Guy Heckle

Guy Heckle (Courtesy IA Dept. of Public Safety)

Guy Howard Heckle

Missing Person

Guy Howard Heckle
Age at Report: 11
Date of Birth: December 20, 1961
Height: 4’5″
Weight: 80 pounds
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Hazel
Missing From: Cedar Rapids / Toddville, IA
Linn County
Investigating Agencies: Des Moines Police Department and the Linn County Sheriff’s Office
Case Number: 73-53
NCIC Number: M-533883169
NamUs MP # 4018
NCMEC # 1153731
Classification: Endangered Missing
DNA Status: Sample submitted — Tests complete
Missing Since: February 3, 1973

Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Guy Heckle was reported missing to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office in Cedar Rapids late on Saturday, February 3, 1973, after disappearing while on a Boy Scout camp-out near the Duane Arnold Energy Center northeast of Palo, Iowa and two miles northwest of Toddville.

Linn County

Linn County in Iowa

The 11-year-old Heckle — a member of Linn County’s Boy Scout Troop 101 — had been camping out with fellow scouts at the Kiwanis Cabins along the Cedar River between Palo and Toddville for the scheduled Feb. 3-4 event. Heckle was last seen at approximately 8 p.m. while playing a game of “Capture the Flag” with other troop members.

He’d been wearing a light blue nylon quilted parka, striped multi-colored maroon jeans, and chukka boots.

The Eisenhower Elementary School fifth-grader wasn’t missed until bed-check that evening, and troop members spent 90 minutes searching for him on their own before summoning the Linn County sheriff. Regular and reserve deputies, Marion police and Civil Defense volunteers searched the reserve near the Cedar River’s ice-clogged backwaters that night.

On Sunday, Feb. 4, a searcher found the boy’s blue parka — still zipped at the bottom — snagged on a log along the river’s east bank. Heckle’s mother, Nancy Heckle, identified the coat as her son’s.

cr-boy-disappears-CRG-guy-heckle-duane-crockCourtesy photo Duane Crock, Cedar Rapids Gazette
This Gazette photo published Feb. 5, 1973, shows just a few of the 500 individuals who searched for Guy Heckle’s body in a heavily wooded area near Toddville on Sunday, Feb. 4.

That same day, about 500 people searched a heavily wooded area about a mile west of Toddville, not far from the Cedar River.

In addition to the 500 persons on foot, a helicopter, airplane, all-terrain vehicle and horses were employed for the search, the Gazette reported on Feb. 5, 1973. The search was called off once darkness fell and scheduled to resume the following day.

On Monday, 250 searchers scoured the area, along with a bloodhound and a special search-and-rescue team from California.

Investigators theorized Heckle may have slipped into the river and drowned, but admit it is possible something else led to his disappearance. Though weather was mild at the time of the camp-out, snow arrived shortly afterwards.

Guy Heckle lived with his parents, Nancy and Howard Heckle, and two older sisters, ages 12 and 13, at 1505 48th St. NE in Cedar Rapids.

School officials considered the boy a good student.

The blue parka remains the only known trace of evidence ever found in Heckle’s mysterious disappearance.

Family believes foul play involved

According to Mike Mason — Guy Heckle’s cousin — the family always thought there was more of a chance foul play was involved versus the drowning theory, particularly since the boy’s body was never recovered. Heckle’s disappearance also coincided with a number of 1970s media reports about Iowa Boy Scout leaders allegedly molesting troops in their care.

Heckle had disappeared after dark. On Feb. 3, 1973, the sun set over the camp at 5:24 p.m., and Heckle was last seen at 8 p.m. while playing the game “Capture the Flag” with other troops.

“Capture the Flag” (as defined by Wikipedia) is a traditional outdoor game where two teams each have a flag (or other marker) and the object is to capture the other team’s flag, located at the team’s “base,” and bring it safely back to their own base. Enemy players can be “tagged” by players in their home territory. These players are then — depending on the agreed rules — out of the game, members of the opposite team, sent back to their own territory, frozen in place until freed by a member of their own team, or “in jail.” (One variation of the game includes a “jail” area in addition to the flag on each team’s territory.)

