Rose Burkert (courtesy Tammy Howard Burkman)

Rose Burkert (Courtesy photo Tammy Howard Burkman)

Rose Z. Burkert and
Roger E. Atkison


Double Homicide

Roger Atkison

Roger Atkison (Courtesy St. Joseph News-Press)










Rose Z. Burkert, 22
Roger E. Atkison, 32
DCI Case # 80-06274
Amana Holiday Inn
Room 260
Williamsburg, Iowa
Iowa County
September 12, 1980

Iowa’s Unsolved: Hotel murders still haunt Amana community, 40 years later

Sept. 8, 2020 — As part of her ‘Iowa’s Unsolved’ series, KGAN’s Cymphanie Sherman takes a look at what’s been done in the 40 years since Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison were slain in Amana’s Holiday Inn.

Iowa County Sheriff Rob Rotter — who was only 12 years old when the crime took place — said he hasn’t given up hope on solving the case, and back in 2015 decided to reexamine every piece of evidence carefully preserved over the years at the sheriff’s office.

His efforts led to finding of a new piece of evidence.

Read Cymphanie’s full story here.


marcella-shat-roger-atkisonMarcella Shat and her late husband, Roger Atkison. (Photo courtesy Marcella Shat and the St. Joseph News-Press)

Sept. 10, 2016 — Roger Atkison’s widow, Marcella Shat, shares with the St. Joseph News-Press information about her marriage to Atkison, the painful yearly anniveraries, and how after 36 years she still hopes the case will be solved.

“There is a key person that knows what happened,” Shat said. “If that key person would just step forward and give us some information, I think it could be solved.”

Sheriff Robert Rotter with the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office said detectives returned to St. Joseph last month to get a full grasp of the case. They revisited witnesses and collected blood samples to compare against any new discoveries. He said evidence was sent to a lab in the winter for an initial touch DNA test, which can analyze skin cells left on an object. They are awaiting results.

Full Story

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing
Iowa County in Iowa
Iowa County in Iowa
Williamsburg in Iowa CountyWilliamsburg in Iowa County

On Friday evening, September 12, 1980, Rose Burkert, 22, and Roger Atkison, 32, arrived at the Amana Holiday Inn along I-80 near Williamsburg, Iowa, hoping for a romantic weekend getaway. The on-duty attendant told them the hotel was booked solid due to an area morticians’ conference, but double-checked the register. They were in luck; there’d been a cancellation.

The couple received a key to Room 260 at 7:40 p.m.

Shortly after noon the next day, a housekeeper arrived at Room 260 — a room only accessible from inside the building — and knocked several times. She got no answer. She tried the door, but found it locked.

The housekeeper went to get a passkey from the hotel manager and returned to the room.

“She opened the door and first saw feet. Thinking they were asleep, she peered in further,” Iowa County Sheriff William Spurrier said in a Cedar Rapids Gazette article published September 19, 1980.

What the housekeeper saw — blood splattered all across the bed’s headboard, the walls and the carpet — caused her to “slam the door shut and run for the manager,” wrote Gazette staff writer Gary Peterson.

Once the manager saw the grisly crime scene, he immediately called the Iowa County Sheriff’s Department.

Both Burkert and Atkison lay face down on the bed, the back of their skulls slashed and caved in by repeated blows from either an ax or hatchet. Atkison also had several severed fingers, indicating he’d tried to protect his head from the blows.

Both victims resided in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The married Atkison worked as a telephone installer-repairman for General Telephone Co. in Savannah, Mo., and Burkert was a nurse trainee at St. Joseph Hospital.

Officials found Burkert fully clothed, whereas Atkison wore only his shorts.


In a Gazette article dated September 18, 1980, Iowa County Medical Examiner Dr. Stacey Howell of Amana said both Burkert and Atkison died of acute blood loss and brain injuries.

Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette

Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thursday, Sept. 18, 1980

Howell said Atkison suffered lacerations to the scalp, skull and brain, and that Burkert suffered lacerations to the scalp and skull and a brain contusion. Both suffered bleeding under the brain covering, Howell said.

The room showed no signs of forced entry.

Two chairs sat next to the bed, indicating the killer or killers may have carried on a conversation with the couple prior to the slaying.

