© 2005 – 2018
Iowa Cold Cases
All Rights Reserved
If you'd like to reprint a post or case summary, please contact us with the name of the requested post/article. Thank you in advance!
Seventy-three-year-old Felicitas Terrill was found dead in her Muscatine, Iowa home Monday morning, April 14, 1986, with four gunshot wounds to the head.
Sharon Renfro — the victim’s daughter — said when she tried to contact her mother and couldn’t reach her, she called police and asked them to do a welfare check.
Muscatine Police Department officers went to the house around 7 a.m. Monday, and said Terrill had lain in her home for several hours before her body was discovered.
There were signs of an intruder and the motive appeared to be burglary.
[Then] Muscatine Police Chief Jerome Tesmond told the Cedar Rapids Gazette Tuesday that his department was investigating several leads, but had not made any arrests. He said Terrill was not sexually assaulted.
Tesmond said evidence seemed to suggest “someone forced his or her way into Terrill’s house over the weekend,” according to a Gazette article published Wednesday, April 16, 1986. Tesmond said Terrill lived alone and was last seen Saturday morning, April 12, 1986.
Neighbors described Terrill as “a sweet, little, old, church-going lady,” and Tesmond said her house was extremely tidy both inside and out.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Felicitas Terrill’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 forensic 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.
Felicitas Margaret (Daniel) Terrill was born August 4, 1912, in Columbus Junction, Iowa, to Frank and Johanna (Furlong) Daniel. She had lived in Muscatine for most of her life and was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
She married Robert W. Terrill on June 8, 1940, in Muscatine, and the couple had one daughter, Sharon.
Services were held Thursday, April 17, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with Rev. Walter Helms officiating. The organist was Beverly Weber; vocalist was Mary Lee Longhurst.
Pallbearers were Floyd Terrill, John Verink, Herman Boche, William Koepping, Carlton Beckman and Charles “Bud” Swick. Honorary pallbearers were Robert Humphrey, Ralph Terrill, Richard Martin and Fritz Gaertner.
Felicitas was laid to rest in Memorial Park Cemetery in Muscatine.
Her survivors included a daughter, Sharon Renfro of Muscatine; one grandson, Jeff Renfro; one brother, John Francis (Frank) Daniel of Columbus Junction; two sisters, Mary Duncan of Washington and Cecelia Smith of Emmetsburg.
She was preceded in death by her husband in 1977, and two brothers, Leo Daniel and Joseph Daniel.
NOTE: Felicitas Margaret (Daniel) Terrill’s only daughter, Sharon K. (Terrill Renfro) Abdullah, formerly of Muscatine, died in Westerville, Ohio, on March 26, 2003. She was 55 years old, and also laid to rest at Muscatine’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
A funeral tribute website noted that Sharon’s survivors included: her husband, Shukri Abdullah; a son, Jeff Renfro and his wife, Reynea, of Fruitland; grandchildren, Kayla Rae and Kelsey Rose Renfro, both of New Boston, Ill.
A findagrave.com tribute also stated Sharon Renfro was preceded in death by her first husband, Tommy Renfro; and her parents, Robert and Philistis Daniels Terrill. (It is unknown why the decedent’s mother’s first name and maiden name are spelled differently than in other reports.)
Separate records show that Felicitas Terrill’s 13-year-old great-granddaughter, Kelsey Rose Renfro, passed away Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008, at her New Boston, Ill. home.
If you have any information regarding Felicitas Terrill’s unsolved murder please contact Sgt. Mike Bailey at the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office at 563-263-6055 or Detective Mark Lawrence of the Muscatine Police Department at 563-263-9922.