Frankie Capps

Frankie Capps with children, circa 1978 (Courtesy Barbara Capps Fritz)

Frankie Lee Capps

Suspected Homicide

Frankie Lee Capps
24 YOA
2903 W. 68th Street
Davenport, Iowa
Scott County
March 13, 1978

 
 
Frankie Lee Capps, a 24-year-old partner in the Capps Brothers Hawkeye Standard Service Station in Davenport, Iowa, was killed in his Davenport home by a shotgun blast to the forehead early on Monday, March 13, 1978.

Capps’ best friend, Dick Loughead, an ex-brother-in-law, said he found the body and told police Capps had committed suicide. It is unknown what relationship, if any, Loughead had with the responding officers, but what eventually came to light is that the shotgun used to shoot Capps got wiped down and put back into a closet at the 2903 W. 68th Street home in Davenport where Capps resided with his wife and two young children.

Frankie Capps graduated from Marceline High School, Class of 1971. (Courtesy Barbara Capps Fritz)

Capps’ wife, Rosemary, had taken the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Barbara, and 5-month-old son, James, away to Missouri for the weekend. According to Capps’ relatives, Rosemary Capps had been having an extra-marital affair with Loughead, who’d previously been married to one of Frankie Capps’ sisters.

The story of Frankie Capps has taken a circuitous route in making its way onto the Iowa Cold Cases website as efforts to gather information hit one dead end after another; two officials with the Davenport Police Department said they not only had no case files on Capps, but didn’t know who he was because they had no record of his death.

The Scott County Risk Accessor’s Office and the Scott County Medical Examiner’s Office recently told Barbara (Capps) Fritz “that’s impossible” because a report of the shooting would have been compiled and filed with the investigating agency. Officers would have been dispatched to the scene. Photos taken. Evidence gathered. Reports written and filed, whether typed up or filled out by hand.

The medical examiner said a full investigation clearly wasn’t done because an autopsy should have been ordered. She immediately asked Barbara if her mother (now deceased) was involved. The medical examiner had found the “Informant” name on the death certificate as “odd.”

Rosemary and Frankie Capps

Frankie Capps and his new wife, Rosemary (Amos). (Courtesy Barbara Capps Fritz)

All death investigations, even when suicide is strongly suspected, are still treated as a possible homicide until investigators prove otherwise. But with Capps, it was as if his death never happened. His life and how it ended had apparently vanished without a trace.

It hadn’t.

Davenport police were courteous and cooperative with inquires made by Iowa Cold Cases and responded promptly. They were as surprised as anyone else about the non-existent case file, and wondered if perhaps the death hadn’t taken place in another city or county.

When Frankie’s daughter finally received the official Certificate of Death, there was no mistaking where her father died; according to Scott County Medical Examiner Rollin Perkins, Mr. Capps had sustained the shotgun blast to the forehead in his own home located at 2903 W. 68th Street in Davenport.

The Capps Brothers Hawkeye station was found to have been robbed over the night — a fact that wouldn’t be revealed until after the clean-up work at the Capps’ residence.

Frankie and Rosemary Capps

Frankie Capps removes the garter from his wife Rosemary’s leg after their Dec. 21, 1974 marriage. (Courtesy Barbara Capps Fritz)

Something else stood out in the death certificate: Perkins had not ruled the manner of death as a suicide. “Undetermined,” it said.

Capps’ daughter told Iowa Cold Cases that the family — and they were a large one, with Capps having six surviving brothers and four surviving sisters — had long believed Frankie had been murdered, but when Barbara and her brother got older and started asking questions, their mother told them their dad “killed himself because…”

Police recently spent eight hours combing through old microfiche, and still could find nothing.

“And then they told me, ‘Unfortunately, reports go missing every day,’ ” Barbara said in a February 26, 2019 email to Iowa Cold Cases.

Davenport police want answers as much as everyone else, and the county’s current medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Harre, has promised Capps’ daughter that more information is forthcoming; details from the coroner’s inquest and observations about the body — being pulled from the medical examiner’s files this week — will soon be on their way to a daughter who refused to gave up on the father she never got the opportunity to know.

Frankie Capps family photos

Frankie Capps family photos (Courtesy Barbara Capps Fritz)

“Someone went to great lengths to hide or destroy these reports,” Barbara told Iowa Cold Cases.

Barbara Fritz is aware she’s going to learn some uncomfortable truths about her mother’s life and father’s death, but she’s been preparing herself for years; she wants to finally understand what really happened.

Money, Motives, Madness

Stories of lives are riddled along the way with obstacles that one must overcome.

Frankie Capps’ wife Rosemary (Amos) Capps Means died in Henry County, Ill., at the age of 41. since died. His best friend and wife’s lover, Dick Loughead, has also since passed away.

Part of the details Barbara has gleaned thus far tell the story of a hard-working young family man committed to making a good life for his wife and children.

Frankie Capps at McDonald's

Frankie Capps’ first job was at a McDonald’s in Davenport. (Quad-City Times photo dated Feb. 27, 1972)

He’d been born in Worthington, Missouri and attended high school Marceline, Mo., where he graduated with the Marceline High School Class of 1971. He moved to Davenport and got his first job at McDonald’s. He later went to work for Case IH, and after marrying Rosemary Amos on Dec. 21, 1974, he and his brother Ed bought the Standard Service Station, which they named Capps Brothers Hawkeye.

