Lisa Peak

Marie “Lisa” Peak (Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Marie “Lisa” Peak


Marie “Lisa” Peak
19 YOA
Waverly, IA
Bremer County
September 7, 1976


Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On Tuesday, September 7, 1976 — the day after Labor Day — Marie “Lisa” Peak was found lying face down in a ditch in rural Bremer County, Iowa.

The 19-year-old Wartburg College sophomore had been sexually assaulted and, according to autopsy findings, died of suffocation and a broken neck.

None of Peak’s clothing was found at the scene.

Her nude and beaten body was located around 11 a.m. under a lone cottonwood tree beside a gravel road near the John Anhalt farm a quarter mile north of Waverly’s city limits.

Peak, the daughter of Knoxville veterinarian and former city councilman Dr. Frank Peak and Mary Peak, was majoring in journalism at Wartburg College in Waverly, where summer vacation had just ended. Peak returned to the campus on Sunday, September 5.

Bremer County in Iowa
Bremer County in Iowa
Waverly in Bremer CountyWaverly in Bremer County

Friends last saw Peak the next afternoon when Peak said she was going shopping at the Willow Lawn Shopping Center in Waverly. When she didn’t return to her dorm to go on a scheduled date, the friends reported her missing.

Earlier in the year, Peak had provided information to authorities regarding a sensational sex and extortion scheme. The information led to the arrest of 40-year-old used car salesman John Joseph Carmody, Jr., of Mason City, Iowa. Carmody had blackmailed more than a dozen women into having sex with him, using threats of mafia retaliation if they refused.

FBI officials later proved Carmody’s claims to mafia connections were false. In May 1976 Carmody pleaded guilty to rape and extortion and was sentenced to 40 years at Fort Madison’s Iowa State Penitentiary. Peak had spent her May term working as a reporter for the Clarksville Star.

Peak and Iowa writer Chuck Offenburger had planned to write a book about the blackmail scheme, and on August 23 had written Carmody of their plans. The week before Peak’s murder, Offenburger received a letter from Ted Enabnit — a Mason City attorney who represented Carmody in the court proceedings — stating “Mr. Carmody and his professional writer associates are and will produce the appropriate literary work to tell Mr. Carmody’s story from the mass of accumulated materials” (Offenburger, The Des Moines Register, Sept. 9, 1976).

Offenburger said Peak had received threats after Carmody’s imprisonment from women who said they loved [Carmody] and wanted to marry him (Tri-City Herald, WA, Sept. 10, 1976).

Julie Benning

Julie Benning

Many wondered if Peak’s murder might be connected to two other Waverly homicides.

Julie Ann Benning of rural Clarksville disappeared from Waverly the day after Thanksgiving in 1975. In March 1976, a Butler County road maintenance worker found the 18-year-old’s nude and decomposed body in a roadside ditch just six miles from where Peak’s body would later be dumped. Benning had also been strangled.

Valerie Klossowsky

Valerie Klossowsky

A third unsolved murder occurred five years earlier when the partially clad body of Valerie Lynn Klossowsky, 14, was found south of Waverly. She, too, had been strangled.

On May 7, 2010, state and Bremer County officials exhumed Lisa Peak’s body with hopes of discovering new evidence by re-examining the body. Advancements in DNA technology had come a long way since Peak’s murder, and Bremer County Attorney Kasey Earl Wadding felt any further evidence collected might produce a DNA profile of Peak’s killer and possibly help close the case.

“You can recover evidence after a long period of time,” Wadding said.

Wadding couldn’t be certain whether the examination by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and State Medical Examiner’s Office would provide any new hard leads, but acknowledged the possibility that evidence could still exist.

On July 22, 2010, detectives announced that Peak’s coffin was too broken down and her body too deteriorated to preserve her killer’s DNA.

Lisa Peak’s murder remains unsolved.

lisa-peak-gravestone-findagraveCourtesy photo Ron Steenhoek,
Lisa Peak is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville, Iowa, in Marion County.
About Lisa Peak

Marie “Lisa” Peak was born December 10, 1956, to Dr. Frank and Mary V. (Scrivner) Peak.

She was named after her Aunt Ann Marie Scrivner.

Her father enjoyed calling her “Maria” because he had lived in Mexico for some time and, according to Lisa’s sister Meredith, enjoyed using Hispanic derivatives of his children’s names. This term of endearment is reflected on Lisa’s headstone.

In addition to her parents, Lisa was survived by four siblings: Peter (14), Carmen (12), Martin (10), and Meredith (7).

She was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville, Iowa.

