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On Thursday night, Valentine’s Day 1974, Louis Dale Reed, Sr., was killed by a 410 shotgun blast to the chest inside a shack at Reed’s Auto Salvage, a salvage yard Reed operated at 2800 Liberty Ave. on Clinton’s south side. Reed also had a shotgun wound to his left arm.
The 53-year-old grandfather, who resided at 814 Roosevelt St. in Clinton, was known to regularly carry large amounts of cash on him, but neither his cash nor any other items were taken.
In a Clinton Herald article dated February 15, 1974, Police Chief Wayne Wilke said Reed had been shot at close range. Clinton County Medical Examiner Dr. J. J. Young pronounced Reed dead at the scene.
Wilke, who said police had nothing concrete concerning a suspect, told reporters it was “too soon to make any presumptions” on whether the shooting was related to a call police received from Reed earlier that day.
Reed had contacted police around 4 p.m., stating that a man driving a light brown truck left his salvage yard with seven radiators without paying for them. Reed told police he could identify the radiators by markings on them and by the makes of vehicles to which they belonged.
Less than six hours after Reed phoned police, he was shot dead.
Around 10 p.m., Reed’s wife, Zepha, called police and said her husband had not returned home from work. Clinton police sent patrolman Peter Postma to the salvage yard, where Postma discovered Reed’s body inside the shack.
Detectives investigating the crime scene worked throughout the night and into the next day, but did not uncover any weapon.
Reed’s body was taken to the Snell-Smith Funeral Home in Clinton Thursday night, where Dr. Young performed an autopsy. Young placed Reed’s time of death as Thursday night sometime between 8:20 p.m. and 9 p.m., and cause of death as a shotgun blast.
Following her husband’s murder, Mrs. Reed reported the couple’s dog, Shaggy, as missing. The dog had been at the salvage yard with Reed but no one had seen him since the slaying.
More than one week later, Mrs. Reed told the Clinton Herald they’d discovered Shaggy hadn’t been missing after all, but had simply gone into hiding:
“We found him way up underneath the car and still on his chain,” she said. “He just didn’t come out for a long time and we assumed he was missing.”
During that same week, police said they had questioned “dozens of people,” but had not yet established a motive or made any arrests.
Strangely enough, Reed’s right-hand man — who seldom left Reed’s side — had burned to death in a house fire just a couple years prior to Reed’s slaying.
Louis Dale Reed was born August 15, 1920, in Homer, Iowa, to Luetta M. Kreinbing and Louis Reed. He was buried at Clinton Memorial Park Cemetery.
If you have any information regarding the unsolved slaying of Louis Dale Reed, please contact the Clinton Police Department at (563) 243-1457.