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Massie Pittman, a 36-year-old Davenport, Iowa, tavern owner, was found slain in her Davenport home at 621 N. Harrison on Monday, February 17, 1969. Pittman was found in her bed with puncture wounds to her face, stomach and neck, and also had a blunt force trauma injury to the right side of her head.
In a strange twist of fate, Pittman’s husband also had been murdered several years earlier.
Geyer’s “Follow-Up File” on the case is listed below and is copyrighted by the Quad-City Times. The article may be found online here.
Shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, 1969, Leon Campbell Jr. and Bobby Fields went to Pittman’s Blue Note tavern, 623 Harrison St., and found it closed on a day it should have been open.
The two men wondered why the tavern was closed and decided to check on the tavern’s owner, Massie Pittman, 36, who lived in an apartment at 621 Harrison St., immediately next door to the tavern.
According to stories in the Quad-City Times written by Tom Kuncl, the men were able to climb through a window and found Pittman’s body.
Police at the time said that Pittman’s body was found lying across her bed. Her body was fully clothed in slacks and a blouse, but the blouse had been pulled up to reveal the woman’s brassiere, where police said the woman often carried money.
There was no sign of forced entry into her apartment building which was owned by Pittman, and there was no evidence of a struggle.
A purse found near the body contained only papers and keys.
Police said that Pittman was last seen alive about 6 p.m. Sunday by two girls who had rented an apartment from her and had gone to her home to discuss decorating.
However, a woman who lived in a rear apartment said she heard voices coming from Pittman’s apartment shortly after Sunday midnight.
Scott County Medical Examiner Dr. Rollin M. Perkins, who initially examined the body, said that Pittman had been dead for about 12 hours, possibly longer, and that death was caused by a heavy blow to the right side of her head. Perkins could not say what type of weapon was used to strike the woman.
Pittman also had suffered five puncture wounds to her head and one to her abdomen, Perkins said, adding that the wounds were discovered during the autopsy. Perkins said the wounds may be been caused by an ice pick or screwdriver.
In addition to the wounds, Perkins said that Pittman had been the victim of a brutal beating. She had been struck repeatedly in the face and head. Her four front teeth were found near the side of the bed where her body was discovered.
Perkins also had questions about Pittman’s true age. Instead of being 36 as police records indicated, Perkins believed the woman was “at least several years older.”
A search of Pittman’s home produced no potential murder weapon, and there was no trace of the .32-caliber pistol Pittman carried on occasions.
By Thursday, Feb. 20, 1969, according to Quad-City Times articles, Davenport Police Lt. John Ackerman said detectives had taken statements from at least 20 people.
Ackermen and his staff even had planned to take at least one person, and possibly others, to Des Moines for a polygraph examinations to help clear up some discrepancies in their statements.
But after all that, the case went cold.
After almost 50 years, the case remains unsolved.
In an odd twist, on Nov. 4, 1969, before he was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of 47-year-old Virgil Slater of Moline, Edward Lee Williams made a statement in Scott County District Court about one of the witnesses at his trial.
Williams, who was 25 at the time, said that a witness could provide information on at least three murders, including that of Massie Pittman, as well as information on the robbery of a Danville, Iowa, bank, a $16,000 holdup of a chemical company, and the theft of M-16 rifles from the Rock Island Arsenal.
According to Iowa Department of Corrections online records, Williams, who was born Oct. 29, 1943, is serving his time in the Newton Correctional Facility.
Massie Pittman was born Massie Morton in Brownsville, Tennessee. She married Hubert Pittman on Nov. 11, 1962. Less than a month after their marriage, Hubert Pittman was the victim of a fatal shooting.
Meyer Washington, of Davenport, was imprisoned in connection with Hubert Pittman’s death. Washington was released after serving five years.
Massie Pittman is buried in Brown’s Creek Cemetery in Brownsville, Tennessee.
Davenport police said the Pittman case remains active and anyone who has information may call 563-326-6125 or leave an anonymous tip on the city’s mobile app “CityConnect Davenport, IA” or “CrimeReports by Motorola.”