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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.
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.
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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at (319) 472-2337.