Hardin County in Iowa
Hardin County in Iowa
Steamboat Rock Steamboat Rock in Hardin County

Henry Juchems

Homicide

Henry Juchems
81 YOA
Steamboat Rock, IA
Hardin County
DCI Case # 85-03433
July 3, 1985

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On July 3, 1985, Henry Juchems was found dead in his rural Steamboat Rock, Iowa, home, apparently the victim of a botched burglary.

Juchems, an 81-year-old retired railroad worker, hadn’t picked up the mail from his mailbox for several days, and postman Paul Primus decided to investigate.

Henry Juchems mailbox, Waterloo CourierCourtesy photo Lawn Griffiths, Waterloo Daily Courier
The Waterloo Daily Courier published this stand-alone photo of Henry Juchems’ mailbox on April 9, 1973. The caption read: “THE WEEKEND SNOW raised havoc with all forms of routine activities including the mail. Besides people raising the red flag for help in getting to work, many mailboxes in Northeast Iowa had no mailman come Monday to respond to their red flags. There’s a fat chance that the mailman didn’t come to this fat mailbox at the farm of Henry Juchems, northwest of Steamboat Rock.” Just over 12 years later, the same stuffed mailbox would alert a mailman to Juchems’ murder.

Primus found the longtime bachelor dead in his farm home, his hands and legs bound and his eyes and mouth covered with tape.

On July 5, 1985, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported that state pathologist Peter Stephens had completed the autopsy but still didn’t know what caused Juchems’ death.

Juchems’ murder was the second major crime to shake the north-central Iowa community in recent weeks; one month earlier, a gunman robbed the town’s only bank, the Hawkeye Bank and Trust of Eldora. Assistant bank manager Bernie Heard had been tied up in the robbery, and no arrests had been made in the case.

Reward Offered in Case

In 1996, based on a recommendation by Hardin County Attorney Jon Heitland, the Hardin County Supervisors established a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for Henry Juchems’ death.

The reward fund went unclaimed, and the case remains open today.

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Henry Juchems’ 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.

Courtesy Spencer Daily Reporter

Courtesy Spencer Daily Reporter, July 24, 1985

Although Federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI remains committed to resolving Iowa’s cold cases. The DCI will continue 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 the resolution of 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.

About Henry Juchems

Henry Juchems was born January 19, 1904, and was a lifelong bachelor. In United States Census reports for 1940, he was listed as living with the Nelas Christianson family in Hardin and working for them as a “hired man.”

He was buried in the Steamboat Rock Cemetery in Clay Township in Hardin County.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Henry Juchems’ unsolved murder, please contact the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office at 641-939-8189, or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

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