Just two months after Lisa’s death, Carmen, a seventh grade student, died of head injuries after one of her riding horses fell on her.

In the years that followed, both of Lisa’s parents died without ever knowing who killed their daughter or seeing justice served in her death.

Dr. Frank “Doc” Peak passed away Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at the West Ridge Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Knoxville.

Lisa’s mother, Mary Peak, died Dec. 8, 2014 in Knoxville at age 85.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Lisa Peak’s unsolved murder — or that of Julie Benning or Valerie Klossowsky — please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (712) 258-1920, or contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email



Copyright © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

57 Responses to Lisa Peak

  1. Kelly S. says:

    Any way these could be the work of Ted Bundy? His victims were often around college campuses.

  2. Michael Stevens says:

    Even though the girls died at different ages in different years they were all basically the same age probably in the same class being born in either 56 or 57 which would probably put them in the class of 75. I would start by looking at boys in that same class or a year either way a year forward or back most likely a local who knew all three woman at least casually. Being that age myself I know that a lot of years have passed since then, I’d start by seeing who went down an obviously bent path and start there…

  3. Andrea says:

    Is that John Joseph Carmody puke at all related to Mark Carmody of Sturgeon Bay? That particular puke molested numerous Sturgeon Bay kids back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and got away with it. Not one freaking Sturgeon Bay parent did their job.

  4. Faith Richter says:

    I remember Marie “Lisa” Peak, her tragic death, and when she was found September 7, 1976. I was a Freshman at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa in 1976 living in Hebron Dorm. I will never forget.

    • Teri Roush says:

      I am a Wartburg alum and knew Lisa – we were both from the same hometown as well as at Wartburg at the same time. I will never forget her or that tragic day,
      and hearing what had happened. I continue to hope and pray that someday, somehow, her case will be solved.

  5. bea meyer says:

    I am a former Waverly resident. I believe the spelling of the name is Garbes, and I did know those boys. I am thinking they were close to my age. There was also a pharmacist in Waverly who was supposed to be having an affair/affairs and it was speculated he may have done this. He did suggest my friend who was 17 meet him at a secluded place after work. She worked for him. Of course, she did refuse.

    • Delphine says:

      It can’t be Bryan and Brett Garbes, who lived on Shell Rock. They were both born in 1962 and 1961 respectively. Ten years when Valerie died. Neither of them could have the strength to commit this crime. Wrong way. Did the pharmacist in question work for Meyer Pharmacy on 10th West Bremer Street? How old was he? This pharmacy is only a few hundred meters from the Sir Lounge, where Julia Ann Benning had worked.

      • bea meyer says:

        The Garbes boys were in my class and would have been born in the mid to late 40’s. The pharmacist in question worked downtown Waverly at the time. He may have transferred to the store on West Bremer, I had moved by that time. I had friends in high school that worked for him, but none for very long. They said he would get very suggestive to them and wanted to be alone with them. This freaked them out and they did not stay on the job. He was suspect in this case, but due to his community standing, I doubt anyone wanted to pursue it. Small town politics at work.

        • Sarah says:

          It cannot be Brett & Bryan Garbes. They are not old enough.

          Source: My grandmother, who gave birth to them in the 60’s. They are both my uncles.

  6. Kim says:

    I apologize if this double-posts, my browser is kind of having hiccups right now and I’m not sure if the first post went through or not. Anyway, KWWL did a news story tonight about Lisa’s case:

    • Jody Ewing says:

      No problem, Kim! I watched the video from the 26th and then saw the other (extended one) online last night, and find it incredibly sad that so much that’s known is not shared by the media; it isn’t a question of media not doing their jobs (they do the very best with what they have), but rather that so much info that’s known (and all the connections, looking sort of like a Rand-McNally road atlas) simply can’t yet be released to the public. Arresting just one person in Lisa’s case could set off a domino effect with the possibility of solving perhaps 10 to 11 cases. So many eastern Iowa unsolved cases trace back to connections with the very same individuals.

      At least when the first witness crumbles and gives up other names, the DCI and FBI will have their hands full with many other additional arrests, and the connections/names/towns/colleges/college departments/other states/churches will quickly fall into place as one organized crime unit begins to implode.

      • Kim says:

        Yeah, I definitely think Lisa’s case is connected with Julie Benning’s and Valerie Klossowsky’s cases. It’d be interesting to know if the 4 year gap between Valerie’s case and Julie’s case coincided with the main suspect possibly being overseas in the service. It’s so sad that these cases have gone for so long without being solved and the killer/s has gotten away all this time with murder.

