Wapello County in Iowa
Wapello County in Iowa
Ottumwa in Wapello CountyOttumwa in Wapello County

John Robert Hill


John Robert Hill
51 YOA
Ottumwa Launderette
East Main Street
Ottumwa, IA
Wapello County
DCI Case # 76-00925
November 22, 1976
Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On Monday, November 22, 1976, at approximately 5:06 a.m., two young men found John Robert Hill, 51, lying face down in a small room at the Ottumwa Launderette that Hill owned and operated on East Main Street in Ottumwa.

Ottumwa Courier article Jan. 6, 2007

The Ottumwa Courier on Jan. 6, 2007, published this story about the area’s unsolved murders, including that of John Robert Hill.

Authorities said Hill had been stabbed 21 times and also had been shot. A .25-caliber pistol lay on the floor near Hill’s right hand. Police said it had been fired five times and found five bullet holes near the front door, but only four bullets could be found in the building. Police think Hill died fighting.

Hill’s pockets had been turned inside-out, and he was believed to have been robbed of several hundred dollars.

Someone also had written two words in his blood. One was either “black” or “lack.” The other was “older.”

Lt. Mike McDonough of the Ottumwa Police Department, new to the department at the time, described the crime as a bloody murder and said there obviously had been a lengthy struggle.

ottumwa-launderette-john-hillCourtesy photo Google
The East Main Street launderette in Ottumwa where John Robert Hill was shot and stabbed 21 times. Officials said Hill fought hard for his life.

The Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called in to aid in the murder probe, and Craig Beek, then-director of the Iowa BCI, sent a crime team to the scene.

Two suspects emerged soon after Hill’s murder, and on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1976, then-Chief of Detectives Hugh McElroy said at least one would take a lie detector test that week.

The suspects, McElroy said, were southeastern Iowa residents, and that one of the major problems hampering the investigation was the early morning hour involved and that there had been no response by the public to pleas for information from anyone who may have been in the area at or near the time of the murder.

Courtesy Carroll Daily Times Herald, Nov. 30, 1976

Courtesy Carroll Daily Times Herald, Nov. 30, 1976

The evidence never came together well enough to make a case that would stand up in court, and police never made an arrest.

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

Information Needed

Anyone with information about John Robert Hill’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us. You may also contact the Ottumwa Police Department at (641) 684-5555.



Copyright © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

12 Responses to John Hill

  1. LakeLife says:

    This is so sad!
    He wrote in blood that the killer was black & older.
    He tried to describe the killer.
    Praying for justice!

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I find it interesting that there was no mention of the police finding any fingerprints. Also, in regards to the .25 caliber firearm found at the scene. It would appear that it belonged to the victim. But, it not exactly identified as his. Which makes me wonder if the laundromat had ever been robbed before. This might explain Mr. Hill’s possible need to carry a weapon.

    Also, he was stabbed 21 times, which would possibly point to someone bring extremely angry with him. Also, he was shot once. But, the authorities did not identify the caliber of the bullet. I might assume he was shot with the .25 caliber. But, it is an assumption.

  3. kel kel says:

    Hmm something did not sound right with the Dylan post so with a little tap tap on the keyboard I found a Dylan Oldenburger on LinkedIn, says he is a grown man, a detective in Ottumwa. Something strange is going on here and it’s not a little boy innocently posting his address in the comment section of this website.

    • Dylan Oldenburger says:

      Hi and my name is Dylan oldenburger and I am 21 right now and I wants to find out who’s killed john robert hill and other men who’s were murdered by the same killers in ottumwa iowa right now and my email is oldenbudylan@gmail.com or texts me at my phone number is 571-931-5831 texts me only pleases pleases pleases pleases

    • Cosmicflare2012 says:

      I agree, i also looked around in google maps and there is no house there! Also there is a sign that says the address so that would explain how this “Dylan” got it. I DONT THINK THATS A KID TALKING OR THE REAL DYLAN OLDENBURGER.

    • CosmicFlare2012 says:

      I actually also found this “Dylan OLDENBURGER” facebook, it’s all just a bunch of strange stuff, the website itself made me uncomfortable. Which leads me to believe that something isn’t right with this person.

  4. Dylan Oldenburger says:

    And make sure no one copying my address to my house in ottumwa Iowa now-;)

    • Dennis radar says:

      Hey Dylan, this is not a place to make comments about how you wanna help and be a police officer….. help your self by learning proper grammar and also common sense…… your comments are innapropriate and just plan dumb…..jackass

      • CJ says:

        Hey Dennis radar, Leave the kid alone. And before you criticize someone else, you might want to proofread your own comment and take your own advice. “Help yourself by learning proper grammar and also common sense..your comments are inappropriate and just plain dumb.”

  5. Dylan Oldenburger says:

    Hi and I want to helps you with unsolved murders in 1960 now and be cause I do now and be cause I all way want to be a police officer and detective at ottumwa police department in ottumwa Iowa now-;) and I have Facebook and Instagram now and I am deaf and I am a boy and I am 17 now and I got open heart surgery on my chest three time now-;) and I am in ottumwa Iowa now and my address to my house in ottumwa Iowa is 268 e Rochester road ottumwa Iowa 52501 in ottumwa Iowa now-;)

  6. Kris Starks says:

    This is my home town and I was 14 when this happened.

  7. I don’t have pc access now, so I’ve missed every post for a couple weeks.

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