leota-camp-indiv Courtesy photo Brenda (Camp) Conklin
Leota Camp

Leota Camp

Homicide

Leota Camp
25 YOA
3213 Flemming Ave.
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Case # 1967-10836
July 10, 1967

Case summary by Jody Ewing

The drizzling began the night before, and by 1 a.m. on Monday, July 10, 1967, the low rumbling thunder gave way to light rain across the sleeping city.

The day would break at 69 degrees with drizzle turning to fog, and inside a neat, one-story home with blue-gray asbestos siding in Des Moines, Iowa, Raymond Camp, 25, would kiss his wife goodbye and head off for his job as a tabulating equipment operator for the Iowa Employment Security Commission.

Leota Camp with children Kevin, Brenda, and baby Kristine Courtesy photo Brenda (Camp) Conklin
Leota Camp with children Kevin, Brenda, and baby Kristine in April 1967.

Leota Camp, also 25, had given birth to the couple’s third child, daughter Kristine, three months earlier, and the days teemed with activity as she tended to the baby and kept a watchful eye on their two older children, 4-year-old Kevin and 3-year-old Brenda, at their 3213 Flemming Ave. home.

On this day, the clouds finally cleared by mid-morning, and Kevin and Brenda went outside to play in the back yard. A little while later, their mother came out to check on them and hang clothing on the clothesline. With temperatures heading for the high 80s, the baby’s diapers and kids’ clothing would be dry in no time.

Just after 12:00 p.m., the two youngsters went back inside, and though “Baby Kristy” lay nursing a warm bottle of milk on a white blanket on the living room floor, their mother was nowhere to be seen.

“Mommy’s Bleeding”

The two children found her in the home’s front bedroom, lying face down on the bed. Blood soaked the bed around her and a knife protruded from her back. Kevin removed the knife and the two children then ran crying to the next-door neighbor’s home.

“Mommy’s bleeding,” they told Mrs. Mary Groe of 3209 Flemming.

Mrs. Groe ran to the Camp home, saw Mrs. Camp on the bed, and rushed out the door calling for Mrs. Nelle Edwards — the Camps’ neighbor to the west who lived at 3215 Flemming — who was out in her front yard. The two women raced back to the Camp home, where Mrs. Edwards went into the bedroom to see what had happened.

Ray Camp with daughter KristineCourtesy photo Brenda (Camp) Conklin
Ray Camp with infant daughter Kristine, taken prior to Leota’s murder.

Leota lay face down, fully clothed in a blouse, skirt and shoes, her arms crossed and tied behind her back with a necktie. Neckties also bound her neck and ankles, and a necktie had been stuffed into her mouth as a gag.

The blood-stained six-inch kitchen knife used to stab the young mother lay on the bed beside her. According to Mrs. Edwards, Leota moaned, but wasn’t able to answer any questions.

A fire department rescue squad administered artificial respiration for seven minutes on the way to Broadlawns Polk County Hospital, but pronounced Mrs. Camp DOA.

Officials summoned Raymond Camp at work and asked he meet them at the hospital, where they notified him of his wife’s death.

A White Man in a Black Ford Mustang

Dr. Leo Luka, Polk County medical examiner, said Camp had been stabbed four times in the back and that the wounds had penetrated her lungs. She died, he said, of internal hemorrhaging, and there was no evidence she had been raped or sexually molested. Luka would later say he believed Mrs. Camp was slain by “a kook or pervert who got scared and panicked.”

Leota Camp in 1965 with Brenda and Kevin on horseCourtesy photo Brenda Conklin
Leota Camp was a Christian woman who dedicated her life to her family. Here she is in 1965 with daughter Brenda and son Kevin.

Des Moines Police said the wounds were inflicted by two different knives from a kitchen set: the one found on the bed beside Mrs. Camp, and another of which police found the blade but not the knife’s handle.

Neighbors described to police a young white handsome man who had parked his car — a black Ford Mustang with louvers behind the doors — about a house and a half away from the Camp’s home about 11 a.m. He had a good tan, they said, was approximately 20 to 25 years old, 5′ 8″ to 5′ 10″ tall with brown, curly hair, was stockily built and wearing a brown and white plaid shirt and dark trousers.

They said the man cut diagonally across the Camp’s front yard and then entered the home. Another neighbor said he saw the man leave a few minutes before noon.

Sketch of suspect in Leota Camp homicide
Courtesy photo Des Moines Register
Sketch of the suspect based on descriptions neighbors provided to police.

