Karen Streed in February 1971
(Courtesy CBS2Iowa)

Karen Theresa Streed


Karen Theresa Streed
21 YOA
Case # 71-00703
Home Residence: Cedar Rapids, IA (Linn County)
Body Found in Amana, IA (Iowa County)
Investigating Agency: Iowa County Sheriff’s Office
Body Found October 24, 1971
Disappeared/DOD: October 18, 1971


Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On Sunday, October 24, 1971, Karen Theresa Streed, 21, was found dead in the old Amana millrace canal located between West Amana and South Amana, Iowa. She had been missing one week and had been shot four times in the head.

Linn County in Iowa
Linn County in Iowa
Cedar Rapids in Linn CountyCedar Rapids in Linn County

Streed, who was employed by the American Optical Co., told co-workers she planned to hitchhike to Iowa City to see her husband, Ron Streed, a student at the University of Iowa. The couple lived at 112 Seventh St. SW in Cedar Rapids, and Ronald Streed commuted to classes at U of I.

Mrs. Streed was last seen Monday evening, Oct. 18, at Sixth Street and Sixteenth Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids at about 6 p.m. She was wearing a black poncho cape, a light-colored T-shirt, levi jeans and boots.

Lynn Trumpold, 17, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Trumpold of Middle Amana, was hunting Sunday evening along the millrace between West and High Amana when he spotted Streed’s body floating face down in the water. He made no effort to retrieve the body, and rushed home to tell his father, who called the Iowa County sheriff.

Streed’s husband made the identification from personal items found on his wife’s body.

The couple had married June 24, 1970, in California, and Mrs. Streed had been a resident of Cedar Rapids for about a year.

An autopsy performed at the U of I Hospitals in Iowa City determined Mrs. Streed was killed late Oct. 18 or early Oct. 19, 1971, and that her body had been in the water two to five days. In addition to the four gunshot wounds to Streed’s head, there also were marks on her head showing she had been struck with a blunt instrument three times.

Karen Streed

Karen Streed (Courtesy The Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Investigators in Streed’s death included the Cedar Rapids Police Dept., the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and sheriff’s deputies from Iowa, Linn, and Johnson counties.

Streed’s father, Mathias Casey, a 17-year veteran of the Foxboro, Mass., police department, worked with investigators on his daughter’s case but was not a part of the official investigation.

Ron Streed had organized a search for his wife earlier on Sunday in the Coralville reservoir area. About 100 volunteers combed an area about 10 miles from where Mrs. Streed’s body was found.

Authorities said Streed was clothed but that her black poncho, a green Army slicker and boots were missing. Scuba divers were unable to locate any of the missing items.

Old Amana millrace canalCourtesy photo Duane Crock, Cedar Rapids Gazette
Law enforcement officials look on as divers explore the old Amana millrace canal in search of items belonging to murder victim Karen Streed.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that as officers were organizing a search at the bridge Sunday night, a man with a California license plate on his car drove up to the scene and offered to help in the search. Officers questioned him, and when he told conflicting stories and could produce no identification, he was arrested on a charge of having no driver’s license and taken to the Johnson County jail.

Three scuba divers and a man in a boat combed the millrace from the highway 220 bridge south of West Amana for about 195 feet east to the point where Streed’s body was found.

Then-Iowa County Sheriff William Spurrier said there was nothing to indicate Streed’s body had been carried to the place it was found, and speculated that the killer dumped her body upstream and it floated to the area.

Karen Streed was one of four young Iowa women slain within the month. Maureen Farley, 17, was found bludgeoned to death near Cedar Rapids on September 24. On October 17, the body of Jeanine Marie Christensen, 18, was found in her Storm Lake apartment. She had been raped and strangled, and police later arrested Miss Christensen’s fiance, Michael Dean Peterson, on a first-degree murder charge. On Oct. 23, the day before Streed’s body was found, the body of Miss Karen Ann Goers, 23, was discovered in a ditch along a Mahaska County road. She had been shot several times in the head. Charles Silvers, 31, of Oskaloosa was held in connection with Goers’ death.

