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On February 25, 1975, Hulda Fischer, 84, was stabbed repeatedly with a butcher knife and strangled in her Maquoketa, Iowa, home located at 418 North Fifth Street. Neighbors discovered her body when they went to check on her.
Ronald Keller, who owned an upholstery and antiques store in Maquoketa, and his business partner lived across the back yard from Fischer’s home, and when no one saw Fischer for a day, Keller — who had keys to her house — went with his aunt and neighbor, Hattie Petersen, to Fischer’s home.
They found her lying face down in her basement, and at first assumed she had fallen. They called Thomas Goodwin, a business partner, and when Goodwin turned the body over, a butcher knife was found sticking in Fischer’s chest.
Nothing was missing from the elderly woman’s home and officials said theft wasn’t a motive.
According to the police department, there was a least one suspect but not enough evidence for a conviction.
In a story published Feb. 28, 2015, retired Maquoketa Police Chief Bob Andersen told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald he doesn’t think the case will ever be solved. Andersen, the lead investigating officer in the killing, said no new information has emerged in Fisher’s death since the case went cold decades ago.
“It was one of those cases that you had a lot of information that didn’t go anywhere and very little information that did,” Andersen told the Telegraph Herald.
The neighbors who found Fischer’s body and a one-time suspect in the death have all since died, Andersen said.
“It would have been nice to solve it and find out what the cause was,” he said. “Maybe with TV doing cold cases now, something will come up.”
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Hulda Fischer’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.
Hulda Emma Fischer was born April 3, 1890, in Chicago to Theodore and Hulda Yeskie Skibbe. On Feb. 25, 1914 she married John L. Fischer in Chicago. He died March 6, 1965.
Services were conducted at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, 1975, at the Haylock-O’Hara Funeral Home in Maquoketa with Dr. John Koning, Davenport, officiating. Burial was in Mt. Hope Cemetery.
Hulda was a 50-year member of the Maple Leaf Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star and belonged to the Rebekkahs.
She was survived by two sons, LeRoy of Oildale, California and Arthur of Vista, California; one sister, Mrs. Carrie Wolters, Chicago, and four grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, two brothers and a sister.
If you have any information about Hulda Fischer’s unsolved murder, please contact the Maquoketa Police Department at (563) 652-2468 or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.