Josh Wellman

Josh Wellman went missing
Nov. 12, 2015.

Joshua Ryan Wellman

Missing Person

Joshua Ryan Wellman
Age at Report: 35
Date of Birth: July 29, 1980
Weight: 175 lbs.
Height: 5’05”
Race: White
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown
Sex: Male
Incident Type: Other adult missing
Missing From: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Linn County
Investigating Agency: Cedar Rapids Police Department
Agency Case Number: 201516983
NamUs Case Number: MP55642
Distinctive Physical Features: Tattoos on arms
Last Seen Alive: November 12, 2015



June 16, 2024 — As part of an occasional series about cold case investigations in Cedar Rapids and Linn County, The Gazette’s Trish Mehaffey sat down with Josh Wellman’s mother, Teresa Walton, and sister, Shawna Hunziker, on June 5 to talk about the morning Josh went missing in 2015. 

The story is the fourth installment in The Gazette’s series and reveals new insights from the family. Cedar Rapids Police Department Investigator Matt Denlinger also talks about how he developed a timeline of Josh’s whereabouts, eliminated suspects, and how the three-member department’s Cold Case Unit is discussing how to move forward with the investigation.

Mehaffey’s article may be found online at The Gazette or in PDF format here.

Joshua R. Wellman, a 35-year-old Vinton native, was reported missing to the Cedar Rapids Police Department on Monday, November 16, 2015.

Josh Wellman tattoo

Tattoo on Josh Wellman’s right shoulder

His mother, Teresa Walton, and sister, Shawna Hunziker, last saw him around 11 a.m. Thursday, November 12, 2015, when they dropped him off at the Cedar Rapids Area Substance Abuse Center.

Investigators discovered Wellman had gone with a few people to the Verizon store on Blairs Ferry Road NE that same afternoon. The store surveillance video helped them identify and interview the people with him and eliminate them as suspects.

It also helped create a rough timeline of Josh Wellman’s day.

Left arm tattoo on Josh Wellman

Josh Wellman left arm tattoo

Josh has three tattoos, which include an unknown tattoo on his upper right arm; an unknown tattoo on his lower left arm; and a tattoo on his right arm that spells the word “HOPE.”

Josh Wellman tattoo

Josh Wellman HOPE tattoo

In an email to Iowa Cold Cases (ICC) on April 15, 2019, Josh’s friend, Linnea Hite, described him as a very devoted father who never would have left his babies willingly, no matter what.

“I was there at the birth of his last daughter and saw him with her in the following months and you could not have seen a prouder father,” Linnea said. “He had her name tattooed on him before she even arrived in this world.”

Linnea also regrets the memories the young girl never got to make.

“It’s been almost four years. She will be ready to start school this year and has no memory of the man whose face would light up the room with his incredible smile and most certainly because of his children,” she told ICC. “They deserve to know what happened to their father and his family deserves some closure.”

Note: The following articles about Josh Wellman’s disappearance are listed in chronological order. It is not possible to include every single story published about his case as coverage in specific media markets often overlaps.  

No word: Vinton native Joshua Wellman still missing

By Vinton Today
January 4, 2016

The holidays were a difficult time for Vinton resident Shawna Hunziker and her family. Shawna’s brother, Joshua Wellman, has not been heard from since Nov. 11.

Joshua Wellman missing poster

Josh Wellman’s friends and family distributed this poster as part of their ongoing efforts to locate him.

“I dropped him off at the ASAC office in Cedar Rapids,” says Joshua’s mom, Teresa Walton.

Later that day, Teresa returned home to see that Josh had gone to a store – probably Walmart – and bought a stuffed animal for his daughter.

The family has not heard from him since.

“He would never just leave like that without telling anyone where he was going,” says Shawna.

The family reported Josh missing to the Cedar Rapids Police Department on Nov. 16. A police spokesperson says the department has heard nothing since then.

Shawna said she tried to call Josh’s phone the day he disappeared, but it went straight to voice mail. His mother said he did not seem upset, nor had she noticed any changes in his life that seemed to bother him.

