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

Johnetta E. Jackson


Cleared by Exceptional Means

Johnetta E. Jackson
22 YOA
Went Missing From Des Moines, IA
Found in Four Mile Creek, Pleasant Hill
Polk County
Went Missing: May 4, 1993
Body Found: May 23, 1993

Johnetta Jackson, a 22-year-old mother of a young son and daughter, disappeared from her Des Moines apartment on Tuesday, May 4, 1993.

Police found blood and signs of a struggle inside the apartment, and Jackson’s car was also found burning.

The same day Jackson went missing, a Des Moines man who authorities believed knew Jackson fatally shot himself in the head when police went to question him.

On Sunday night, May 23, Jackson’s body was found in Four Mile Creek in Pleasant Hill, a Des Moines suburb just east of the city. Polk County Medical Examiner Dr. R.C. Wooters said her body had probably been in the creek since Jackson was reported missing.

1993-5-25-crg-johnetta-jacksonCourtesy The Cedar Rapids Gazette
Polk County medical examiner Dr. R.C. Wooters said the cause of death for Johnetta Jackson may never be known due to the amount of time her body spent in the water.

Wooters performed an autopsy, but said officials may never know the cause of death.

“We were able to rule out strangulation, gunshot, stabbing, a blow to the head,” Wooters said in a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated May 25, 1993. “There is a possibility here that drugs may have been involved.”

Wooters indicated the crime lab would test for drugs, but said it was unlikely they would show up after so much time. Too much time had passed, he said, to determine whether or not Jackson had drowned.

Case “Cleared by Exceptional Means”

Although no one has ever been charged or prosecuted in Johnetta Jackson’s murder, the Des Moines Police Department was able to clear (close) her case under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program by “exceptional means.”

To clear an offense under UCR guidelines, the reporting agency must adhere to certain criteria, even though the UCR Program does not distinguish between offenses cleared by arrest and those cleared by exceptional means.

The FBI defines both cases as follows:

Cleared by Arrest

The law enforcement agency, for crime reporting purposes, may clear an offense when all of the following three conditions have been met for at least one person:

  • The person has been arrested.
  • The person has been charged with the commission of the offense.
  • The case case has been turned over to the court for prosecution (whether following arrest, court summons, or police notice).

In its calculations, the UCR Program counts the number of offenses that are cleared, not the number of arrestees. The arrest of one person may clear several crimes, and the arrest of many persons may clear only one offense. In addition, some clearances that an agency records in a particular calendar year may pertain to offenses that occurred in previous years.

Cleared by Exceptional Means

In certain situations, elements beyond law enforcement’s control prevent the agency from arresting and formally charging the offender. When this occurs, the agency can clear the offense exceptionally. Law enforcement agencies must meet the following four conditions in order to clear an offense by exceptional means. The agency must have:

  • Identified the offender.
  • Gathered enough evidence to support an arrest, make a charge, and turn over the offender to the court for prosecution.
  • Identified the offender’s exact location so that that the suspect could be taken into custody immediately.
  • Encountered a circumstance outside the control of law enforcement that prohibits the agency from arresting, charging, and prosecuting the offender.

Examples of exceptional clearances include, but are not limited to, the death of the offender (e.g., suicide or justifiably killed by police or citizen); the victim’s refusal to cooperate with the prosecution after the offender has been identified; or the denial of extradition because the offender committed a crime in another jurisdiction and is being prosecuted for that offense.

Des Moines police were unable to prosecute the primary suspect in Jackson’s homicide because the suspect committed suicide.

No one, however, was ever officially charged or tried in Johnetta Jackson’s death. Her murder remains open in name only.

About Johnetta Jackson

Johnetta E. Jackson was born September 11, 1970.

She had two young children — son Dominique and daughter La’Chaira.



18 Responses to Johnetta Jackson

  1. Not me says:

    Please check the Des Moines Register May 14th 1993 for information on Johnetta Jackson. There is an article on someone whom shot himself.