Luka believed the killer entered the home around noon while Mrs. Camp hung clothes in the back yard. When she came back into the house quicker than expected, she likely “walked into trouble,” he said, and the intruder probably threatened harm to her baby if she screamed or struggled.

Luka stated there were no signs of a physical struggle, no marks, bruises, or scratches on Mrs. Camp, and that nothing had been noted as missing from the home.

Suspect Sketch Released

Neighbors helped Detective Robert Weichman compile a composite sketch of the young man seen entering and leaving the Camp home, and within the first four days after the murder received approximately 500 calls with tips.

Cleatus M. LeamingCourtesy photo David Dearinger, findagrave.com
Des Moines Chief of Detectives Cleatus M. Leaming

“We would like to talk with this man in the event he saw anything,” Des Moines Chief of Detectives Cleatus M. Leaming said in a Des Moines Register article dated July 12, 1967. “We’re digging just as hard and as fast as we can on this murder.”

Investigators also followed up on 1965 or 1966 “fastback” Ford Mustangs with louvers on the vehicle’s upper portion behind the doors.

On July 14, 1967, the Des Moines Register reported that Mrs. Camp had received an obscene telephone call a few weeks prior to her death. Raymond Camp told the Register his wife received the anonymous call “about one and a half or two weeks before the Fourth of July,” and that when she answered, a man asked, “Where you been?”

Thinking it might be a friend kidding her, Leota told the caller she’d been feeding the baby, to which he replied “I thought maybe you were … [an obscene expression],” Camp told authorities.

Ray Camp with son Kevin and daughter Brenda shortly after Leota's deathCourtesy photo Brenda Conklin
Ray Camp with son Kevin and daughter Brenda shortly after Leota’s slaying.

Their home phone number, Mr. Camp said, wasn’t even in the phone book so they thought some nut dialed it by mistake, and there had been no further calls.

On August 16, Raymond Camp offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for his wife’s death. The reward was valid until Feb. 18, 1968, and though police received a handful of calls, none led to an arrest.

More than four decades later, Mr. Camp and his three grown children continue to wait for the one call that will lead to closure in a loving wife and mother’s still unsolved murder.

About Leota Camp
Ray and Leota Camp, 1963Courtesy photo Brenda (Camp) Conklin
Ray and Leota Camp, 1963

Leota Mae (Hodges) Camp was born January 20, 1942, in Kirksville, Adair County, Missouri, to Mrs. and Mrs. Forest Hodges.

She married Raymond Camp, and the couple had three children — son Kevin and daughters Brenda and Kristine.

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 13, at the Church of Christ in Unionville, Mo.

Burial was at Scobee Cemetery in Pollock, Missouri, in Sullivan County.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about Leota Camp’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864 or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email at dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

Sources:

 

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25 Responses to Leota Camp

  1. Don says:

    We lived in this neighborhood when I was nine years old and I remember this event well. We heard the Police sirens and saw the ambulance arrive. As kids do, we stood and watched as the Police looked through the bushes and in the storm drains near the house. This was a time when most mothers were stay at home and several stood with us kids keeping us from getting too close. The Police talked to all the neighbors as I remember. The fear in the neighborhood was very real. Several neighbors ended up with dogs. Whenever we saw a green fastback Mustang we ran for the house until it drove on (it was a popular make of car lol). Oddly, several neighbor ladies (my mom included) had recieved obscene phone calls prior to this. Some recieved the calls after. It was a major reason we moved from this neighborhood. It was rumored that whoever did the murder was arrested in another state on another crime and Iowa wasn’t going to bring him back for trial. I think someone made it up to lessen the fear after this event.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Thank you for writing, Don. I can only imagine what this must have been like for you and the other neighborhood kids. I’ve not heard anything about the perp being arrested for another crime, though it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; in fact, that very thing happens a whole lot more often than people might think. I can’t imagine Iowa “not” extraditing him to stand trial here if they were convinced he was responsible, but it’s never too late, even if he’s been released and still out there somewhere. We can only hope someone who knows something will eventually come forward. Thanks again for writing.

  2. Andrea Lea Olmanson says:

    Are any of the ligatures still in evidence? If so, they can now be tested for touch DNA. I was recently able to identify an adoptee’s birth-father by #1 running his Y-STR values through Ysearch.org and then finding an associated FTDNA Y-chromosome project, and #2 putting together the family trees of his autosomal matches (all like 4th-8th cousins, including myself– I as it turns out am his 8th cousin and we share a sufficiently measurable amount of DNA) until I found the commonality.