All of Joshua’s things were still in his mom’s house, where he had been staying. His bicycle was also still at her residence.

Josh’s family says he enjoys spending time with his daughter, camping, fishing, and playing Frisbee golf.

“We miss him and love him,” says his mom.

Vinton native still missing after six weeks

By Jim Morrison, News Editor | Vinton Newspapers
January 5, 2016

VINTON – The search continues for a Vinton native who has been missing for more than six weeks. (Subscription required by to continue reading the article.)

Family of Missing Man Searches for Answers

By Brea Love, KCRG-TV9
Posted: Mon 3:44 AM, Feb 15, 2016
Updated: Mon 7:12 AM, Feb 15, 2016

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) – 35-year-old Vinton native Joshua Wellman was last seen after he was dropped off at the Cedar Rapids Area Substance Abuse Center on November 12.

His family hasn’t seen or heard from him since.

“There’s definitely something wrong,” Wellman’s step-father Dan Walton said. “He wouldn’t go a day without talking to his sister or his mother or something. That’s just not his nature.”

They reported him missing with Cedar Rapids police a couple days later. While investigators started their search, the Waltons did their own.

“We are trying, we keep getting lured from one end of the state to the other end of the state, which is a pack of lies, but we’re trying to get him located,” Walton said.

Police didn’t have any luck either. They searched the last known area, subpoenaed financial and phone records, and interviewed individuals. No evidence was found. Now they are taking a different approach.

“The individual is entered into the national crime center database, which is a good tool for helping to locate missing persons. If the missing adult has any contact with law enforcement in the United States, it will trigger a notification to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, and at this point that has not been fruitful,” Public Safety Information Officer Greg Buelow said.

Finding a missing adult can be difficult for law enforcement. Buelow said most cases fall within three categories, they either choose to leave, have a medical issue, or foul play can be involved.

CRPD said none of those is the case with Wellman, making this case even more challenging.

“We don’t have any evidence that he went voluntarily, we don’t have any that he went involuntarily,” Buelow said. “Police don’t give up on this thing, but obviously it’s got to be very frustrating for family members, we certainly understand that.”

Buelow said police are using all of the tools available to them, but the Walton family plans to continue their search.

“It’s quite obvious something has happened, let the family put him at rest,” Walton said.

They ask if anyone has any information to email them or contact Cedar Rapids police.

Josh Wellman Family Still Seeking Answers for their Missing Son and Brother

By Vinton Today
March 4th, 2019

Just days after a missing Walker man’s body was found, another family is still searching for answers to find their missing loved one.

“Another day starts with no answers. That feeling in my heart is still there and will never go away. The same words race through my head every day all day… WHERE ARE YOU??? We all miss you so much,” said Shawna Hunziker on the Justice for Josh Wellman Facebook page.

Her brother Josh Wellman has just passed the 1,200 days missing milestone.

“Please,” she continued, “Please: If anyone knows anything, please, please, please contact the Cedar Rapids police. WE WILL NEVER STOP LOOKING.”

Joshua Wellman missing persons poster

(Courtesy Vinton Today)

Family friend Heather Tuttle is among those who are helping Shawna, and Josh’s mom, Teresa Walton, to keep Josh’s name and face in the public eye, as they look for answers for their own missing person case, and reach out to other families facing the same tragedy.

Josh was last seen around 11 a.m. on November 12, 2015. Teresa and Shawna had dropped [him] off at the ASAC office in Cedar Rapids. The last time he was seen was on a surveillance camera at the US Celluar building in Cedar Rapids later on that day. He has not been seen since.

[Note: The surveillance camera referenced above was in fact located at the Verizon store at 1100 Blairs Ferry Rd NE in Cedar Rapids.]

On November 16, 2015, he was reported missing.

To help keep Josh’s face and name in the public, and to show their support for other families of missing persons, Josh’s friends and family are organizing a vigil. Plans continue for this event, scheduled for June 8, from 1-3 pm at Green Square Park in Cedar Rapids. The purpose of this event is to come together and remember all of Iowa’s missing people, and their families.

