marlene-padfield-high-school-photo

Courtesy photo Lisbon High School Yearbook
Marlene “Mickey” Padfield as a Junior at Lisbon High School.

Marlene Ruth Padfield

Homicide

Marlene Ruth “Mickey” Padfield
17 YOA
Hometown: Lisbon, IA
Went Missing from: Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
Date Reported Missing: February 19, 1959
Body Found: April 29, 1959

 

On Wednesday evening, February 18, 1959, Marlene Padfield, 17, went to the Kozy Inn restaurant in Cedar Rapids with Arthur Scott Jr., an 18-year-old part-time Coe College student involved in community theater.

Padfield, an aspiring actress, had recently moved from Mount Vernon High School to Lisbon, and after struggling to fit in, had dropped out of school in order to pursue acting roles in Cedar Rapids.

Padfield and Scott left the restaurant sometime after midnight between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m.

The beautiful and talented young woman was never seen alive again.

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

A farmer traveling an isolated dirt road between Cedar Rapids and Mt. Vernon-Lisbon discovered her skeletal remains two months later on April 29, 1959.

Investigators ruled the death a homicide. About 15 people attended the teen’s funeral.

The The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun Dave Morris has been tracking and writing about Ms. Padfield’s case for many years, and in February 2014, the Uptown Theatre at the First Street Community Center in Mount Vernon ran a two-night, sold-out play about Padfield’s life.

“We know she disappeared and was found dead,” said Amy White, writer of the play “Someone Who Knew Her,” in a KCRG-TV9 report that aired Feb. 14, 2014. “There’s no real mystery element of it but a memory play told from the standpoint of someone who knew her.”

White’s play included about a dozen area actors who looked inside Padfield’s brief but troubled life, focusing on her love of acting and the loneliness of not fitting in.

Bob Hill, of Lisbon, told KCRG he began researching the Padfield case a few years ago. He found a human element within her cold case — that of treating people who may be new to a community with a higher level of respect.

“We decided this story would fit into that of a teaching tool,” Hill said of the play. “The behavior is nothing new. It goes on in schools, communities and neighborhoods and we need to talk about it. It’s an issue that nobody wants to talk about.”

Morris’ April 1, 2010 article, “Cold case: More details found, more sought in 1959 death of young woman,” is a well written, thorough and enlightening account of one murder he says is “on the sheriff’s radar.”

Dave Morris’ other articles on the Marlene Padfield unsolved homicide may be found following this feature story.


Cold case: More details found, more sought in 1959 death of young woman

The Mt. Vernon-Lisbon Sun

April 01, 2010 | By Dave Morris

The unexplained death in 1959 of 17-year-old Marlene “Mickey” Padfield of Lisbon is drawing renewed interest following publication of a story in the Sun on March 18.

Beryl O’Connor and Bob Hill of Lisbon have led the push to encourage anyone with any knowledge of the case to step forward, both to preserve and honor the budding actress’ memory and to help solve the cold case.

Col. John Stuelke, chief deputy with the Linn County Sheriff’s Department told The Sun this week that it would just take the right piece of new evidence to revive the department’s investigation.

“It’s always open,” he said. “If there is something new, we’ll move on it.”

At the time of Padfield’s death, it was investigated as a murder, but in technical terms, it is considered a “suspicious death.”

An autopsy was done on Padfield’s body, but the results have never been released, because they are part of the files of what is considered an ongoing investigation. Stuelke referred to the files on the case as “voluminous.”

“They were not able to ascertain a cause of death at the time,” Stuelke said.

Stuelke is supportive of the renewed interest in the case and encourages anyone with any information to come forward.

“Fifty years is a long time to have memories,” said Stuelke, who’s not yet 50 himself. “But we’d be more than happy to follow up on it.”

Padfield, who left Lisbon High School before graduating to work and pursue acting roles in Cedar Rapids, was reported missing around Feb. 18, 1959. Her partially clothed, decomposing body was found about three miles west of Mount Vernon in late April that year. Foul play was suspected, and there were several suspects, but the case remains unsolved.