    It was rather tedious work and it took me a couple hundred hours, but in the end it panned out, to the apparent mortification of the bio-father who evidently never told his wife that he’d had a child before they met and married and who evidently never envisioned back in 1964 that in 2014 his distant cousins’ Y chromosomes and autosomal DNA would expose his secret.

    This same technology can be used to ID perpetrators of crimes, and I cannot fathom why only New York and California are the states just beginning to use it. If someone like me (degrees in the humanities, not sciences) can figure out how to successfully ID an unknown person by genetic matches who are estimated to be 4th to 5th cousins, then law enforcement should be able to to it. Heck, I’m running some of my searches on a database where tens of thousands of people have donated, and the service is run by volunteers, operated on a somewhat slow server in a residential neighborhood in Texas. If volunteers operating on a shoestring budget can set up something as fruitful and functional and operational as gedmatch, why won’t law enforcement use it?

    If the ligatures are still in evidence somewhere, there is absolutely no justification for law enforcement not using the technology that genealogists/genetic genealogists like myself have been using for the past several years.

    Heck, I’d even be willing to donate five hundred bucks toward the Y-STR analysis at a private lab if Iowa Cold Cases would be willing to try to get law enforcement to do this.

  3. I pray for justice. My heart breaks for her and the children. God Bless all of them.

  4. Prayers to her family.

  5. Adam says:

    I know who killed Leota Camp – he was sketched. I would be more then willing to help. The perp is dead – died in prison – the story of his arrest and incarceration and his trail of rape, murder and mayhem defy was unprecedented in American history. I can help the family if they want to reach out to me.

  6. Don says:

    I think we all would like to know. Can you name him if he is dead?

  7. Adam says:

    Don, I do not in any way mean to frustrate, or obstruct – I see that the family has posted in facebook threads above. Once named many other things will likely unfold – law enforcement arrested him in Maryland in 68 tried him and let him off on a technicality – therefore mugshots of him exist at that time – that’s how I know it was him.
    Please know that I strongly prefer to have contact with the family about revealing the perpetrator. I have many reasons for this – one of them is to be maximally helpful to them (if they want that) in unpacking why justice was not served for them in this case. Also as I said in a previous post – perpetrator died in prison 2011.

  8. Adam says:

    OK – I decided to reveal the perpetrator…

    James Mitchell DeBardeleben – here is a youtube – go to 55:25 minute mark of the video to see the mugshot of him circa 1966 – PG County Maryland.

    Also there is a book written on him by Michaud ( guy wrote a book on Bundy too) – its called Beyond Cruel.

    Leota was not DeBardeleben’s first murder victim ( it seemed the FBI believe he was murdering in 1965 and I believe I know who that victim was) and not his last in Iowa.

    Here is sketched again in another Iowa cold case – better sketch because of psychosexual bizarre murders of realtors – the realtors husband actual met the perpetrator before he did the ctime – hence the perfect sketch – https://iowacoldcases.org/case-summaries/dorothy-miller/

    Also as you research DeBardeleben you will see his penchant for using the phone to commit his crimes.

    DeBardeleben was named “the worse serial criminal in US history” – he was – in my research – the worse serial killer in US history.

    Fact: Leota Camps’ murderer very likely could have been identified and indicted and convicted in 1976 – I can show how – again in 1983 and after…

    Why wasn’t he? How did he escape this justice?

    I can help the family if they care to know more.

  9. Adam says:

    Here’s the youtube – again go to 55:25 mark to see the mugshot.

  10. Don says:

    DeBardeleben is a possible perpetrator. I wasn’t aware he had died.

  11. Adam says:

    The Iowa police created a sketched composite of him….So I would say he’s your guy…Also the rest of the crime fits his M.O. too. And the Dorothy Miller case shows him back in Iowa (sketched again) murdering in 1969 – DeBardeleben in 1983 was indicted for murdering two realtors (one Bossier City Louisiana 1982 and another in 1971 RI)…When the Secret Service caught him the 2nd time in 1983 they found a script describing word for word that DBLN wrote about how he did realtor murders. That’s how Barrington RI police connected the dots…He filled out forms at the time of the murders and they connected him through that as well – they KNOW he did identical murders…I have at least 7 more beyond that of real estate agents – that make 10 realtors that I know of…

    His Leota Camp murder was the 2nd of a series (that I know of) of what I termed “the good mothers” murders…He would knock on the door and attempt to vanish the mother – but sometimes if it failed – he would murder her in the home…

    What did the authorities know and when did they know it? Why was justice not served in this case? Why has it taken some random commenter (me) nearly 50 years later to name the murderer? What is going on here?