The game is often played at night, where players might use flashlights, glowsticks, or lanterns as the “flags.” Wikipedia says of the night time game:

It is also suggested that teams wear dark colors at night time to increase the difficulty of the opponents to see them.

Different versions of the game have different rules, both for handling the flag and for what happens to tagged players. A player who is tagged may be eliminated from the game entirely, be forced to join the opposing team, sent back to their own territory, or be placed in “jail,” which Wikipedia defines as:

The jail is a predesignated area of the group’s territory which exists for holding tagged players and is normally towards the back of the group’s territory. It is usually located a good distance from the flag to minimize the possibility of simultaneous flag grabs and jail breaks.

While tagged players may be confined to jail for a limited, predetermined time, the most common form of the game involves the option for a “jailbreak.”

Generally speaking, there is nothing sinister about the game itself, though when played in the dark — particularly if an adult child molester is in the vicinity — it provides a perfect opportunity for a child to become isolated from other team members and/or lured away by a trusted leader.

Please Note: We at Iowa Cold Cases are in no way insinuating that any troop leader for Linn County’s Boy Scout Troop 101 was involved in Guy Heckle’s disappearance and/or death. The information and game rules about “Capture the Flag” has been noted only because Heckle went missing while in the midst of playing this night time game, which may or may not have played a role in his disappearance.

guy-heckle-reward-CRG-5-26-1974
Courtesy The Cedar Rapids Gazette
On May 26, 1974, The Gazette published an announcement for a $5,000 reward offered for information in Guy Heckle’s mysterious disappearance. The reward went unclaimed.
Reward Goes Unclaimed, Years Pass

On May 26, 1974, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI — now Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation) announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to Guy Heckle’s discovery.

Both the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register published copies of the reward poster in hopes of generating new leads.

The reward went unclaimed.

Twenty-two years after their son went missing, Howard and Nancy Heckle told the Gazette they still held out hope that someday their son’s remains would be found. Other than having their son back alive, the most they could hope for was for someone to find his remains, they said.

Not knowing is very hard,” Nancy Heckle said in Gazette article published July 24, 1995. “The chances of him being alive . . . We have to be realistic.”

Howard Heckle, 65, had since retired from his job at Iowa Electric, though Nancy, 63, continued to work as a registered nurse at Mercy Medical Center.

For years, the Heckles had kept Guy’s room the same as it was when he disappeared, but eventually turned it into a spare bedroom, they told the Gazette. They’d finally given away most of Guy’s toys and clothing, but said they’d kept a Boy Scout’s shirt similar to the one their son had been wearing when he disappeared.

The couple had conducted their own search for Guy for more than a year after he went missing, and would go out after work each day and on weekends, sometimes searching with a boat.

Guy was then — and remains today — listed as a missing person with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, and the Heckles said knowing the case remained alive offered them hope that one day they’d know what happened to their son.

nancy-heckle-by-mark-christian-crg-2-3-2002Courtesy photo Mark Christian, The Cedar Rapids Gazette
In this February 2002 Gazette photo, Nancy Heckle sits on a sofa in front of photos of her many grandchildren.

Howard Heckle died, still waiting, on January 20, 1998.

In a Cedar Rapids Gazette interview published February 3, 2002, Nancy sat on a sofa in front of wall photos of her children and many grandchildren.

“I don’t have any hopes that he is alive now, but we would like to know what happened,” she told Gazette reporter Steve Gravelle. “If someone knows that Guy met with foul play, it’s not too late to give Guy’s family some peace,” she said.

About Guy Heckle

Guy Howard Heckle was born December 20, 1961, to Howard F. and Nancy Heckle. In addition to his parents, he left behind two older sisters.