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Karen Streed’s murder was one of approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA forensic technology.

Although federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI continues to assign agents to investigate cold cases as new leads develop or as technological advances allow for additional forensic testing of original evidence.

The DCI remains committed to resolving Iowa’s cold cases and will continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.

In July 2015, Iowa Cold Cases partnered up with the Iowa Newspaper Association for a year-long project designed to feature — in newspapers all across the state of Iowa — unsolved cases with hopes of encouraging tips or new leads that might help solve some of Iowa’s decades-old cases. By October 2015, approximately 200 Iowa newspapers had signed up to participate in the weekly series.

In Your Weekly Paper, A WordPress weblog for Benton, Iowa, and Poweshiek Counties, Brian Rathjen published an article Sept. 9, 2015 about Streed’s 1971 unsolved murder as well as the September 1980 Amana Holiday Inn double homicide of Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison.

Rathjen said the following about Ms. Streed’s autopsy:

The autopsy report, completed by the University of Iowa, confirmed the brutal cause of death and also indicated marks on her head from being struck three times with a blunt instrument. (Streed’s autopsy was done by Dr. Earl Rose, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, both connected to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.)

~ 2015 GONE COLD: Years later, deaths of hitchhiker, hotel guests remain a mystery, by Brian Rathjen, Your Weekly Paper

About Karen Streed

Karen Theresa (Casey) Streed was survived by her husband, Ronald; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Matthias Casey of Foxboro, Mass.; three sisters, Sandra, Paula and Regina, all at home; grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Winfred Busch of West Roxbury, Mass., and Mrs. Catherine Casey, Dorchester, Mass.

She married Ronald Streed on June 24, 1970, in California.

Services were held Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1971, at 10 a.m. at the Teahen chapel by the Rev. Paul J. Maguire. Prayer vigil services were held Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. by Father Maguire at the Teahen chapel. 

The casket was not opened at any time, and Karen was laid to rest at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.

After a long illness, Matthias Casey passed away June 18, 1987, at the age of 60. Karen’s mother, Constance B. (Busch) Casey, died April 12, 2012 at the age of 87.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Karen Streed’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office at (319) 642-7307 or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, former Cold Case Unit, December 24, 2009
  • Iowa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Karen Theresa Casey Streed — Find a Grave Memorial
  • Iowa’s Unsolved: New technology could lead to answers in 49-year-old cold case,” by Cymphanie Sherman, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, CBS2Iowa.com
  • “2015 GONE COLD: Years later, deaths of hitchhiker, hotel guests remain a mystery,” by Brian Rathjen, “Your Weekly Paper,” September 9, 2015
  • “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch, Constance B Casey, 12 Apr 2012; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  • “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch, Matthias Casey, Jun 1987; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  • Ramada Inn, Williamsburg, amanacolonies.com
  • “Obituaries: Constance B. (Busch) Casey,” The Foxboro (MA) Reporter, April 16, 2012
  • “Obituaries: Matthias Casey, 60, Retired Foxborough Policeman,” The Boston Globe, July 3, 1987
  • “No Prime Suspect in Coed’s Death,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 23, 1973
  • “No Clues in Slaying of 2 Iowa Women,” by Bill Joyce, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Nov. 17, 1971
  • “Unable to Identify Gun Used to Shoot Cedar Rapids Woman,” The Williamsburg (IA) Journal-Tribune, Nov. 11, 1971
  • “Woman Slain,” The Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, Oct. 28, 1971
  • “Probe continues into the deaths of woman here and others in Iowa,” The Muscatine Journal, Wed., Oct. 27, 1971
  • “Bullet Wounds Found During Streed Autopsy,” The Iowa City Press-Citizen, Oct. 27, 1971
  • “Authorities Probe Iowa Deaths of 3 Young Women; Link Sought,” The Lincoln Star, Tues., Oct. 26, 1971
  • “Hitchhiking Jaunt Ends in Tragedy,” The Newport Daily News, Tues., Oct. 26, 1971
  • “It Can Happen To Anybody — Girl Hitchhiker Slain,” Associated Press / The Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, Oct. 26, 1971
  • “Body of hitchhiking daughter of Foxboro policeman is found,” The North Adams (MA) Transcript, Oct. 26, 1971
  • “Massachusetts Policeman’s Daughter Found Dead After Hitchhiking Jaunt,” The Nashau (NH) Telegraph, Oct. 26, 1971
  • “Officers Continue Probes,” The Waterloo Daily Courier, Oct. 26, 1971
  • “Seek connection in Iowa deaths,” The Ames Daily Tribune, Oct. 25, 1971
  • “Body Found Near Amana; Woman Missing a Week — Possible Link In Slaying of 3 Others?” by Linda A. Svoboda, The Iowa City Press-Citizen, Mon., Oct. 25, 1971
  • “KAREN STREED’S BODY FOUND: Oskaloosa Woman, 23, Was Shot,” Associated Press / The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, Oct. 25, 1971
  • “Turns Up In Canal In Amanas,” by Staff Writers, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monday, Oct. 25, 1971
  • “Private Search Is Slated for Missing Woman,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Oct. 23, 1971


