Pottawattamie County in Iowa
Pottawattamie County in Iowa
Carter Lake in Pottawattamie CountyCarter Lake in Pottawattamie County

Humberto Cortez


Humberto Cortez
DCI Case # 96-06859
Carter Lake, IA
Pottawattamie County
June 21, 1996


On June 21, 1996, a partially decomposed male body was discovered in a rail car by a Paxton Verling Steel employee. The body was identified in December 2009 as that of Humberto Cortez.

Very little information is known about this case.

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

Information Needed

If you have any information about Humberto Cortez’s unsolved murder please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us, or contact the Carter Lake Police Department at (712) 347-5920.



8 Responses to Humberto Cortez

  1. Why did it take so long to identify the body?

    • Mike Byrne says:

      It probably has something to do with the geography of Cater Lake and which state has jurisdiction.Due to the Missouri river changing course over the years,Carter Lake is now surrounded by Nebraska,not Iowa.I remember reading about this anomaly back in the 1960’s.It seems that both Nebraska an Iowa wanted to or didn’t want to claim ( I don’t remember which) Carter Lake as part of their state.The case finally went to the United States Supreme Court and the court decided that Carter Lake belonged to Iowa even though geographicly it was in Nebraska.If i remember correctly,neither state was happy about the Supreme Court decision but were resigned to live with it since there was no court left to appeal the decision.At any rate,I’m of the opinion that both states were disinclined to pursue the case despite the Supreme Courts deciision of 30+ years before.But,I could be wrong.Or not.

      • Jody Ewing says:

        Mike, thank you for this interesting piece of history! I did a little bit of research on it, and it appears Nebraska wanted to claim it after the 1877 flood, but Iowa wanted to keep it and “cried foul,” which led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Here’s an article about it published in the Omaha World-Herald last August.

        • Mike Byrne says:

          Well,it’s been 50 years since I read a different but similar article about Carter Lake,so please excuse me for not getting the facts correct.Don’t ask me what I had for breakfast this morning because my short term memory isn’t as good as my long term memory~;)

          • Jody Ewing says:

            Mike, no apologies necessary! I was quite intrigued by your June 19 comment, especially since I had no idea that Iowa and Nebraska had gone to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine what state actually owned Carter Lake.

            I drive down to the Eppley airport at least a couple of times each year, and while waiting for a plane to arrive, frequently park across the street at the Levi Carter Park, where one can walk out on the wooden docks and enjoy viewing all the lily pads floating in the lake (not to mention the beautiful views up and down the lake).

            You hadn’t gotten any of the facts wrong — you simply pointed out there had once been a fight between the two states over the lake’s ownership. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about an area not far from where I live. Thank you for that! :-)

  2. I have no idea, Chris. He might have been homeless, but apparently no one had reported him missing.

  3. That’s what I was wondering Chris Pierce Moody.

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