Polk County in Iowa
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Johnie E. “John” Clinton

Homicide

Johnie E. “John” Clinton
68 YOA
1525 Walker Street
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Case # 1978-41681
Found: October 27, 1978
Estimated Date of Death: Oct. 18 – 20, 1978 

Case information added by Jody Ewing

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.

An Unusual Crime Scene

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.

About Johnie E. Clinton

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.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Johnie Clinton’s unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864.

Sources:

 

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9 Responses to Johnie Clinton

  1. Theresa says:

    Gut Instinct: Someone he knew, but not good friend, thought he took something personal of theirs. Individual has anger issues. Possible police report on theft.

  2. Lots of old men murdered in the area during the previous years.

  3. Just noticed as I viewed Iowa cold cases: 1978; July 8-Anna T Miller-57-bludgeoned in her home. August 10-Glenn W Turner-59-bludgeoned and left in van.Oct 19-Johnnie E "john" Clinton-68-stabbed and bludgeoned in home…there appears to be a distinct pattern here…I am currently checking for Sept. 1978 deaths…or if this is serial, perhaps the person was out of circulation for a period.

  4. This is the only one from Sept. that fits the profile.Homicide:
    William Thomas
    70 YOA
    1213 Jefferson Avenue
    Des Moines, IA
    Polk County
    Case # 1979-35742
    September 9, 1979

    William Thomas, 70, was beaten on the head near his home at 1213 Jefferson Avenue on September 9, 1979. He died the next day.

  5. amanda says:

    I don’t like that a under this listing a picture of the wrong home is here! Was a picture added so people would click and read this case? I lived at 1523 walker when I was a child. My family lived at that address 1992-1995 and 1525 Walker no longer existed then. It was a vacant lot. Google street view is wrong. The picture shared here is of 1517 Walker. I remember as a child the neighbors said the house 1525 Walker burned down. I don’t know when in time that happened. Just knowing the neighborhood during the 1990s, the neighborhood was well on its way to being empty. I remember the house that was next door to the vacant lot was empty. I don’t know how long. Knowing there was a murder in that neighborhood makes sense why it always felt really eerie. There are not may people left in that neighborhood who lived there during 1978, but whoever wanted to investigate might check also into the neighbors. Check into microfilm of property records from that period.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Amanda, thanks so much for bringing this to our attention, and I know what you mean about the problems with Google street view pictures. I’ve since removed the house photo from Johnie’s page. We don’t just add any photo to a case summary, but rather try to provide our readers with as much information as possible (including relevant photos) with hopes of sparking someone’s memory and/or conscience so they might contact the appropriate investigating agency with what they know or remember.

      I’m sorry to hear about your old neighborhood, and thank you for your input.

  6. Diana Wilson says:

    That’s a long time!!!

  7. That may have been a long time ago but, justice should still be served! That’s how I feel about it. And the family deserves justice!

  8. Stabbed to death seems awfully personal….

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