Following the Sun’s March 18 story, the wife, daughter and son of the late Harry Ackerman, a Linn County Sheriff’s Department detective who investigated the 17-year-old’s death, spoke with O’Connor and Hill to share their recollections.

Hill contacted Stuelke for advice on what it takes to reopen a cold case. Stuelke visited with Hill for a couple hours last week in Lisbon.

“He said murder cases are never closed,” Hill said. “It’s on the sheriff’s radar.”

Hill said he was told to continue seeking publicity, both local and wider, to try to shake loose someone who can provide a crucial memory or bit of evidence that would provide a basis for further investigation.

“We don’t know if a suspect’s alive or not,” Hill said.

O’Connor noted that a Facebook page will be set up for anyone interested in the case.

“It bothers me that there might be people in town who haven’t come forward,” she said.

“We hope someone cares,” Hill added. “If we can find where (Marlene Padfield’s) mother went, where the siblings went … We’re wondering why they left town.” (Marlene’s father died in 1961; information about her mother is unknown.)

“There was a lack of compassion,” said O’Connor, who hopes the passage of more than 50 years might be enough to prompt someone who was either responsible for Padfield’s death or who knew key details to come forward.

Regardless, Hill and O’Connor know that as time passes, the odds of finding a person still alive with a clear memory of the events are getting slimmer.

“It would be interesting to know how the dad died (just two years after Marlene died)” and obtain more information about the family, Hill said. “We don’t know if it was a blended family or not.”

With the case unsolved, it technically is still open, with information from investigative files not open to the public, Hill noted.

“They did their work. They just didn’t have enough (evidence),” Hill said.

Added O’Connor: “Whoever it is … we may never know. There could be 15 endings to this.”

Wrapped into the larger mystery of Padfield’s death are many smaller ones, such as how the young men who served as pallbearers were selected, why the family left town and Padfield’s apparently rocky relationship with her classmates. Plus, there are the mysteries of the current whereabouts of many of those young people she associated with in Cedar Rapids after dropping out of Lisbon High School to work and pursue acting roles.

For now, O’Connor and Hill are considering how an official law enforcement investigation could proceed if there were fresh evidence. Their thoughts range from utilizing the resources of a college criminology class to what could be learned if the victim’s body were exhumed.

When meeting with the family of Detective Ackerman, Hill and O’Connor, who is the director of the Lisbon History Center, were given a copy of Dell’s Front Page Detective magazine from February 1960. It offers a detailed, sometimes setsationalized re-telling of the case. Titled “Where Suspicion Walks The Streets,” it tells of suspects taking and refusing lie detector tests, a dubious confession by an already jailed rapist in Davenport and it re-creates dialogue from when Marlene Padfield’s body was found.

Mysteries, details and developments

A short article from the front page of the Mount Vernon Hawkeye Record/Lisbon Herald in May 1959 reads:

Funeral services for Marlene Ruth Padfield were conducted at the Lisbon Methodist church on Saturday, May 2, at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Eugene Miller, the pastor, in charge. Mrs. Frank Rhoads was organist.

Casket bearers were Marlin Fisher, Peter Radl, Ralph Zahorik, Francis Bolton, Robert Lang and Robert Short. Interment was in Cedar Memorial Park. Arrangements were by Baxter Mortuary.

marlene-padfield-findagrave

Courtesy photo Carla Swieter Ramey & Robert Ramey
Marlene was laid to rest at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.

She was born [Oct. 28, 1941] in Madison, Wis., where she lived until 6. After a year in Tucson the family came to Cedar Rapids and have since resided in this area. The family lived in the house at the Midway on the Marion road for two years while she attended her freshman and sophomore years at Mount Vernon High. Purchasing the Bob Dotzauer house in Lisbon, the family moved there in 1957 and Marlene attended Lisbon high for a year. She dropped out of school last fall and enrolled for a correspondence course to complete high school. Surviving are her parents, an older brother and two sisters.

