Michael J. Booth (Courtesy Des Moines Register)

Michael J. Booth


Michael Jerome Booth
45 YOA
510 15th St. #21
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
DMPD Case Number: 1997-17132
April 26, 1997

On Saturday, April 26, 1997, an apartment building maintenance man discovered the deceased body of Michael Jerome Booth, 45, in apartment #21 at 510 15th Street.

Booth, who’d joined the U.S. Army in September 1969 and spent time in Germany and Hawaii before being honorably discharged in 1976, hadn’t been seen since April 20.

According to the Polk County medical examiner, cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

After his tour of duty, Booth returned to Carroll where he opened a restaurant, Michael’s Casino Café, and later went on to graduate from Des Moines Area Community College and Drake University.

Polk County in Iowa
Polk County in Iowa
Des Moines in Polk CountyDes Moines in Polk County

Booth’s sister, Mary Bernholtz, contacted Iowa Cold Cases in February and March 2011 about her brother’s unsolved murder. Like many other soldiers during that era, drugs helped with endurance and emotional stress while away from home, and as drug use became more widespread, some became addicted, including her brother.

Booth’s parents and Mary, a Des Moines Mercy Hospital nurse, made repeated attempts to help Booth overcome his addiction, but said it was a constant struggle for him and that he’d eventually become involved in drug trafficking.

Des Moines Police Sgt. Bruce Elrod told Des Moines Register reporter Tom Alex, “You can rest assured that regardless of Mr. Booth’s habits or lifestyle, he did not deserve to meet his end in such a fashion as this.

Both had successfully been holding down a job at the Des Moines Embassy Suites hotel when slain in his Des Moines apartment.

Des Moines Police Lt. Camden Moran confirmed with Iowa Cold Cases on July 10, 2009, that Booth’s murder remained unsolved.

About Michael Booth

Michael J. Booth was born to Jerome and Angeline (Lengel) Booth in Carroll, Iowa, on August 14, 1951. He graduated from Carroll High School in 1969, and four months later joined the military.

He never married and had no children.

After his tour of duty, Booth returned to Carroll where he opened a restaurant, Michael’s Casino Café, and later went on to graduate from Des Moines Area Community College and Drake University.

Courtesy photo Marshall J. Brown, Find a Grave
Michael Booth is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Carroll, Iowa.

Memorial services were held at Sharp Funeral Home in Carroll on Thursday, May 1, 1997, with military rites performed by Maurice Dunn American Legion Post No. 7.

Burial was in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Michael’s survivors included his brother Melvin and sister Mary, along with several nieces and nephews. His parents preceded him in death.

The United States Social Security Death Index lists Michael Booth’s date of death as April 26, 1997 — the same day police were called to investigate and discovered Booth’s body at the 15th Street apartment.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Michael Booth’s unsolved murder please contact the Des Moines Police Department Detective Bureau at 515-283-4864.

  • Lt. Camden Moran, Des Moines Police Department, Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
  • Mary Booth Bernholtz, Personal Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, February–March 2011
  • Michael Jerome Booth (1951 – 1997) — Find a Grave Memorial
  • Person Details for Michael J. Booth, “United States Social Security Death Index” — FamilySearch.org
  • Michael J. Booth, United States Public Records, 1970 – 2009″ — FamilySearch.org
  • “D.M. homicides from 2000 officially closed,” by Tom Alex, The Des Moines Register, April 11, 2005
  • “Slayings keep D.M. police stumped,” by Tara Deering, The Des Moines Register, September 13, 2003
  • “Body in apartment ID’d,” by Tom Alex, The Des Moines Register, April 1997


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