“It is as very important to Teresa to include all of the missing because she never wants another family to feel like she has felt when Josh’s story has been overlooked,” says Heather, who has spent hundreds of hours researching the stories of missing persons in our state. “It is unbelievable how many stories there are,” Heather continues. “It’s heartbreaking. You wouldn’t believe the hundreds of hours I have spent searching lost, missing and unidentified groups looking, hoping and praying to find Josh to bring my friends some peace.”

Teresa adds, “We want people to know that Josh was NOT disposable and that he IS loved and missed! I know he would never have deserted his family, especially his daughter. I just want answers. It has been over 3 years and we are not any closer to finding him then [sic] we were when he went missing. I miss him every day and if I could go back and relive that day, I would have hugged Josh and told him how much I loved him.”

To follow the page for Josh’s return, click here.

As the poster also mentioned, if you have ANY information about Joshua’s disappearance, contact the Cedar Rapids Police Department at 319-286-5375.

You can also leave an anonymous tip at this website:

Information Needed

If you have any information about Joshua Wellman’s whereabouts, please contact Det. Matt Denlinger at the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5375.



29 Responses to Joshua Wellman

  1. Ni says:

    Go read nee gazette article about this new info

    • MikeD says:

      Way more details in that article than the family usually shares . Interesting that the Verizon store he was last spotted at was on the other side of town from the ASAC location he was dropped off at. The Verizon store was the 1100 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE location. He would have needed to be traveling with someone and you can see he seems to be entering the Verizon store with another person. What was the business he was handling at Verizon? Who was the person he was traveling with? Where was his last cell phone ping?

  2. MikeD says:

    Josh’s mother posted something interesting in the facebook group recently. She said that the detective working on this case is Matt Denlinger, who is the one who worked on the Michelle Martinko case. He recently took cadaver dogs to a Palo, IA property and also drained a septic tank to look through the contents and that it wasn’t the first time this has been done. She mentioned that Denlinger said he is very optimistic about the future of this case. Since she mentioned septic I’m guessing it was rural Palo.

    • nick meader says:

      better know your FACTS before you start slinging names like its real…you can put anyones name in there as the perpetrator of this crime…and cause negativity in their life. Harry Meader is not a part of this fiasco….I think its sad what happened to josh..whatever that may be. But until you have facts dont fill in the blanks with personal opinion or rumor. That is a real messed up thing to do and all it does is muddle up the investigation and allow the real perpatrator whoevr it may be get away… between this Abe Froman and Chad Willman spreading bullshit that aint true it will be a wonder if the real person responsible gets caught….way to go guys…way to assist in whoevers escape from justice

      • C willman says:

        Nick do you remember the conversation you had about this and the home that records it all. I am sure you just make up stories and events on camera all the time then pretend that it is not available. Nick meader your bringing yourself and others into something yourself blaming others? I guess you must decide what you want to say on this platform as I seem to think your covering up for what your always doing and that’s blaming your brother and my friend for your troubles in and out of the justice system you go and return and go do low low IQ things. Tell the group you really are that guy. Breaking the law and preying on the good people in society again and again. . Why are you the one committing the crimes alone and actions you take to commit crimes are your own doing. Nick not because you had a brother that picked on you and the world that abuse (There is none) has watered down onto others false impressions of moral qualities you display to others . You best stop the story you tell here of what’s really true and false to me. Do you have me on video doing anything that you describe here? I ask that you would you be willing to stop the slander here on me here? if your really the one that forgets the days of explaining what only not be true as you came with here to make sure I was ok from her vicious false claims on me by herr in a slanderous event itself.What you said on that night of the so called recorded conversation I believe makes everything you say here to this group about me and to them a very big lie and your a fool for it . lie and lie …Nevermind I’m sure like everything you just said I am causing here says different if I do recall. People here this man is so full of falsehoods and just as he sits telling you one thing you should ask him this . Say Nick do you belive that this man is the one stirring things up ? Or Nick can we trust your never really saying that to slander him and deflect from the stories you tell? I would stop blaming myself and telling this group anything more its so sad you can say this knowing what tells of events you may be on devices yourself. Now stop hurting everyone in this lie crap where is your dignity and respect to them . Your way out of line

        • casual observer says:

          This stream of consciousness diatribe is very bizarre. It sounds to me like Nick is standing up for his brother, rather than accusing him of something.