“I remember him the age he was,” Nancy Heckle said in a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated February 3, 2002. “I think about him every day.”

Mrs. Heckle described her son as “comical” with a marvelous sense of humor.

“If it was foul play, at least one person knows, if they’re still alive,” she told Gazette reporter Steve Gravelle. “If someone knows, it’s not too late to give Guy’s family some peace.”

The family, who long clung to hope, never had a funeral or memorial service for Guy.

“When do you say it’s OK?” Mrs. Heckle said in the ’02 interview.

Howard Heckle died January 20, 1998, without ever learning what happened to his son.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Guy Heckle’s unsolved disappearance, please contact Lt. Gene Parks at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at (319) 892-6100 or the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4800.

Sources:

 

Copyright © 2017 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

38 Responses to Guy Heckle

  1. M ike Mason says:

    10/20/2012

    My name is Mike Mason,
    I am the cousin of Guy Heckle and I want to make sure that Guy is NOT forgotten in all of the media attention on the Iowa Boy Scout leaders that were reportedly molesting children from the 1970’s on, that has been coming to the forefront in the news the past few days!
    Our Family has always thought there was more of a chance of foul play than Guy drowning, as his body was never found.
    Then this, coming out from the Boy Scouts hidden files!!!!!
    mm 2012

    • "Kate" says:

      Hi Mike!
      I would like to share with you my memory of your cousin Guy. How can I do that? It is something I’m sure you will appreciate, but I don’t want to write it here.

      • Jody Ewing says:

        Kate, I will contact Mike and see if it’s okay to send along his email address to you via private email. That way, neither of you have to publicly post your personal contact information here if you don’t want to. Jody

  2. andrea says:

    February 3 1973 was a Saturday. John Gosch, Mark Warren Allen, and Eugene Martin all went missing on weekends. The July 1989 attempted abduction of a paper boy in Indianola occurred on a weekend. Could Guy Heckle’s disappearance be related to the others? It would appear that the perp worked weekdays and therefore conducted the abductions on weekends.

    • Sarah says:

      It’s possible of course but I don’t think it’s likely. Guy Heckle went missing 10 years before the newspaper boys. Also, camping near the Duane Arnold Energy Center (outside Palo) would be much more isolated than a paper boy delivering papers. If Guy was abducted or harmed by another person it was either a crime of opportunity or someone at the camp who knew him. The paper boy disappearances seem much more planned.

      In the case of Guy Heckle, I assume the camp leaders were all interviewed? What about the other scouts? Usually when you’re playing capture the flag, your team comes up with a strategy and every member has a role to play. I’m interested to know if Guy was sent down to the river as part of his team’s strategy and what exactly he was doing the last time he was seen. Had Guy been sent to “jail”?

      I hope the Heckles find answers!

      • Jeff says:

        Sarah. .. I was there and we were all interviewed.

        • rob says:

          Could you please call me at 3194316568 , guy came to me in my dreams an spoke to me . Im investigating on my own

          • Tracy says:

            So you just happen to be “investigating” this case and he spoke to you in a dream? You should be ashamed of yourself posting such nonsense.

            Find a different hobby. This is a real kid with a real family. They don’t need to be indulging your games.

        • laura barlow says:

          Jeff, what do you remember?

      • Todd Wolfe says:

        As i recall, and it has been quite some time ago, Guy’s role was to guard the flag. He was placed behind some trees just off to the side of the flag and he was suppose to come out and guard the flag if opposite team members approached the base. That was the last I ever remember seeing him. 40+ years now? Wow.

  3. Carole says:

    I went to school with Guy, and really liked him. My friends and I set up collection cans at local stores to raise money to find him. At 11, I wasn’t sure what else to do. I think about Guy and his family often…you are all in my prayers. I still look at his picture and remember his personality. May you find peace.

  4. becky manship says:

    Please know I care, you are in my prayers . I pray that some day you will have answers.

