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Eric Scott Redinbo, 18, died Friday night, February 12, 1999, from a single blast to the head from a 12 gauge shotgun at a Keokuk, Iowa home.
Officers said they were called to Susan Anderson’s house on Keokuk’s west side around 8:40 p.m. Friday, where they found Redinbo’s body. Police said the 12 gauge had accidentally gone off inside the home, hitting Redinbo once in the head.
They ruled his death an accident.
Barely two days later, Dolores “Toni” Hornung, 48, died early Sunday morning — Valentine’s Day — from a single shot fired from a 30-30 rifle.
The two homes, less than 100 feet apart, had adjacent back yards.
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 that same Monday.
In an Estherville Daily News article published February 18, 1999, an investigator called the two shooting deaths a “suspicious coincidence.”
Keokuk Police Chief George Morgan said it appeared Redinbo may have been handling the gun in an attempt to unload it when it discharged.
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 deaths 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 the Feb. 18 article. “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 his 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.
“She 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.
Eric Scott Redinbo was born August 21, 1980 in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, the son of Kerry Dale Foust and Carolyn Hardesty Robinson.
He was a longtime Keokuk resident, and formerly worked for CHMI of Keokuk.
Survivors included his parents of Aberdeen, Ohio; two sisters, Robin Remley and Bambi Nichols Redinbo, both of Aberdeen; stepfather, George Joseph Hardesty, and many other loving family members.
Greaves Mortuary in Keokuk handled arrangements, and Eric was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery in Keokuk in Lee County.
If you have any information regarding Eric Redinbo’s suspicious death, please contact the Keokuk Police Department at (319) 524-3131 or the Iowa DCI at (515) 725-6010.