    • SD says:

      This Harry Lyle Meader III has a criminal history a mile long. His outstanding fines and court costs are well into the 6 figure range. Looking at public records it looks like he was out of jail at the time Josh was last see, although he did have a failure to appear warrant set on October 15th of that year. He wasn’t taken into custody on November 22nd in Benton County. If I’m reading the records correctly there was certainly a window of time where he could have been involved. Both this man and Joshua Wellman have meth related convictions. Interesting stuff.

      • Jet Drie says:

        Harry might be a criminal but a killer he is not! He doesn’t even like to fight! His extensive criminal history is non violent mostly drug charges an eluding law enforcement! Why don’t people understand the effects of serious accusations such as these. Calling someone a murderer is something you’d better have a lot of evidence to support otherwise you throw the police into their life for no reason at all! Sharing misinformation is just as bad as being the person doing the original misinforming if not worse! Your minimal theory as to his involvement includes….oh well he was out of jail during that time is pure BS using that theory anyone who came up missing or dead during those couple months was Harry’s fault!? C’mon now that is just asinine! On a serious note … condolences to his family for having to live with constant belief he is probably deceased. I prefer to believe he’s just fine an had to go cause he was adamant about not going back to prison!!! Good luck I hope y’all get the closure your seeking!

        • SD says:

          Jet Drie, since you are replying to me, let me take a moment to correct you. I didn’t call anyone a murderer, I only did the research to see he has an extensive criminal history and was free during the time Josh went missing. I came at this from the opinion that you are innocent until proven guilty. I am looking for every reason to rule him out as a person of interest. Saying he was out at the time doesn’t mean he is guilty, it just means that he isn’t necessarily in a position to be cleared. He ran from a custody/treatment program that Linn County had him in recently so as of the moment of this comment he currently has a warrant for his arrest and is on the run from authorities. He is only making the future worse for himself regardless of this case.

  3. TD says:

    The address of that location he was seen on camera is never given. Which US Cellular building? How far away from ASAC was he? The sister and friends on the family’s facebook group stay tight-lipped, but they could at least share more information like that. They want people to speak up, but they wont speak up. Let us help.

    • Family Friend Josh's friend says:

      Somethings can make more false leads and makes it more painful anything creditable they share they know a lot but lots been disproven too

      • TD says:

        I think at this point they should follow the example of other cold cases and not think any detail is too insignificant. I get not wanting to share their theories and everything, but basic factual details are lacking. Even the question about which US Cellular building he was last caught on camera at gets multiple answers from various people.

  4. Ryan says:

    I joined the Justice for Josh group on FB but there isn’t anyone sharing any theories about what happened. I would like to know what the family thinks happened. Looking around some of the posts and comments I saw that people think he was killed and buried just like Christopher Bagley because of links Joshua has to some of the people involved in that case. The family wants someone to talk, but they won’t talk either, at least not publically.

    • AndrewD says:

      It seems like the Justice For Josh Facebook page is more therapy for the family than anything. I’m not sure the family wants to discuss theories in public. Just a little basic web-sleuthing and background checks about Josh lets you see that he had some problems dating all the way back to high school age and he did serve time in person a couple times. I’m not saying Josh was a bad person, but he was involved in bad things. One thing I noticed years ago is that Bagley and Josh had some of the same friends out of Palo. A lot of these same friends have meth convictions in the past.

    • Nikki says:

      We all would like to know but idk that there is much we know

  5. sue says:

    back then face book had a app to track friends . did he share this app with friends family ?

  6. Anon says:

    Some sort of an official timeline would be useful. I get this from the articles and comments:

    11/12/15 11:00 AM Cedar Rapids – Josh is dropped off by his mother and sister at the ASAC office. A comment said there are multiple locations and that’s true. I looked and there are 4, so an address would be useful.

