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Johnie E. “John” Clinton — a 68-year-old retiree and World War II veteran who often sat strumming his guitar on his Des Moines home’s front porch — was stabbed to death in his kitchen sometime between October 18 and October 20, 1978.
Des Moines Police Officer Fred Allen discovered Clinton’s body Friday, October 27, and officials determined Clinton, who lived alone in the small 1525 Walker Street home, had been dead anywhere from seven to nine days.
Neighbors described Clinton as pleasant and quiet, and simply assumed he wasn’t home when they didn’t see his 1972 gold Plymouth Satellite parked in the driveway.
Relatives notified police after knocks on Clinton’s locked door went answered.
Officer Allen found Clinton in the kitchen after forcing open the home’s back door.
Clinton lay on his back on the kitchen floor, a mattress covering all but his legs. Clinton was fully clothed and had suffered 10 stab wounds to the neck, inflicted by some type of thin blade. A blunt instrument had also been used to fracture Clinton’s skull.
Relatives told Des Moines police the home had little value, but the home had been ransacked and furniture drawers dumped and stacked near the front door. Investigators believed the killer brought the mattress in from the garage; mattresses from the home’s two beds were left undisturbed.
Clinton’s vehicle was later found at the corner of Dixon Street and Jefferson Avenue, several blocks from Clinton’s home.
Johnie E. “John” Clinton — referred to in some reports as Johnnie E. Clinton — was born on March 25, 1910, to Alice and William J. Clinton. His coal-miner father was born in South Carolina and his mother a native Virginian, but the couple settled in Iowa to raise their five sons.
Johnie served with the US Army during World War II.
Clinton’s brothers included George K., Andrew J., Willie J., and Morris S. Clinton.
If you have any information about Johnie Clinton’s unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864.