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George Albert Leonard, 53, a painting contractor and former Elmwood Dairy milkman, was shot to death in the early morning hours on Saturday, November 28, 1981, while working his second part-time job at ‘The Inn’ tavern in Clinton, Iowa.
Leonard worked at the S. 14th Street and Bluff Boulevard bar, owned by Barb Wood, from 7 until 10 a.m. each Saturday.
Sometime during the robbery-homicide, an unsuspecting woman entered the tavern and came face to face with the Leonard’s killer, who assaulted her and left her for dead before fleeing the scene and running down the building’s south side.
Witnesses described the killer as a 5-foot-9 male with reddish-brown hair and a mustache, and said the young white male wore blue jeans and a dark jacket.
Clinton Police Chief Wayne Wilke headed up the investigation, which included six plainclothes officers. He also called in the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation to assist with the investigation.
About $1,000 was missing from The Inn Tavern’s cash register.
A November 30, 1981 article published in the Clinton Herald described Leonard as a “man of ‘giant’ stature and ‘gentle nature.’ ”
Ten months earlier, a 19-year-old bartender Pamela Hinrichs had been robbed and killed at the AMVETS Post No. 28 at 1317 S. 17th St. — less than one mile away from the establishment where Leonard was slain.
When 48-year-old Raymond Hinrichs, Pam Hinrichs’ father, learned of Leonard’s slaying, he contacted Clinton police to offer his help in the investigation, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported on Dec. 1, 1981.
Police developed a composite sketch of the suspect in Leonard’s murder, conducted a house-to-house search, and friends chipped in toward a refund fund. None of the efforts proved effective in developing any positive leads.
Clinton County Attorney G. Wiley Pillers also said investigators didn’t have any information that would connect Hinrichs’ slaying to Leonard’s.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, George Leonard’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.
George A. Leonard was born in Clinton, Iowa, November 3, 1928 to William “Ted” A. and Grace L. (Carrington) Leonard.
He married Eleanor Fredricksen on June 8, 1946, and the couple had three children.
He was a member of the Zion Lutheran Church and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
George Leonard was buried at the Clinton Lawn (aka Clinton Memorial) Cemetery in Clinton County, Iowa.
If you have any information about George Leonard’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Clinton Police Department at (563) 243-1457.