©2013 Mt. Vernon-Lisbon Sun


Information Needed

If you have any information about Marlene Padfield’s unsolved murder please contact the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at 319-892-6100.

Dave Morris Articles from the Lisbon Sun
Other Sources:
  • ‘Gone Cold’: Marlene Padfield,” Northwest Iowa News, Monday, August 1, 2016
  • Gone Cold: Marlene Padfield, killed in 1959,” Special to the Register, The Des Moines Register, March 19, 2016 (Part of the GONE COLD: EXPLORING IOWA’S UNSOLVED MURDERS series)
  • Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Harry Edelman, January 4, 2015
  • “Some Who Knew Her” — Mount Vernon Theatre Looking at 1959 Cold Case, KCRG-TV9, February 14, 2014
  • Personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Chris Earl, KCRG.com, February 14, 2014
  • Personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Andrea Olmanson, November 19, 2013
  • Personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Alex Whitmer, October 25, 2012
  • Personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Kimberly Frazier, April 13, 2012
  • Personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Vickie Yeager, June 26, 2011
  • Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Skip Shipe, July 2010
  • Personal correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Bob Hill, March 2, 2010
  • Linn County Sheriff’s Office
  • Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Find a Grave Memorial for Marlene Padfield
  • Unsolved Iowa killings: friends ‘still feel scars’,” by Nick Lamberto, The Des Moines Register, Sunday, September 8, 1974
  • List of ‘case open’ slayings in Iowa,” by Nick Lamberto, The Des Moines Register, September 8, 1974
  • The Growing List of Iowa’s Unsolved Murder Cases,” by Nick Lamberto, The Des Moines Register, November 24, 1968
  • Unsolved Slaying Climbing in Iowa,” by Pat Curran, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Wednesday, May 26, 1965
  • Killings go Unsolved: Who Were Their Killers?” by Pat Curran, The Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 26, 1965
  • Unsolved Iowa Murders Defy All Probe Efforts,” by Pat Curran, The Centerville Iowegian, May 26, 1965
  • 5 Years After Finance Official Murdered, Trail Is Stone Cold,” by Jerry Elsea, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thursday, October 15, 1964
  • “Linn’s Baffling Murders,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 28, 1963
  • A Murder Case Is Never Closed,” by Dan Perkes, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Tuesday, August 1, 1961
  • “Padfield, Coste Murders at CR Remain Unsolved,” The Ames Daily Tribune, May 6, 1960
  • “Skirt Identified,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, February 29, 1960
  • Two 1959 Murders Still Unsolved in C.R.,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 3, 1960
  • “Officials Want To Talk More with C. Rapids Youth,” The Oelwein Daily Register, May 15, 1959
  • “No Progress In Probe of Girl’s Death,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 15, 1959
  • “Marlene’s Handbag Is Found,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 14, 1959
  • “Scott Tells New Version on Marlene,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 13, 1959
  • “Marlene Was Anxious To Be Liked by Everyone,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 10, 1959
  • “Marlene Roomed In C.R. a Month,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 10, 1959
  • “Confession From Kohl Questioned,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 8, 1959
  • “Murder Confession Discounted,” The Waterloo Daily Courier, May 8, 1959
  • “Former C.R. Resident In Jail at Davenport,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 7, 1959
  • “Gary McHugh Offers Help in Padfield Case,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 4, 1959
  • “First Clue in Death of Girl,” The Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, May 4, 1959
  • “New Clue in Girl’s Death Investigated,” The Carroll Daily Times Herald, May 4, 1959
  • “2 Asked To Take Lie Tests,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 2, 1959
  • “Call Agents In to Help Solve Slaying,” The Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 2, 1959
  • “Ask State Agents To Aid in Padfield Case,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 1, 1959
  • “Student: Marlene Seemed Upset,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 1, 1959
  • “Mystery of Girl’s Death is Deepened,” The Carroll Daily times Herald, May 1, 1959
  • “Mystery of Girl’s Death Deepens,’ The Waterloo Daily Courier, May 1, 1959
  • “Skeleton Mystery Deepens: Dogs Find Bones of Young Girl,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 20, 1959

 

21 Responses to Marlene Padfield

  1. Mystery addict says:

    Bullied to death is what it sounds like. Horrifying small town teenage girls in 1950 w no accountability.