Evidence also indicated the killer had at one point put his feet up on the desk. He’d carved a piece of soap and written one word on the bathroom mirror: ‘This.’

The television had never been turned off.

Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department Captain Howard Judd, who worked the case for the St. Joseph Police Department, described the scene as “pretty gruesome” and “overkill.”

Rumors run rampant

Rumors swirled in both Missouri and Iowa.


Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1980

Some suspected Burkert’s ex-boyfriend, Danny Burton, whom she’d kicked out of her home due to his alleged drug use. He’d allegedly been stalking her in the weeks before the murder, and Burkert had filed a complaint with the Andrew County (MO) Sheriff’s Department and told them if she ended up dead it would be “because of her ex.”

A single mother, she’d gotten a dog for protection.

She later found the dog hanging — butchered — in front of her home.

Burton had an alibi and passed a polygraph.

Rumors also circulated that the killer may have been Roger’s uncle, serial killer Charles Hatcher, who’d recently escaped from a Nebraska mental health center.

In a Cedar Rapids Gazette story published Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1980, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) supervisor Tim McDonald said teletypes were being sent out to other states in an effort to locate any similar crimes. He said about 400 people — including guests and Holiday Inn employees — had already been questioned.

State investigators said neither guns nor drugs were involved in the deaths.

“We are not going to give up,” DCI Director Gerald Shanahan told the St. Joe News-Press in a September 24, 1980 interview about the case.

Gerald ShanahanCourtesy photo Spencer Daily Reporter
Gerald Shanahan, a 25-year FBI agent, took over as DCI director in August 1977.

In a Gazette story published the following day, Shanahan said there’d been no headway in the case, but that agents from Missouri and Illinois were assisting in the case.

According to the Gazette’s Sept. 25 story, agents were in Galesburg, Ill. to investigate a similar murder committed less than three months earlier on June 25. Authorities said a hatchet-like instrument was believed to be the weapon in both cases.

On December 21, 1980, Gazette writer Peterson scribed about the “little optimism” in eastern Iowa murder probes. In the article, Iowa County Sheriff Spurrier referred to the Burkert/Atkison slayings as “the most perplexing in his 32 years of law enforcement.”

Shanahan left the DCI in 1983, and cited the Amana hatchet slaying and the disappearance of Des Moines Register paperboy Johnny Gosch as the two unsolved cases he would think about most after his departure.

“Those kinds of things will always remain with you,” Shanahan said in a Spencer Daily Reporter story published June 28, 1983. “Hopefully as time goes on they will be solved.”

DCI and Burkert’s close friend resurrect interest in case

When the Iowa DCI established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, the Rose Burkert /Roger Atkison double homicide was amongst approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA technology.

In a St. Joseph News-Press story by R.J. Cooper published Sept. 20, 2009, Tammy Burkman said solving the case became her obsession. Wrote Cooper:

She compiled stacks of articles, stories, tips and files. It’s all Ms. Burkman thought about. She called detectives, dissected forensics shows on TV, calling officers afterward to suggest a new technique that could break the case. When she received threats, Ms. Burkman pushed harder, hoping to force the culprit out of hiding. When a fire destroyed Ms. Burkman’s files five years ago, she didn’t concede. She merely started over.

Her obsession, however, came at a cost; it led to a divorce.

tammy-burkman-at-roses-gravesiteCourtesy photo Jessica Stewart / St. Joseph News-Press
Tammy Burkman sits at the gravesite of her friend, Rose Burkert, in 2009.

Burkman kept asking questions, wouldn’t give up.

Federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, though the DCI continues to assign agents to investigate cold cases as new leads develop or as technological advances allow for additional forensic testing of original evidence.

The DCI remains committed to the resolution of Iowa’s cold cases and continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.

Tammy Burkman remains committed as well. Given the “wonderful times” she and Burkert spent together during Burkert’s pregnancy, it only seemed appropriate she launch the new Facebook page — Justice for Rosie — over Mother’s Day weekend.

rose-burkert-gravestoneCourtesy photo Kelly,
Rose Burkert is buried in St. Joseph Memorial Park Cemetery in Buchanan County, Missouri.
About Rose Burkert

Rose Burkert was born May 21, 1958, and at the time of her death was a nurse trainee at St. Joseph Hospital in Missouri.