  7. Kim says:

    KWWL did a news story tonight about Lisa’s case:

  8. Charlie Homrighouse says:

    Has Mike Moses been considered for these crimes?

  9. Teri says:

    If anyone has any more recent info or news on this case, I would like to know. I was a friend of Lisa’s and knew her father. I will never forget this case and continue to hope that the murderer will be brought to justice in my lifetime.

  10. Pat Mcnamara says:

    Get the da for the brothers mentioned

  11. A pair of brothers were mentioned on the web site in the comment section. I wonder if their DNA is in the system.

  12. they do that they get the mentality of..I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT…and they hurt and kill to maintain that control…

  13. Christina Green-luedtke, no, none of the three was pregnant when killed.

    • i have not witnessed cults or people like extracting fetuses from females yet IT DOES/IS happening..its not a worshipping thing its more like a CONTROL thing..very scary humans out there…my mothers husband the man on my birth certificate was a very dangerous sociopath…james stuart green..may 19,195_..i just always knew he snuck in and kilt his ex wifes baby boy..they said it was crib death….bad bad people

  14. I can believe that answer from yesterday Iowa Cold Cases.

  15. any of these woman pregnant or new mothers

  16. I had never heard of any suspects. There’s so much even the media doesn’t tell you…

  17. Sarah Stuelke, if some of us (and there are many) have the correct suspect in mind, he indeed still lives there. Thrives on adulation and attaboys while manipulating / ruining many lives behind the scenes. He has dedicated sheep who’ve cleaned up after him for 40 years.

  18. I bet that bast*ard still lives there and lives a jolly life.

  19. Meg Sibert-Hammis, were guys living in Waverly yet when this all happened?

  20. Tom Sellen says:

    Tragic anniversary but important Lisa is remembered.

  21. tom sellen says:

    Hi Becki,
    Could you expand on what you remember about Carmody, especially since he lived in your household for a time? What was he like? What did he look like back then? Just trying to put together a fuller picture of him.
    Tom Sellen

    • Jody Ewing says:

      I’d posted a link but it was quite long and didn’t work after my comment appeared. I recommend visiting:

    • Becki Tompkins says:

      Tom, I was ten at the time. When I think about that time in my life, and all the years after, I realize that to get into describing “Jack”, as we called him, in this blog, would not begin to give you a picture of who he was. When I read that he and his attorneys had declined comment for a book, I figured as much. All of the horrific crimes that he has done, (to me, child molestation is horrific, as well as murder), he still gets to choose what he wants. There is a story there, but not to get into here.
      Thank you and I would be willing to help if I can.

  22. Jessica Perkins says:

    If theres anyone around there that might remember those boys it could be worth asking about. My mom was only around 8 yrs old in 75′ but she thinks one of their first names might have been brian. Ive tried google to see if got anything from last name but Im on here from a cheap phone that doesnt cooperate all that well…

  23. Danny says:

    I have been working with Robert, and we have a theory about these cases. We believe that the killer knew Valerie, either as a long-time acquaintance or a family friend. He was probably 2 years older and had a car to drive. We believe that Valerie knew him well enough to get in the car with him, but did not intend to travel too far or be gone too long, as she did not say anything to her friend and left her things behind intending to return shortly to the pool. He would not have known Valerie from school, necessarily because of the age difference, she being in 8th grade and him in 10th. Also, he killed Valerie with such force that he broke her voice box. Very passionate about Valerie since he knew her well and she probably had been turning him down for a long time, or he was admiring of her for a long time. The murder was during summer break, so he would not have been in school.

    When it comes to Julia, she was 18 (and only born a few months before Valerie) at the time and out of high school. He would have been 20-21, and likely was a patron of the bar where she worked. The drinking age in Iowa then was 18. She would have possibly trusted him enough to accept a ride to work. He was probably making advances toward her, possibly, and she had been turning him down. We think that he did not know Julia as well as he knew Valerie, but became very aggravated when she turned him down, so he raped and killed her. We think that he was probably a college student, since the murder occured during a break/holiday weekend.

    With Lisa, he knew her the least, but maybe had met her when she was in college or more likely when she was working in Clarksville at the newspaper. In these small towns surrounding Waverly, people do get to know each other. Somehow, she was also familiar enough with him to probably accept a ride. (It is about a mile from campus to Willow Lawn). Lisa was 2 DAYS difference in birthdate from Julia. Again, he made advances toward her, she turned him down, and paid the price?? This was Labor Day, so if he was in college, he would have likely still been home in the area. Did the murders stop because he went away to school, graduated, and moved away? We do not think that he knew Lisa as well as Valerie at all, and probably less that Julia. Was his anger still, ultimately, directed at Valerie?