    11/12/15 – Time Unknown, but presumably after Josh was done at ASAC, he went to a store and purchased a stuffed animal for his daughter. His mother finds it and assumes it was purchased at Walmart. How certain is she that he bought it that day?

    11/12/15 – Time Unknown, but later in the day Josh was last seen alive on a surveillance camera at the US Cellular Building in Cedar Rapids. Exact location is unknown.

    11/13/15 – 11/16/15 – What happened these 3 days? At what point did family become concerned?

    11/16/15 – Josh is reported missing to the Cedar Rapids Police.

    12/3/15 – Pretrial for 3 pending charges he had for a controlled substance violation, a possession of controlled substance – 3rd offense, and possession of drug paraphernalia. A Failure To Appear Warrant is issued for his arrest.

    Better location and times are needed. I hope someone can improve on this.

    • Nikki says:

      16th ave sw asac and i dont know for sure just looking for closure i know that but some say theyve been told the cops know hes gone just not where but idk anything for sure just what it seems like

      • MikeD says:

        I wonder what his cell phone records or app / social media showed. Since he was dropped off I imagine he either didn’t have a vehicle, or didn’t have a valid drivers license. He must have had some people that were his go-to for ride requests that he called, texted, or messaged online. I can only assume that the police have that information and it points to the last person he was in communication with. That information made public would jeopardize things. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would just take off and leave everything behind to avoid treatment and jail time.

        • Nik says:

          Theyres been comments on his fb page justice for josh id go there and just search the page for last place i saw him and itll fill u in thats what i ended up doing

    • Nikki says:

      The one on 16th Ave in cr

  7. MikeD says:

    I’ve only recently became interested in Josh’s disappearance because of postings on Facebook and seeing the Facebook group. Crazy enough, I realized that I actually know him, but haven’t seen him since August of 1994. At that time he was living in a house sort of close to Seminole Valley Park in Cedar Rapids if I recall. I realize that date only because I remember Woodstock 1994 was going on and he said he wished he was there right now.

    I have so many questions the Facebook group doesn’t seem to ever really touch on. Here they are.
    1. I’ve seen that he had either drug or alcohol abuse issues in the past and had treatment. Apparently the last place he was seen by his family was when he was dropped off at an ASAC treatment center. ASAC has multiple locations in Cedar Rapids. What is the address of the one he was dropped off at?

    2. It says he was last seen by surveillance cameras at the US Cellular Building. Again, which one? The US Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids? The US Cellular call center in over by Lindale Mall? Or one of the many retail locations?

    3. Where was he living at the time? Articles make it sound like he was living with his mom. He is always referred to as “Vinton Man”. Was he living in Vinton or living in Cedar Rapids?

    4. Was there a receipt in the Walmart bag to see the time he made the purchase? If he was living in Vinton that would have taken him out of Cedar Rapids and maybe he went missing in Benton County.

    5. Looking him up in the Iowa Courts System you can see he had a pending possession of a controlled substance violation. He actually was supposed to have court not that long after he went missing, and since he didn’t show up he had, and still technically STILL has a warrant out for his arrest. This is probably the biggest red flag for me. What is the story of his bust? Was he busted with other people? Was he in over his head? Were there people who were afraid he was going to snitch? I’m guessing this is the way of thinking the family has since they are “Justice For Josh Wellman” instead of “Find Josh Wellman.” They seem like they already heavily assume foul play.

    • NEG says:

      He never ran from his legal problems and his phone was a dud at some point. I do think the family knows possibly enough to claim justice instead of find or what not i wish i knew. The other info on him after the hard evidence with proof isnt as hardcore but i know if you read through his record it wasnt his first time in the system or facing time snitch would be furthest from the scenario. But i wish theyd tell us more, family and the law enforcement this case is truly to under told and if it could get the momentum most others have maybe wed all know more….i think conflict of interest or something is a big part….thanks for of you from me not family but close enough if u asked josh….i love n miss him and just want closure for myself too.

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