Francis Rafferty

Francis John Rafferty (Courtesy The Des Moines Register)

Francis John Rafferty


Francis J. Rafferty
58 YOA
Dubuque, IA
Dubuque County
DCI Case # 64-00326
February 8, 1964




Dubuque County in Iowa
Dubuque County in Iowa
Dubuque in Dubuque CountyDubuque in Dubuque County

Francis John Rafferty — a 58-year-old millworker — died of asphyxiation after burglars entered his Dubuque, Iowa home Saturday night, Feb. 8, 1964, and taped his mouth shut with electrician’s tape.

Dubuque Police Chief Robert O’Brien said Rafferty was tied up with telephone wire and, because his mouth was covered with tape, apparently choked on food he’d eaten earlier.

Police suspected robbery as the motive; Rafferty previously had kept large sums of money at his home, but several months before his death had deposited the funds into a bank.

Rafferty shared the Dubuque apartment with his younger sister, Gretta Rafferty. She discovered her brother’s body after returning home later that evening.

The Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richard Strasburg, Dubuque Police Captain Byrne O’Brien, and police detectives Gus Ferkers and William Johanningmeier interviewed dozens of suspects but no arrests were ever made and the case remains unsolved.

Courtesy Des Moines Sunday Register, Sept. 8, 1974

Courtesy Des Moines Register, Sept. 8, 1974

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

Francis Rafferty gravestone

Francis Rafferty is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Key West, Iowa. (Courtesy Cheryl Buelow,

About Francis Rafferty

Francis J. Rafferty was born Dec. 22, 1905, in Dubuque to John and Sarah Rafferty.

He died Feb. 8, 1964.

He was buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Key West, Dubuque County, Iowa.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Francis Rafferty’s unsolved murder please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email, or contact the Dubuque Police Department at 563-589-4410.



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