  2. Gidget Newberry Franks says:

    I lived in the home she had lived in some time after the murder and learNed about it from a neighbor. I always wondered about it. I heard stories from different people. One was Geneva day who did day care for my son and who's children said they went to school with her. I also ended up working with a girl who knew the father of the son and said she thought the child's father was involved and that the man who killed himself before he could.be questioned knew about.the abduction aND was.so scared of what the person would do to him that he took his own life first. This was all.hearsay of course and really is.all i.remember.from back in 1996-1997 when I lived in the home on Amherst

    • Not me says:

      Gidget, I heard the same things about the person whom killed himself. I was not in Des Moines during those time ,but in reality I went to junior high with Johnetta Jackson.No she did not attend Hoover High School.She attended East High.I think the correct direction maybe would be whom ever she was hanging out with and the person whom killed himself friends during that time? Maybe the family of that person that killed themself…Someone knows Des Moines is too small..But this has been buried for such a long time.

  3. Guess they know who did it if he shot himself!

  4. I remeber this very well my husband was asst police chief and he worked this case.

  5. Prayers they find who did this.

  6. Ta'Mar says:

    The case is not cold it is closed according to the Des Moines police department. I’m her great-niece and thought I was ready to look at the case files in 2010 but decided not to keep my appointment. I felt my cousins deserved to have a glance at the fie before I did…

    • Pam says:

      Did Johnetta attend Hoover high school?

      • Jody Ewing says:

        Pam, I don’t know if Johnetta attended Hoover High School. La’Chaira or Dominique may be able to answer that question. Do you think you may have known Johnetta during those school years?

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Ta’Mar, I’ve updated Johnetta’s page to reflect how her case was cleared (closed) under “exceptional means.” In some instances, this type of closure is often a double-edged sword; there are suspects who maintain his or her innocence right up until death, and whether guilty or not, family members are often left with unanswered questions and no hope of ever seeing anyone held accountable in a loved one’s death.

      For that reason, I will leave the case on the ICC site unless La’Chaira and Dominique prefer to see it removed. I hope in some small way her page here paid tribute to a young mother taken away all too soon without final answers or closure afforded to her children.

  7. La'Chaira Fisher says:

    Hello, I am La’Chaira Fisher, the daughter of Johnetta Jackson, and I would like more information like my brother. Is it possible for you to put us in touch with the individual who contacted you? Do you have an email address where we can send you a photo? Thanks for your help and opening this back up. Having the possibility of closure after almost 20 years is… almost unbelievable. Thank you again.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Dear La’Chaira,

      You may send photos directly to me at: jody@iowacoldcases.org

      Were you able to ever connect with Barbara Jackson? If you’d like to e-mail me privately, we can pick things up from there.

      Please accept my sincerest condolences on the loss of your mother.

      All best,


    • pam heintzleman says:

      I thought I had gone to school and was friends with your Mom but I went to Meredith Junior High. I haven’t been able to find out if she went to Meredith and I don’t remember her going on to Hoover. Maybe I have the wrong Johnetta. Was Jackson her maiden or a married name? I pray you find closure.

  8. Dominique Moreno says:

    Im Dominique Moreno the son of johnetta jackson and id like to know more about this and where your getting information from.

    • Jody Ewing says:


      The only information we have so far is that from the article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette (shown on your mother’s page). I’ve included a small clip of it so you can see what it said. Other than her birthdate I found through the U.S. Social Security Death Index, I’ve been unable to locate any other info about her.

      I don’t have the name of the individual (the man) who shot himself the same day police went to question him. If he was the main suspect, his suicide would have made it virtually impossible for police to close the case, even if they were fairly certain he was responsible. (And I can’t imagine him committing suicide if he “wasn’t” responsible.)

      And, while criminal prosecution may not be possible now, if we at least knew his name and/or names of any of his close relatives or friends, we at least might be able to speak with them to see if they have any information or knew of any motive he may have had for killing her.

      I’m so sorry you and your sister had to grow up without your mother. I can’t imagine anything more difficult. I, too, would want answers. The more information we can include on the site about her life (and the man who committed suicide), the better chances we have that someone might come forward with any knowledge they might have.

      All the very best,

      Jody Ewing
      Iowa Cold Cases Administrator

    • Megan Lamberti says:

      Hi Dominique I lived across the street from you guys on Amherst and played with you and your sister when your moms boyfriend wasnt there I had 2 younger sisters I’m real sorry about what happened I’ve thought about you guys often

      • Dominique Moreno says:

        Haven’t been back on here for years. Its crazy to see someone comment on it in 2020. Your name sounds familiar its just been so long. Thanks for thinking about us. Its appreciated.

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