“My mom,” Barbara told ICC, was mentally not okay without medication and later self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. She said she knew her parents were having issues and that her mother took her and her brother to Missouri the weekend her father was killed.

Her mother had a life insurance policy on her father and immediately tried to cash it in, Barbara said, but the life insurance company claimed the death was a suicide and denied the claim. Rosemary sued the life insurance company and lost.

Why would they think my dad killed himself, Barbara wondered, especially since the death certificate didn’t list his death as a suicide. Why wasn’t an autopsy done? Were her father’s hands tested for gunshot residue? The 12 gauge belonged to her father, but the adults knew he kept it in a closet. Why was it wiped down and not taken in for evidence?

And, though the coroner’s inquest deemed her father’s death as undetermined, the coroner later said they [those who participated in the inquest] believed Capps’ death was a possible murder. The insurance company had denied the claim, citing suicide, before the coroner’s inquest even began.

About Frankie Lee Capps
Frankie Capps as a boy

Frankie Capps as a boy growing up in Missouri. (Courtesy Barbara Capps Fritz)

Mr. Frankie Lee Capps, age 24 years and 3 months, of 2903 West 68th Street, Davenport, Ia., passed away Monday morning, March 13, 1978, at 8:15 a.m. at his home. Mr. Capps was born December 13, 1953 at Worthington, Mo. the son of Glen Davis and Alice Berneta Hawkins Capps.

On December 21, 1974, at Davenport, Ia., he was united in marriage with Rosemary Amos and to this union two children were born. Mr. Capps had been a resident of Davenport, Ia., for six years and had lived in Marceline, Mo., where he had attended high school, and was graduated from the Marceline High School Class of 1971. He had also been a resident of the Worthington, Mo. community, where he had been born.

He was a partner in the Capps Brothers Hawkeye Gas Station in Davenport, Ia.

Mr. Capps is survived by his wife, Mrs. Rosemary Capps, of the home; one son, James Capps, and one daughter, Barbara Capps, both of the home; his mother, Mrs. Berneta Followwill of Worthington, Mo.; six brothers: Larry Capps of Davenport, Ia., Eddie Capps of Nashville, Tenn., Kenneth Capps of Paducah, Ken., Norman Capps of Davenport, Ia., Gordon Capps of Calamus, Ia., and Marvin Capps of Bettendorf, Ia.; four sisters: Mrs. Kay Brown of Princeton, Ia., Mrs. Silvia Wilson of Maquoketa, Ia., Mrs. Peggy McLaughlin of Davenport, Ia., and Mrs. Berneta Loughead of LeClaire, Ia.

He had been preceded in death by his father and grandparents.

Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon, March 16, 1978, at 1:00 p.m. at the Husted Funeral Home in Unionville, Mo., with the Rev. John Edward Pierce officiating. Interment was in Lone Pine Cemetery in Martinstown, Putnam County, Mo., under direction of the Husted Funeral Home of Unionville, Mo.

Card of Thanks by family:
We wish to express our thanks for the kindness and sympathy extended to us following the death of our loved. — The Family of Frankie Lee Capps.


Information Needed

If you have any information about Frankie Lee Capps’ mysterious death, please contact the Davenport Police Department at (563) 326-7979.

Sources:
  • Barbara (Capps) Fritz, correspondence ongoing with Iowa Cold Cases (ICC), April 28, 2015 to present
  • Davenport Police Department
  • Dr. Barbara Harre, Scott County Medical Examiner, March 2019
  • Leslea Howell, correspondence to ICC, May 20, 2016
  • Scott County Health Department, phone call placed by ICC on Sept. 23, 2015
  • “Inquiry into 1978 Shooting Death (Davenport/Scott County), Cara Veeder, ICC email to Dennis Coon, then-Coordinator of the Scott County Medical Examiner’s office, with copy sent to ME Resource Assistant Brenda Schwarz, Sept. 22, 2015
  • Lydsey Seifert, Records Bureau Supervisor, Davenport Police Department, Sept. 21, 2015
  • Scott County Medical Examiner’s/Coroner’s Office, ICC phone call placed Sept. 21, 2015
  • Lt. Kyle Chisholm, Davenport Police Department, email correspondence with Iowa Cold Cases, Aug. 27, 2015 and Aug. 31, 2015
  • Det. Gilbert Proehl, Person Crimes Supervisor, Davenport Police Department, email correspondence with Iowa Cold Cases, July 13, 2015 and July 16, 2015
  • Cara Veeder, part-time researcher for ICC, 2015
  • Frankie Lee Capps, Find a Grave Memorial page, Findagrave.com
  • Frankie Lee Capps Obituary, The Unionville (MO) Republican, Wednesday, March 22, 1978, Page 8.
  • Frankie Lee Capps obituary, The Quad City Times, March 14, 1978.
  • State of Iowa, Department of Health, Certificate of Death for Frankie Lee Capps, handwritten report from March 13, 1978, Book 27, Page 149, #114-1978-006412
  • “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch.org, Frankie Capps, Mar 1978; citing U.S. Social Security Administration Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  • McDonald’s employees, Frank Capps photo, The Quad-City Times, Feb. 27, 1972

 

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