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11 Responses to Karen Streed

  1. M Palmer says:

    Interestingly detectives are hoping advances in DNA technology will solve her case. They think there’s a small amount of degraded DNA from her killer under her fingernails. However, they’re concerned this will be the last opportunity as they fear it’ll be used up if they do it now.

  2. Diane Garofalo says:

    You are my beautiful, funny, loving big cousin. You have never been forgotten by your very large family back here in MA. We miss you today and have for every day since that horrible moment when we learned that you had disappeared. Your parents were never the same – and your three loving little sisters missed the big sister they adored.
    PLEASE, someone, find a way to solve this crime. This has been our prayer for almost 50 years.

  3. william E says:

    Wow,really,some guy from California with no DL just happens to be there sticking his two cents in,and she came from California, winner winner chicken dinner, there’s your killer,they obviously had a really bad police force at that time,my guess is that guy wasn’t even a suspect gezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

  4. Herb Hunter says:

    It seems like she’s this third victim found in a short period of time in Cedar Rapids. All of them found without their shoes. All of them dumped from a car in a ditch. As for the Karen Streed case: She was found without her boots; she was also missing her poncho and her coat — most likely used to wrap her head in after he shot her; but he took her shoes. Why?

    We see the same pattern in Waverly, both before and after this one.

    Or perhaps it’s all a coincidence that it starts with the girl in Ames found without their shoes, moves to Cedar Rapids and again takes their shoes, then fluctuates between Cedar Rapids, Waverly where he takes all their shoes, and finally at the 218 Marina where he not only burns the crime scene (because he didn’t live or work in the area) but also takes the girls shoes. The shoeless killer we might call him, or the Quarter Moon Bandit since he seems to know his astronomy based on the bodies.

  5. Diana Wilson says:

    Would love these to be on a show.

  6. Somebody knows something

  7. This is very sad. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

  8. Erin says:

    I wouldn’t think this was a serial killer but a man who had followed her from CA… they lived there previously and the police arrested someone driving with CA plates, with no license… and that seems as if he was trying to hide his identity. I also think Mrs. Farley was murdered by a male acquaintance, who thought with her husband incarcerated, she’d welcome his ‘advances’. Most women, well most people, ARE killed by by someone they know after all. Condolences, prayers, hope to all the families!

  9. Jackie D says:

    Why does it read like you had a serial killer or killers down in Iowa in the 1970’s.
    For all these unsolved murders I hope the guilty party is found out. Oh, and I see the writer was Jody E. who went missing. Sounds like there has to be some connection.

  10. Jackie D says:

    Why does it read like you had a serial killer or killers down in Iowa in the 1970’s.
    For all these unsolved murders I hope the guilty party is found out.

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