    This reminds me of the case in Sycamore, IL recently where a murdered was obvious but overlooked for 50 years and finally convicted. He got away because he was “too obvious”.

    By the way, I was playing just down the road (9 years old) when Valerie was found and it could have just as easily been us that found her. I remember seeing the imprint in the weeds next the creek where her body was found. It stayed there the rest of the summer. Also, my dorm room at Wartburg had been Lisa’s when she was killed, so I have always had an interest in these unsolved cases. We are going to Waverly this week, and hope to do some research at the library and talk to a few friends of Valerie’s.

  24. Jessica says:

    Trying to go by my moms memory to try and estimate how old they would have been… I wasnt born until 83, I remembered hearing stories about this when I was a kid living in Waverly and got curious so looked up the real story. When I read it to my mom these boys are the first people that popped into her head. Were thinking that around 1975 they would have been in their late teens and were definitely driving. They were muscular boys and being that there were two of them could have probably overpowered a young woman even if she was just a tad older. They also lived in shellrock at some point and would have been pretty familiar with the area. It seems they were around valeries age when she was killed and around julie and lisas also when they were killed. I was also thinking given the age differences on victims and timeline it does make sense if the perp was young to begin with and went after a victim around their age and as they grew older so did their choice in victims…

    • Robert says:

      I wonder where they are today. Weird you say shellrock because that is where Valerie went to school I believe.

      They fit the bill for every single aspect I thought they would. I had always thought- teen, living near the shopping center, muscular ( just the manor in which they were strangled.), and driving.

      I wonder if they were looked at or just brushed off for being too young.

  25. Jessica says:

    There were 2 of them, I know for a fact they raped a girl in their neighborhood… I think its Garbis, a b, not a v, but still unsure how rest of name was spelled.

  26. Jessica says:

    Not to possibly falsely accuse someone, just throwing out a possibility… Anyone ever check out the Garvis ?sp boys? I know of someone they raped back in those days and Im thinking they were around Valeries age when she was murdered which would also place them close to Lisa and Julies ages when they were murdered. They lived only a couple blocks away from the shopping center.

    • Robert says:

      How old were these boys at the time?

      The thing that strikes me most odd is the fact that older individuals were looked at mostly. I think it was a 18-23 year old man. Think about it. Valerie was born in 1957. At the time was in her early teens.
      The other two were born in 1956. The reason I picked the ages of 18-23 is that the person could still be growing. The victims he seeks get older as he also gets older. I personally think he is younger than depicted.
      Also he could have gotten his first home or car therefor enabling him to be able to finally kill like he has wanted to for years. I think it is odd for someone to start to kill people if he has already had the assets to do so.
      I really wish I could work on the case. Maybe I can get an internship at the waverly PD in a few years!

  27. benjamin harbor says:

    what was lisa date of birth. my research depends on this information.

    thank you benjamin harbor

    • Meredith (Peak) van Benthuysen says:

      Lisa’s DOB was: 12/10/56

      • tom sellen says:


        Does anyone know if Mr. Carmody is still alive and if so where he is living?


        • Jody Ewing says:


          John Carmody is still alive and lives in Cherokee, Iowa.


          • tom sellen says:

            Thanks Jody. Wonder if anyone’s tried to contact or talk to him about the case recently.

          • btomprn1 says:

            I did not know about these murder cases. I knew him as Jack, he was a car salesman and lived in our house when I was 10 after released from jail for sexual related charges.
            He is in his 70’s, but he has not changed. He is still an antisocial, narcissistic sexual predator. I too would like to know if they found any more out when they exumed her remains. If any one has any information, that would be appreciated.

            Thank you,

      • tom sellen says:

        Meredith, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t say I empathize because I have nothing to compare with Lisa’s murder. Just wanted you to know people are thinking about Lisa and your family.
        Tom Sellen

      • carolkean says:

        Julie’s DOB was 12/12/56. Small world.

        • Jody Ewing says:

          Small world, indeed! These two young women shared not only birth dates within two days, but were killed in the same manner and dumped within a few miles of each other. Too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence?

    • Robert says:

      I too have research on this case. I would love to see any more information and get more thoughts into my work.

  28. J. S. Evans says:

    I am interested in any information in followup to Lisa’s exhumation in 2010. DNA evidence was to be examined in her cold case. I was the last person she dated before leaving Knoxville for school and I never heard from her again. I’ve always wondered if her case was related to the book and investigation she was working on.

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