    • Brenda Conklin says:

      Adam, I am interested in hearing what you have to say. However I will not give out personal contact information to a stranger. Please understand my concern for protecting myself and my family. I will consult with Jody Ewing and others on the appropriate way to handle this process.

  12. Brenda says:

    Who are you Adam? Are you a crime researcher, have some connection to law enforcement? Why are you following this serial killer and these crimes? You seem to have a lot of knowledge about this….I need to know you’re not some crazy person!

    • Adam says:

      First of all Brenda – my heart felt sympathies for you and your family for having suffered so much in this senseless crime.
      This is me: adamklein.net
      Please call the Maryland Board of Psychology to verify my good standing as a licensed psychologist in the state of maryland.
      Then contact me through my website. You can email me through the message board (although yahoo email addresses are somehow blocked from transmitting to me right now – VCita is clearing that up soon hopefully). If you have a yahoo email account then call me on the listed numbers and I will call you back.

  13. Adam says:

    Yes she did. We had a phone conversation. There are legal certainties – that will never be established in this case – and there are other kinds of “knowing”. The Camp family had the worse most senseless psychopathic violence lived out on them – I wondered, wished, hoped that naming DeBatrdeleben might create some kind of possibilities in healing.my heart goes out to Brenda and the Camp family.

    • Raymond Camp says:

      Adam,

      I’m Raymond Camp, Leota Camp’s husband, and Brenda’s father. I recently looked over what you presented as identifying the individual. Nothing here that I can see ties this individual to Leota in any way. Certainly the individual was very crazy but if the sketch and the fact that he was in Iowa at some point in time is all you are looking at, that is nuts. Might as well use a dart board. Do you have something you have not provided?

  14. Adam says:

    Raymond,

    I am not here to be “right”. I spent an enormous amount of time researching DBLN. The woman who created these Iowa cold case web pages did a fantastic job. Your deceased wife had a composite photo attached to the crime at the time of the murder. The face that was sketched turned out to be that of a man who was a very prolific serial killer. He was also known to use the telephone to create misdirections, ruses, scams, ransoms. He was also known to use the kind of language suggested on the crime page related to prank calling the family. in other cases related to him he was known to call neighbors as part of his crimes – as again suggested in the follow up notes where a former neighbor of yours reported that his family too received prank calls of similar nature.

    As you stated your deceased wife did not know DBLN – and that was likely true as far as she knew – He may have tracked her in some psycho-sexual way as has been documented as part of his crime behaviors in relation to his desired victims. The overwhelming majority of the known DBLN crimes were stranger crimes – that is the victims had no connection in any way with him until being victimized.

    As a rule, the victims of serial killers often times have no connection with their killer prior to the crimes perpetrated. If you read the book by Stephen Michaud “Beyond Cruel” on DeBardeleben and or watch the 100 minute A&E documentary on DeBardeleben you will come to know that DBLN had many many murder victims. I recommend reaching out to Michaud http://www.stephenmichaud.com/ who saw all of DBLN’s evidence from trials related to DBLN’s 1983 arrests. Also Michaud may help you have contact with the retired FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood. Hazelwood was filmed going through the evidence in the A&E documentary – he handled and consulted on all the evidence in the DBLN cases.

    I reached out to both related to a different case. Both may be highly responsive to you because you are a direct relative of a victim. I am sorry for your loss. I appreciate and respect your skepticism about the veracity of the suggestion that DBLN was the perpetrator of heinous crime. I hope that you get closure.

    • Rebha Inham says:

      to all that may hae somethin to say so do I I kow you may not like thins oin the way they do ut Steven Killher her and it may have taken many years or al to come to Light but i am very satisfied that he will now pay for his action and takin the life of a beautiful person and a reat friend o mine that helped me through a very rough time in my life so i hope he ROTTS… Karma is back to take from him what he took from Susan and the hell he put her children throuh .He may not be killed but he will suffer one hell of alot atleast i hope to god he does

    • Raymond Camp says:

      Adam,
      Thanks for your prompt and thought full response.

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