  5. LeaAnn Thompson says:

    Sarah -were the names of the cub scout leaders ever made public? If the leaders were interview, were the results of the interview made public?

    • jeff says:

      LeaAnne….
      We were all interviewed by local authorities and the FBI. I don’t remember if they were made public or not.

    • Sarah says:

      I’m sorry LeeAnn, I’m just seeing your comment now. I have no idea if the names or interviews were made public. I wasn’t even born yet and have not done much research on this case.

      You could try looking up newspaper archives if you want to try to pursue that line of research.

      It’s good to hear that every one was interviewed. I’m sure the police did their best. I wish they could find him though :(

  6. Mike says:

    I lived in Palo as a kid during the late 80s and early 90s. A few times we went fishing and hiking in the area he went missing. There were a lot of large snapping turtles that would hiss at us, which was pretty scary. Also in a lot of areas there are steep river banks that give away easy. I always thought the most likely scenario is that he fell in. Back when I was in the area the river was very muddy and had a lot of debris.

    It was said previously in the comments, but I too would like to know what the other scouts had to say. What was Guy’s task during the game, where was he supposed to go?

    • Todd Wolfe says:

      During the game, his role was to stay to the side of the base in the trees and come out when opposing team players approached to guard it.

  7. FFB says:

    https://identifyus.org/en/cases/10524 This John Doe is the only likely match I could find in the missing persons database.

  8. "Kate" says:

    Guy Heckle was abducted. Guy was wearing his black eyeglasses and didn’t know, what kind of danger he was in, until it was to late. John Gosch was taken by the same trafficking ring. John Gosch should have had an hearing aid in his left ear. I’ve informed the police but nothing happens.

    “Kate”

    • laura barlow says:

      why do you say that Kate??

    • Tracy says:

      Nothing happens because they know you’re a loon. Leave them(and all other cases) alone. People like you do nothing but make these cases worse with your moronic “theories”. It just muddies already muddy waters.

      The cases are not linked. I cant stand how so many people act like its the same group kidnapping/murdering children. Either that or its a bunch of cop conspiracies. Pure nonsense.

      I wish the net had never been mainstreamed to this extent because it caused it to drown in an ocean of idiocy.

  9. Diana Wilson says:

    Wow!!!! Poor child. I can’t imagine the family never knowing what happened to their child.

  10. Such pain for the family

  11. I remember this..Do you Rob Heslop

  12. Rob Heslop says:

    Yes Elaine Heslop-Clark Donell

  13. Olivia says:

    I’m so glad i found this article. The only piece of evidence that was found was found by my great grandpa. I remember my dad telling me about this case, and I never knew how big it really was! RIP Grandpa, and I’m proud that I am the granddaughter of the man who found the only piece of evidence

  14. I was only 7 when Guy disappeared. From the age of 17-23, I worked at Iowa Electric as a janitor. Howard Heckle was one of my absolute favorite people there; I never connected that he was Guy’s father. This absolutely breaks my heart. Howard was such a sweet, funny, caring fellow. I have thought of him often over the years, very sorry to see he passed. He and I were buddies. He called me Sunshine.

  15. Laure (Mitchell) Kottman says:

    Hi, my name is Laure. My maiden name was Mitchell. Unfortunately I don’t have any information about the Guy Heckle case. I wish I did though. My family lived in the same neighborhood as the Heckles. We lived on Benton St NE shortly before the disappearance took place. We moved away from the neighborhood in 1968. My younger sister, Lisa, was in kindergarten with Guy. My older brother, Jeff was in the same class as Holly Heckle at Eisenhower Elementry School. Of course my family heard about the disappearence when it happened. I can’t imagine anything this horrible happening to anyone. It’s very haunting whenever a child is a victim. My heart goes out to the Heckle family. I hope this case gets solved and the family gets some closure. The sooner the better. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  16. laura barlow says:

    looking for any further information…

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