we would have another little dj running around” who says that while your baby’s father is dying???? Crystal may have not killed him but she sure as h*ll didn’t save him. She knows a.lot more then she claims. Best believe I see karma playing out every time I see crystal.

  5. Melanie Wood says:

    I believe the evidence speaks for itself and the people or person involved.

  6. Teresa Brinkmeier says:

    I can’t believe nobody got charged with tamper with evidence.
    Is it just me or does it seem like when someone dies in this town they never get evidence to charge someone with murder?

  7. Sheila says:

    This is on Iowa Cold Case. No Individual wrote this. The info came from police

  8. Penny says:

    Yeah well then let the truth be known.

    • Debts McClure says:

      This is so sad to have on here, a Mother (Crystal) lost thers baby, A BABY DIED, A nother mother lost her son, The Fairfield PD failed to put this case together, the truth is the truth, right now only God knows, Seems like a lot of people still hurt that’s understandable. But if you police don’t know what happened all these years later then how do those that think they know, were you there? Did you see things you didn’t tell police, if not it all people’s opinions, if he was my son I would want answers, if she was my daughter and grandbaby. I would need prays.God bless the Mothers that have lost so much.

  9. Penny says:

    We are getting the medical records from Iowa City to post that chrystal had only carried the baby for 4 months. the baby died because of stress. From DJs death. You better get the people who came forward and said chrystal had people punch her in the stomach, Because there is going to be a law suit. And i just left the Fairfield police department and the address you posted where all this stuff was suppose to of happened is non existant. My daughter buried her boyfriend and her son all in one week. Dana Bowermaster told me she pushed him out of her house because he was swinging a whisky bottle around and almost hit her daughter in the head with it. And that he hit the back of his head.Her daughter was crying and said mom please go check on him. Now if a 5 year old thinks somethings wrong. Then theres a good chance there is. 10 days later he died. From trauma to the back of his head. Leave my daughter alone shes been threw enough.

  10. Penny says:

    Who ever wrote all this trash is in serious trouble. The fairfield police said if another person brings this up again they were goung to jail. There are so many lies on here. Chrystal was 4 months pregnant when she lost the baby. She lost it because of the trauma of losing DJ.. then to say she had someone punch her in the stomach repeatedly. Your a bunch of sick individuals. Yeah lets open up the case again. And lets find out the real culprit.

    • andrea says:

      You are seriously absurd. You claim that “The fairfield (sic) police said if another person brings this up again they were goung (sic) to jail.” Apparently you are too stooooopid to have ever heard of the First Amendment. I doubt very much that the Fairfield police said any such thing.

      Since you have clearly lied about the Fairfield police, why should anyone believe anything else you have to say?

  11. Donna Moore says:

    This case was handled so poorly which doesn’t surprise me in this town but this victim and his family deserve answers and justice for this crime yes I said crime. I truly hope that someone follows through with this.

    • Teresa Brinkmeier says:

      Why wasn’t anyone ever charged with tampering with evidence.
      it seems to me when there’s murders in Fairfield they never get solved because the cops aren’t capable of doing the fingerprints collecting evidence seems like they need to get a new group of people in the police department to do that .

      • Amayha grant says:

        I’m saying this now it doesnt take a ROCKET SCIENTIST to see that he was murdered and clearly HIS GF had something to do with it. Its horrible to think peices of trash like his killers and accomplice are out here living life while his was taken. She probably lost the baby because sbes a meth junkie. I hope and pray they all get what’s coming to them especially since John Walsh is now investigating! I feel justice is coming for a few people.

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