Winneshiek County in Iowa
Winneshiek County in Iowa
Decorah in Winneshiek CountyDecorah in Winneshiek County

Harold Orville Doerring

Missing Person/Presumed Dead

Name: Harold Orville Doerring
Age at Report:
March 14, 1930
200 lbs.
Brown/gray balding
Incident Type:
Disability – physical / mental
Reported Missing in Decorah, IA, Winneshiek County
Death Listed in Henry County, south of Mount Pleasant
Missing Since:
February 16, 1997


Case Summary by Jody Ewing

Sixty-six-year-old Harold Doerring was reported missing to the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office in Decorah, Iowa, on February 16, 1997.

Authorities found Harold Doerring’s truck abandoned on Highway 218 south of Mount Pleasant in Henry County on February 23, 1997. When they tried to contact him about the vehicle but could not find him, they discovered no one had seen Doerring since February 16 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Downtown DecorahCourtesy photo Wikipedia Commons
Downtown Decorah, Iowa

Doerring, family members told officials, had recently been depressed. They described him as wearing eyeglasses and possibly clothed in a red or blue stocking cap, jeans and black high-top shoes, and a black jacket.

RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project states that Doerring is “presumed dead,” with date of death listed as February 1997 in Henry County, Iowa.

Sons’ Deaths Precede, Follow Doerring’s Disappearance
Henry County in Iowa
Henry County in Iowa
Mount Pleasant in Henry CountyMount Pleasant in Henry County

Harold Doerring already had lost and buried one of his three sons.

His 20-year-old son, Peter Frederick Doerring, was killed Nov. 23, 1980 during a tragic hunting accident in Pony Hollow near Elkader, Iowa.

Seven years after Harold Doerring went missing, another son, 43-year-old Martin Harold Doerring of Luana, Iowa, was murdered while traveling out of state for his job.

Martin Doerring was shot and killed Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004 in his Spokane, Washington hotel room when he tried to stop a robbery in progress by trying to wrestle the gun away from the robber.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier staff writer Jeff Reinitz described the murder in an article published Thursday, October 21, 2004:

Doerring was an independent contractor who worked with R&M Metals of Hudson and traveled the nation on assignments. He carried all of his belonging with him and didn’t have a wife or children, [Doerring’s sister Julia] Elder said.

He liked being on the road, said Roger Tompkins, who operates the salvage company.

Tompkins said Doerring was working with a crew of R&M employees at the time of the crime. They were hired to retrieve scrap metal from the abandoned Kaiser Aluminum plant in Mead, Wash.

Spokane police said Doerring was staying at the Apple Tree Motel with two employees.

The three had gone to a nearby tavern earlier in the night, but the two roommates returned at about 11:45 p.m., leaving Doerring behind.

About 45 minutes later, there was a knock on the motel room door, and the roommates assumed it was Doerring, Spokane police said.

When they opened the door they found a young man pointing a handgun. The intruder entered the room and demanded their money, but the two said they had no money, police said.

Doerring apparently walked into the room while the gunman was still there, police said.

Doerring grabbed the gun, and the robber fired one shot, according to police. The victim collapsed to the floor, and the shooter ran from the motel.

The WCF Courier reported that a police dog tracked the suspect across the motel property and over a cyclone fence, but lost the scent in an adjacent parking lot.

Apple Tree Inn in SpokaneCourtesy photo
Martin Harold Doerring of Luana, Iowa, was killed at this Apple Tree Inn in Spokane, Washington, when he tried to grab a gun away from a robber who’d held Doerring’s two co-workers at gunpoint for 45 minutes before Doerring arrived. Doerring, an independent contractor who traveled the nation on assignments, and the two employees were in Spokane to retrieve scrap metal from the abandoned Kaiser Aluminum plant in Mead, Wash.

The Spokane Police Department flooded the case with detectives and issued a sketch based on descriptions from the other two robbery victims.

By Friday morning, October 22, detectives already had developed strong leads and spent the entire afternoon following the suspect in six different vehicles.

Spokane Police spokesman Dick Cottam also announced that an organization of Spokane-area business owners — called “Secret Witness” — had put up a few thousand dollars as a reward for information about the gunman.

That same night, the detectives’ hard work paid off; they arrested 27-year-old Devenniyon Marquise Courtney of Spokane and charged him with first-degree murder in Martin Doerring’s death.

According to Cottam, Courtney had four convictions in Spokane: one each for harassment, first-degree burglary, child molestation and first-degree theft. When investigators searched Courtney’s house and an acquaintance’s home and found the revolver used in Doerring’s slaying, a serial offender’s life of crime was about to come to an abrupt end.

Martin Doerring’s funeral was held in Postville, Iowa, and included a special memorial for his father, whose body has never been recovered.

Harold Doerring remains listed as a missing person on the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Missing Person Information Clearinghouse and with the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office.

About Harold Doerring

Harold Orville Doerring was born March 14, 1930, to Lorenz August Doerring and Beatrice Carolyn (Palas) Doerring. He married Elvera Mae Jensen on August 26, 1956, in the Luther Valley Lutheran Church in Beloit, Wisconsin.

The couple had five children: two daughters, Angela and Julia; and three sons, Peter, Martin, and Andy.

Doerring’s wife Elvera Mae died from cancer on Oct. 6, 1970 at University hospitals in Iowa City.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Harold Doerring’s disappearance or death, please contact the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office at 563-382-4268 or the Missing Person Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-346-5507.

  • Iowa Department of Public Safety Missing Person Information Clearinghouse
  • Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office
  • — Reference Number 37422, RootsWeb ID: I037422
  • “Washington police catch Iowa man’s alleged killer,” WCF Courier, Oct. 26, 2004
  • “Man charged in fatal motel shooting,” The Spokesman (WA) Review, Oct. 23, 2004
  • “Police work to solve Iowa man’s murder,” WCF Courier, Oct. 23, 2004
  • Iowa man shot in Washington robbery,” WCF Courier, Oct. 21, 2004
  • “United States Public Records, 1970-2009,” database,, Harold Orville Doerring, Residence, Calmar, Iowa, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.
  • “United States Census, 1940,” index and images,, Harold Doerring in household of Lorenz Doerring, Luana, Monona Township, Clayton, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 22-32, sheet 3A, family 54, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 1149.
  • “United States Census, 1930,” index and images,, Harold O Doerring in household of Lorenz H Doerring, Luana, Clayton, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0031, sheet 1A, family 6, line 21, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 649; FHL microfilm 2,340,384.


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5 Responses to Harold Doerring

  1. So much tragedy in one family.

    • Patrick Kerrigan says:

      I find it interesting that his vehicle was found in Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant is located at far southern part of Iowa.

      I could not find any connection to that neck of the woods for him. I also wonder if he was getting any treatment for his depression. It appears that he was dealing with it for a number of years.

      • Patrick Kerrigan says:

        Also, he supposedly he was last seen in Cedar Falls, but a picture of Decorah is shown. According to Ancestry and Family Search there is no record of him in connection with Decorah.

        Also, there is no Social Security Death Index entry for him. Also, at 66 years of age, he would have been eligible for Social Security and Medicare. So, it would be interesting to know if their has been activity on either account.

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I also wonder what was in his vehicle, when it was found in Mount Pleasant. I wonder if it might have been stolen. Also, I wonder what connection that this area had with Mr. Doerring or his family. I find it interesting that Harold and his wife were married in Beloit, Wisconsin.

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