Wapello County in Iowa
Eldon, IA
Eldon in Wapello County

Helen Marie Morrow

Homicide

Helen Marie Morrow
55 YOA
Eldon, IA
Wapello County
August 12, 1980

 
Mrs. Helen Morrow was found lying on a bed in a first floor room of her fire-ravaged two-story home in Eldon, IA, on August 12, 1980. An autopsy report showed she died of smoke inhalation.

Herman Pierce, 48, also of Eldon, was charged Tuesday, Aug. 26, 1980, with first-degree murder in Morrow’s death, but a grand jury refused to return any indictments against him.

Courtesy Oelwein Daily Register, Aug. 27, 1980

Courtesy Oelwein Daily Register, Aug. 27, 1980

Eldon Police Chief Larry Reisch said Pierce, who reportedly worked for Mrs. Morrow, was accused of deliberately setting the fire, and was held in the Wapello County jail under a $100,000 bond. The murder charge was filed following an investigation by the state fire marshal’s office.

Pierce had been questioned by authorities and held in jail on an intoxication charge the night of the fire, Reisch said in an Oelwein Daily Register article dated Aug. 27, 1980.

Witnesses told authorities they saw Pierce leaving Mrs. Morrow’s home moments before flames were detected.

Courtesy Oelwein Daily Register, Oct. 4, 1980

Courtesy Oelwein Daily Register, Oct. 4, 1980

Though county prosecutors filed murder charges against Pierce, they decided to convene a grand jury to hear evidence in the case.

Pierce testified for more than four hours before the grand jury, according to his defense attorney, Tom Waller.

On Friday, October 3, 1980, a four-man, three-woman Wapello County Grand Jury failed to return any indictment against Pierce.

About Helen Morrow
helen-morrow-gravestone-600pxCourtesy photo Joanne, findagrave.com
Helen Morrow was buried at the Batavia Cemetery in Jefferson County.

Helen Marie (Thompson) Birchmier Morrow was born Sept. 23, 1924 to Perry D. and Zelda (Ware) Thompson.

She married Robert Birchmier, who was killed during World War II without ever getting the chance to meet the couple’s son, Jerry Robert Birchmier.

Helen was buried in Batavia Cemetery in Batavia, Jefferson County, Iowa.

Information Needed

Anyone with any information concerning Helen Morrow’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Eldon Police Department at 641-652-7510.

References:
  • Eldon Police Department
  • Helen Marie Morrow (1924 – 1980) — Find a Grave Memorial
  • “Area unsolved murders continue to haunt law enforcement officials, families,” Ottumwa Courier, January 8, 2007
  • “Refuse indictment in death,” Oelwein Daily Register, October 4, 1980
  • “Charged in fatal fire,” Oelwein Daily Register, August 27, 1980

 

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