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Early Thursday, April 10, 1969, Iowa Highway Patrol officers discovered the body of 56-year-old Leo Joseph Smith — a veteran who served with the 749th Military Police Battalion during World War II — at the Highway 20 rest area about 30 miles east of Sioux City in Woodbury County, Iowa. Smith’s throat had been cut.
Later that same day, two girls found an unidentified man under a truck in northeast Sioux City’s industrial area. That man’s throat also had been slashed, leading authorities to first believe the two murders may be connected. The following day, however, a 35-year-old Pittsburgh steel worker was arrested and charged in the unidentified man’s homicide.
Officials were unable to connect the Pittsburgh man with Smith’s murder, which remains unsolved.
During its two-year tenure from 2009-2011, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Cold Case Unit included Smith’s homicide as one of 150 cold cases they hoped to solve using advancements in DNA 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.
Leo Joseph Smith was born on April 30, 1912.
Memorial services were held April 14, 1969 at Gill Memorial Funeral Home in Wilton, Iowa, with Father John Kennedy officiating. American Legion Post 585 conducted gravesite rites at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilton, Muscatine County, Iowa, where Smith was buried.
If you have any information about Leo Smith’s unsolved murder, please contact the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office at 712-279-6010.