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Pamela Carter, 24, of Des Moines was last seen alive sometime in late June 1990. Her mother reported her missing to the Des Moines Police Department on July 10, 1990.
Nearly one month later on Wednesday, August 8, police found Carter’s decomposed body in the 2300 block of Euclid Avenue in a wooded area near the Des Moines River Bridge.
State Medical Examiner Thomas Bennett ruled cause of death as strangulation.
Officials discovered Carter’s body after an anonymous caller phoned WHO-TV Channel 13 in Des Moines and claimed there was a black woman in the water near the bridge. The caller also passed along another, more ominous message.
An article published August 11, 1990 in the Cedar Rapids Gazette stated:
DES MOINES (AP) — An anonymous caller who identified the decomposed remains of a young woman has threatened that there will be “many more” such deaths, but Des Moines police say they do not know whether the threat is serious.
“Based on what a caller said, we don’t want to stir up any hype, anxiety or panic in the community,” Police Sgt. Thomas Van Baale said.
But he added, “We certainly are not going to brush it off.”
Police identified a body found Wednesday night near the Des Moines River as that of 25-year-old [sic] Pamela Carter of Des Moines. Her mother had reported her missing July 10.
The cause of death remains unknown pending an autopsy, police said. They have said the woman could be a murder victim.
An anonymous telephone caller accurately described the woman before police identified her Thursday with dental records.
“She is the first, there will be many more,” the caller told WHO television.
He described the body as that of a black woman, 5 feet, 5 inches tall and about 134 pounds. A missing person’s report had listed Carter as 5 feet, 4 inches and 130 pounds.
Van Baale was reluctant to give credence to the caller.
An anonymous telephone caller told police Wednesday about the decomposed body, found just south of a city bridge.
— Cedar Rapids Gazette, Aug. 11, 1990
One week later on August 18, 1990, the Gazette reported:
DES MOINES (AP) — A 24-year-old woman whose body was found in Des Moines last week was strangled, the state medical examiner said Thursday.
Medical Examiner Thomas Bennett said an autopsy of the body of Pamela Carter shows the woman was choked to death. He said she died about a month before her body was found Aug. 8. Des Moines Police Chief William Moulder said Carter apparently was killed elsewhere and then dumped in a wooded area near the Des Moines River.
— Cedar Rapids Gazette, Aug. 18, 1990
Nearly 10 years later on Tuesday afternoon, June 6, 2000, a second anonymous call alerted police to another body in the Des Moines River on the capitol city’s north side.
As of Wednesday, June 7, police hadn’t released the victim’s name or how she was killed, but said she was black, 13 years old and from Des Moines.
Police found the girl’s body near the spot where Carter’s body had been discovered 10 years earlier. Officials wouldn’t speculate as to whether or not the two cases were related.
A list of the city’s unsolved homicides sent to Iowa Cold Cases on July 10, 2009, showed no open cases for the year 2000.
Pamela Y. Carter was born September 13, 1965. The United States Social Security Death Index lists her date of death as sometime in June 1990.
Pamela Carter’s murder remains unsolved.
If you have any information about Pamela Carter’s unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department Detective Bureau at (515) 283-4864.