Polk County in Iowa
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines in Polk CountyDes Moines in Polk County

John Shuey


John Scott Shuey
27 YOA
1427 23rd Street
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Case # 1986-12024
Approx. Date of Death: March 22, 1986
Body Found: March 24, 1986

John Shuey, a 27-year-old plumber and drywall installer, was found stabbed to death in his Des Moines apartment on Monday, March 24, 1986.

Des Moines police found Shuey dead in a pool of dried blood on the living room floor of the 1427 23rd Street apartment after Shuey’s neighbor, Pat Smith, contacted the building’s landlord with concerns about Shuey’s welfare. The landlord then notified authorities.

An Associated Press/Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated March 26, 1986, said an autopsy determined Shuey could have been dead since Thursday, March 20. Shuey’s obituary in the Red Oak Express stated he died March 21, though Shuey’s gravestone lists March 22 as date of death.

Smith had detected an odor coming from Shuey’s apartment over the weekend but received no response after knocking several times on Shuey’s door.

1427-23rd-st-des-moines-john-shueyCourtesy photo Polk County Assessor
John Shuey was stabbed to death at this 1427 23rd Street, Des Moines apartment building.

An autopsy determined Shuey died from a stab wound to the chest, which police believe resulted from a botched robbery.

According to a Des Moines Register article dated September 10, 1986, Shuey had reported a break-in three months earlier on December 22, 1985, in which a .22-caliber rifle, a VCR and videos were stolen from his apartment. Shuey had lived in the building only two months at the time.

One month after Shuey’s apartment was burglarized, Smith also filed a report after she said an intruder broke the glass in the building’s main door and came up the stairs. According to the Register, Smith said she’d grabbed a knife and confronted the man, who fled after telling her he had the wrong address.

Neighbors described Shuey as a quiet, nice person.

His murder remains unsolved.

About John Scott Shuey

John Scott Shuey was born Feb. 15, 1959, the son of William Shuey and Beverly Snyder.

He worked as a plumber and drywall installer.

John Shuey gravestone

John S. Shuey is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Red Oak, Montgomery County, Iowa. (Courtesy photo Marty & Harley, findagrave.com)

He died sometime between March 21 and March 22, 1986, in Des Moines.

In addition to his parents, survivors included one sister, Joy Olmstead of Corydon; three brothers, William Todd Shuey of Brownsville, Texas, Jeffrey Kyle Shuey of Corydon and David Kennedy Shuey of Council Bluffs; paternal grandmother, Viola Shuey of Red Oak; maternal grandmother, Dorothy Clover of Council Bluffs.

Graveside services were held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 29, 1986, at the Evergreen Cemetery in Red Oak, with Nelson-Boylan Funeral Chapel in charge of arrangements.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about John Shuey’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864.

  • Des Moines Police Department, correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
  • John S. Shuey, Find A Grave Memorial, findagrave.com
  • “Robbery eyed as motive in fatal stabbing of man,” Tom Alex, The Des Moines Register, September 10, 1986
  • “Obituaries: John S. Shuey, 27,” The Red Oak Express, Friday, March 28, 1986, Page 2
  • “Des Moines man stabbed to death,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Wednesday, March 26, 1986


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6 Responses to John Shuey

  1. LakeLife says:

    He didn’t do anything to anyone & still someone must have thought there was money in that apartment to be breaking in left & right.
    I pray that the murderer is caught & if he isn’t punished in this life time he will be in the next!

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I notice there is no mention of any forensic evidence recovered. There should have been something between the burglary and his murder. Also, no mention if they got a description of the intruder that Smith encountered.

    I would guess that the offender Smith encountered may have been a drug addict. I wonder if the rifle was ever recovered. Also, if local pawn shops to see if the stolen property were ever taken to them.

  3. arlyce (brendeland) engles says:

    If this is the same John that I went to High School with at North Polk in Alleman Ia. His father worked there. Mr Shuey had two teenage sons, that were just as nice as he was. I think of John often! His life was taken way to soon!

  4. I knew his parents, his dad taught history in Chariton, Iowa, his mom worked at JCPenneys, very nice people, so sad!!!!

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