  2. Diana Wilson says:

    So sad. We should count our blessings for being alive.

  3. tina says:

    It baffles me how people can keep their mouths shut about the death of a human being… a town remaining silent.. silent about a loved ones death… a child…….shame on you

  4. Harry Edelman says:

    Marlene Padfield’s mother, Ethel Elizabeth Padfield Walker, aged 83, died 12/29/1998, in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She was buried in Harrison, Arkansas. Survivors were: a son Raymond E. Padfield of Yellville, Arkansas; Patricia M. Armer of Alpena, Arkansas; and Barbara J. Quiggins of St. Joe, Arkansas – – all siblings of Marlene.The foregoing info. was obtained from Ethel Padfield Walker’s obit.

  5. Where is Arthur charles Scott jr. Now?

  6. John Doe says:

    “Someone Who Knew Her”: As a relative of Marlene, I find The choice of the music distasteful. The lyrics are “One Night With You”. Marlene Was a 17 year old kid. The video is reminiscent of a dime-store-novel. Lisbon continues to degrade Marlene even in her death. She was an outcast in your town and bullied. According to Vickie Yeager: http://mvlsun.com/article.php?viewID=9274 “Half the town knew” who killed her. That makes them complicit and accessories to murder, which is exactly why your local Sheriff refuses to reopen the case & use modern forensics. The sins of your fathers are upon you. I hope your town rots in hell. Rest in peace Marlene.

  7. photon1116 says:

    “Someone Who Knew Her”: As a relative of Marlene, I find The choice of the music distasteful. The lyrics are “One Night With You”. Marlene Was a 17 year old kid. The video is reminiscent of a dime-store-novel. Lisbon continues to degrade Marlene even in her death. She was an outcast in your town and bullied. According to Vickie Yeager: http://mvlsun.com/article.php?viewID=9274 “Half the town knew” who killed her. That makes them complicit and accessories to murder, which is exactly why your local Sheriff refuses to reopen the case & use modern forensics. The sins of your fathers are upon you. I hope your town rots in hell. Rest in peace Marlene. https://iowacoldcases.org/case-summaries/marlene-padfield/

  8. Almost as mysterious as Paula Oberbrockling case. Has anyone looked at the What Happened to Paula FB page? Totally spellbinding…

  9. Bob Hill says:

    Your right Tracey. If you have money you can get away with murder.

  10. andrea says:

    Arthur Charles Scott was admittedly the last person to see her alive. He gave different stories to law enforcement, and then refused to take a polygraph. His face was covered in scratches the day after her disappearance and he claimed he got them from “falling down at home.” Why isn’t her body exhumed to see if there is DNA under what remains of her fingernails? His parents hired a spendy lawyer and then hustled him out of state. Now he is age 73 and lives in Illinois. Gary McHugh was cleared and was willing to take a polygraph.

  11. Kim says:

    I wonder how close the police looked at her boyfriend, Gary McHugh (not sure I’m spelling that right). He might be worth looking into again.

  12. Alex Whitmer says:

    I am interested in chatting with the family about this story – there are a few members listed on the Facebook account dedicated to Miss Padfield, but since I do not have FB, I cannot leave a message for them.

    I am a screewriter, and I am very interested in this story to develop.

    You can leave a message for me on my blog page here …

    Kindly,

    Alex Whitmer

  13. Arthur Charles Scott, Jr. – spoiled rich boy, lied, dis-respectful of authority, inconsistant statements, quickly lawyered up, refused polygraph, scratches on face, etc. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure this one out. Another one who got away with murder! My prayers go out to your family, Kathy. I’m sorry Marlene never received the justice she deserved :(

  14. Rest in peace my beautiful Aunt!! Your taken away to young and I will meet you in Heaven someday!

  15. Sher Stookey says:

    Wow..I had never heard of this before but then I was only 7 then.

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