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Harold Ronald Holt, 24, was shot in the abdomen in the early morning hours on Jan. 1, 1966, after attending a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s home. He died two weeks later on Monday, Jan. 17, of complications from a “perforatory wound” in a lung.
Polk County Medical Examiner Dr. Leo Luka said Holt suffered wounds in the liver, diaphragm and lung.
Holt, who resided in Des Moines at 1040 Sixteenth St., had spent the evening at the home of Lawrence Robinson in Des Moines when a feud erupted between two other men at the party.
Douglas McArthur Wilson, 21, of 1549 Eighteenth St., Des Moines, and Herman Mure, 21, of 815 Crocker St., went outside, and Holt followed.
According to a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated Jan. 17, 1966, there had been ill feelings among a group of men, including Holt, Wilson and Mure, for a long time.
The argument moved into the street around 3:30 a.m.
Mure shot and wounded Wilson in the knee with a .25 caliber revolver, and another bullet grazed Wilson’s ankle.
Holt was somehow hit in the stomach by a .38 caliber revolver slug, and transported to Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines, where he died Jan. 17.
The Mason City Globe-Gazette quoted Police Detective James Thompson as saying Holt was shot in the stomach when Mure and Wilson fired at each other.
According to a Feb. 8, 1966 article published in the Des Moines Register, Mure was charged with assault and intent to commit murder in Wilson’s shooting, but Polk County Municipal Judge Luther T. Glanton, Jr. dismissed charges against Mure after a Jan. 21 hearing. Glanton recommended that the county attorney wait for disposition of the murder case against Wilson and then present facts in the Mure case to the Polk County Grand Jury.
Wilson was charged with going armed with intent, and then murder after Holt died.
On Monday, Feb. 7, 1966, Wilson was bound over to the Grand Jury on the murder charge. Glanton also presided over that case, and, based on testimony from character witnesses, ordered Wilson be released on his own recognizance pending any Grand Jury indictment.
Assistant Polk County Attorney Frank Comito objected, stating Wilson might flee to avoid prosecution. His objection was overruled and Wilson was released.
As of Dec. 13, 2009, no one had ever been convicted in Holt’s death.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Harold Holt’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.
Harold Ronald Holt was born December 21, 1941, and served as a PFC with the 42nd Medical Ambulance Company during his military service.
He died January 17, 1966, of complications from a January 1, 1966 gunshot wound.
Harold Holt was laid to rest in Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa.