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George Raymond Keller, a 61-year-old World War II veteran, was found dead in his rural Clarke County, Iowa home in the early morning hours on Tuesday, September 29, 1981.
According to the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Keller, who lived alone, had converted his garage into a temporary home while he was having a house that was destroyed by fire two years earlier rebuilt.
A Cedar Rapids Gazette article published Wednesday, Sept. 30, 1981, said the fire had been tagged an arson but officials never made any arrests in the case.
An autopsy performed Sept. 29 at a Des Moines hospital showed Keller died from more than one gunshot wound to the head.
DCI agents and Clarke County sheriff’s officials said Keller was found in a pool of blood. The Gazette also reported:
Keller’s sister, Lucy Kent, and brother-in-law, who became suspicious when Keller failed to show up for work at an Osceola gas station Monday night, found him dead at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.
Authorities said Keller was a chicken farmer and was known as “Chicken George.” He lived alone and did not have a telephone, officials said.
Bob Wetzler, Keller’s employer of more than a year, had notified Ms. Kent of Keller’s failure to report to work, the Gazette said. Mr. and Mrs. Kent and Wetzler went to Keller’s garage apartment, located about 12 miles northeast of Woodburn, and found him lying on the floor just inside the door of his home.
“He had one hand up in the air like he was lunging or something,” Wetzler is quoted as saying in the Gazette’s Sept. 30 story.
When the Iowa DCI established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, George Keller’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 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.
An August 20, 2014 message sent to Iowa Cold Cases asked for the public’s help in solving Keller’s death, stating:
The family would like everyone to know we have not forgotten George and we would very much appreciate any help opening his case and getting as much publicity about his case as possible.
It’s been too long and there are still people who know something — we just have to drag it out of them to receive justice for George and let him finally rest in peace.
He has one sibling still living — he was never married nor did he have any children.
George Raymond Keller was born in Clarke County on March 18, 1920, to Oren Ray and Ina Elizabeth (Snyder) Keller.
He served in World War II as a Tech 4 with the US Army.
Keller was a lifelong bachelor, and though he had no children, he had a large extended family including three brothers and three sisters.
He was buried in the Bethel Chapel Cemetery in Liberty, Iowa, Clarke County.
If you have any information about George Keller’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 342-2914.