John Albert Rose

John Albert Rose (Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette)

John Albert Rose


John Albert Rose
35 YOA
Vinton, IA
Benton County
Case Number: 78-02418
April 21, 1978

Case information provided by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Cedar Rapids Gazette
Four days after his 35th birthday, John Albert Rose was shot in the head in Benton County, Iowa, while visiting with Black Hawk County ex-cons.

Investigators said he was beaten, executed, and then dumped in a Benton County ditch three miles north of Vinton in east-central Iowa.

John Albert Rose

John Albert Rose as a youth (Courtesy The Gazette)

Rose had been convicted of second degree murder in his father’s May 24, 1960 death, and had spent time in the Anamosa prison before being released and moving to Chicago.

Rose was just 17 when he shot his 49-year-old father, Noel Albert Rose — a former World War II US Navy Reserve veteran — in the head. Rose claimed his father handed him a .22-caliber rifle and told him to shoot at birds, but that just as he fired, his father stepped in front of him and he accidentally shot him.

Evidence submitted during the trial indicated Rose broke out a store window and shot his father from inside, rather than outside as Rose claimed.

Tried as an adult, Rose pled guilty to manslaughter halfway through the trial and went on to serve six years at the Iowa Men’s Reformatory at Anamosa.

At the time of his father’s shooting, Rose was already on parole; he’d served time in Eldora’s Training School for Boys after shoplifting charges in Linn County.

Rose, an Iowa native, had most recently been living in the basement of his mother’s Broadview, Illinois home outside Chicago, where he comforted himself with handcuffs, billy clubs, nightsticks, tear gas, lockpick tools, American Nazi Party propaganda and a Ku Klux Klan card.

Read Rick Smith's "Murderer dies at hands of killer" published in the Gazette March 16, 1992.

Read Rick Smith’s “Murderer dies at hands of killer” published in The Gazette March 16, 1992.

He came and went as he pleased, and on Thursday, April 20, 1978, flew to Des Moines to pay a trip to the Iowa Board of Parole with hopes of locating former prison friends. When he found the parole board’s secretary out and temporarily unavailable, he said he’d be back and took a bus to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area.

According to Cedar Rapids Gazette staff writer Rick Smith in a story published March 16, 1992, Rose had the reputation of “using people,” and had led a troubled life.

The Gazette noted the following incidents about John Rose:

  • 1958-1959: Challenges opposing football player to a duel with chisels.
    Disarmed while wielding a knife at West Union High School. Lands in Cedar Rapids group home and later at State Training School for Boys at Eldora.
  • 1960: On juvenile parole in West Union, kills father with a gunshot to the head. Tried as an adult, is allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter.
  • 1967: Released from Iowa Men’s Reformatory at Anamosa. Later is arrested in Chicago for armed robbery.
  • 1972: Graduates from Southern Illinois University with a degree in cinema and photography.
  • 1972: Spends 30 days at mental institution in Illinois.
  • 1975: Lands in Illinois House of Corrections for an unstated reason.
  • 1976: Earns master’s degree in criminal justice from Arizona State University.
  • 1977: Kicked out of State University of New York at Albany (while pursuing doctoral program in criminal justice) after being accused of harassment and carrying a concealed weapon.
  • 1978: Attempts to recruit past acquaintances from Iowa prison, possibly for a criminal gang.
  • April 21, 1978: Killed while visiting Black Hawk County ex-cons; body dumped in Benton County.

The Gazette said Rose visited Black Hawk County to meet with ex-cons with whom he’d spent time in prison in the 1960s, and was executed in the middle of a delusion. According to The Gazette:

Rose apparently thought he was going to organize the ex-cons into an outlaw band of thugs who would knock over drug dealers, banks and armored cars. He failed to realize the Black Hawk County group not only included drug dealers, but it had no need for him.

The group likely knew him just well enough to fear his unique brew of oddness, unpredictability and violence.

~ The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, March 16, 1992

Born April 17, 1943, John Albert Rose was survived by his mother, Elsa (Saling) Rose, and a younger brother, Roy.

Elsa Rose died Feb. 28, 2006. She was buried at Dunkard Cemetery in Marion, Iowa, next to her husband.

Information Needed

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

Anyone with information regarding John Albert Rose’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email, or contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at (319) 472-2337.

Sources and Other References:
  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Former Cold Case Unit, December 10, 2009
  • MURDERED. MISSING UNSOLVED. Murderer dies at hands of killer,” by Rick Smith, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, March 16, 1992
  • United States Social Security Death Index,”, John Rose, Apr 1978; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  • United States Social Security Death Index,”, Noel Rose, Feb 1960; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  • “File 5 Civil Suits In District Court,” The Monticello Express, November 12, 1963
  • “File Four Civil, Four Criminal Suits in District Court,” The Monticello Express, September 19, 1963
  • “Witness Claims Rose Said He Planned To Kill His Father,” The Oelwein Daily Register, December 16, 1960
  • “Re-enact Shooting Scene In Murder Trial Of John Rose,” The Oelwein Daily Register, December 14, 1960
  • “McCauley Still On Witness Stand,” The Oelwein Daily Register, December 13, 1960
  • “Rose Murder Trial Opens At Waukon,” The Oelwein Daily Register, December 12, 1960
  • “Rose Enters Plea Of Not Guilty To Charge Of Murder,” The Oelwein Daily Register, November 11, 1960
  • “Slayer Denied Access To Police Information,” The Oelwein Daily Register, October 4, 1960
  • “Mental Examination For John Rose Set,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 2, 1960
  • “Rose, 17, Is Indicted on Murder Count,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 30, 1960
  • “District Court Grants Habeas Corpus Writ,” The Monticello Express, July 7, 1960
  • “Boy Is Bound Over in West Union Killing,” The Waterloo Daily Courier, June 15, 1960
  • “John Rose Accused Of Killing Father,” The Oelwein Daily Register, May 27, 1960
  • “Boy Facing Murder Count,” The Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 27, 1960
  • “W. Union Youth Held, Investigate Death of Father,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 26, 1960
  • “Rites Set For Shooting Victim,” The Oelwein Daily Register, May 25, 1960
  • “West Union Boy Held During Shooting Probe,” The Waterloo Daily Courier, May 25, 1960
  • “West Union Man Dies of Gun Wound,” The Waterloo Daily Courier, May 25, 1960
  • BillionGraves Index,” index,, Noel A Rose, citing BillionGraves : 2012).
  • Noel Albert Rose (1911 – 1960),” Find a Grave Memorial
  • “Under a Surviving Chestnut Tree,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 17, 1957


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2 Responses to John Albert Rose

  1. Stay Strong! says:

    Wow, John Rose did some nice work in his 35 short years. Not too many can say that he actually killed his father and then was killed, presumably, by ex-cons that he looked.

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