She was buried at Saint Joseph Memorial Park Cemetery in Saint Joseph, Missouri, in Buchanan County.

About Roger Atkison

Roger Edward Atkison was born May 30, 1948, in Saint Joseph, Missouri, to James Hiram and Ruth Elizabeth (Todd) Atkison.

roger-atkison-gravestoneCourtesy photo Theresa Hernandez-White
Roger Atkison is also buried in St. Joseph Memorial Park Cemetery in Missouri.

He served as an HM3 with the US Navy during the Vietnam War, and later worked as a telephone installer-repairman for General Telephone Co. in Savannah, Mo.

He was buried in Saint Joseph Memorial Park Cemetery in Saint Joseph, Missouri, in Buchanan County.

His father, James, passed away in 2004, and his mother Ruth died in 2012.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding the unsolved double slaying of Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison, please contact the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office at (319) 642-7307 or contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email



Copyright © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


130 Responses to Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison

  1. Marcella Hatcher-Akison says:

    Tammy…I don’t understand why you keep professing that Rose was your best friend when I understand that you and Rose had a falling out over a guy and hadn’t spoke to each other for a year or more before she died. Isn’t that true?

  2. Marcella Hatcher-Atkison says:

    I am the widow of Roger Atkison. I just published my book on his murder. It can be found on The title: AXED! The 1980 Amana, Iowa, Ax Murders by Marcella Hatcher-Atkison.

  3. T. Sherman says:

    If the murders were related to their sexual relationship, Pietism would have been examined and the hardcore Pietists would have been questioned and investigated. This could explain the beating about the head and face for their thought processes not fitting the self-righteous killer.

  4. Melanie Wood says:

    I think it was someone she knew. The dog is to be of note. I believe the “This” written was a statement that they were killed because of what they were doing. “This” is why they are dead. I just don’t think it was random. The overkill. Personal. The violence and murder weapon used. Very brutal. Like someone was very angry. It doesn’t appear robbery was a motive. No one chooses an axe or the like for a weapon for a robbery. No forced entry. No one heard anything which I do find strange.

    • Tammy Burkman says:

      I was Rose’s best friend. It could have been someone mad at her, but Roger is the one that was married. So, that in itself meant people , if they knew or found out would have been very angry. His wife’s family was a very strange, some evil bunch. I really think it was either done by the wife’s close family members. Or they paid someone to help. I hope that the DNA that was found can be used to do genealogy. That would bring us to the killer even if they are already deceased. I just need to know who, that will tell why. It has been going on 41 years, we just need the answers!

  5. Dan Morgan says:

    The Scene of the Crime podcasts on this case are very informative – thank you for this Mike!

  6. Mike Morford says:

    The Scene of the Crime podcast, S2 EP 3 ‘The Investigation Continues’ is out now diving further into the murders of Roger & Rose! This episode covers the extensive investigation that extended into multiple states as detectives tracked down everyone at the hotel that night. We look at a mysterious phone call that came in for the room registered to “Burkert.” Investigators begin to retrace Roger and Rose’s steps in the days leading up to the murders.…/scene-of-the-crime-season-2…

  7. James Farrell says:

    I wonder if the original people that reserved the room might have been the intended targets?

  8. Mike Morford says:

    S2 EP2 of Scene of the Crime is out now. In ‘Crime Scene Investigation’ we take a look at the hotel room crime scene, and the evidence that was found in Room 260. We address some theories of how the killer, or killers, accessed the room, and retrace the steps of the investigators as they notify Roger and Rose’s next of kin.…/scene-of-the-crime-season-2…

  9. Mike Morford says:

    There is a brand new in depth podcast about this case out right now. You’ll hear from friends and family of the victims, investigators, and hotel staff at the scene

  10. Paulette Borstad says:

    Did they ever exhume the body of the supposed killer? (Series 1 E 1)? It’s driving me nuts, they leave without a word!!!! What happened?

  11. Pamela says:

    Since the aggressor Was comfortable with dead bodies and was reported to take the time comfortably to go through the Wallet – has anyone collected the DNA of all the undertakers that were at the conference?

    • Jack says:

      They just can’t “collect” their DNA. The police can ask for the convention members for permission but lacking that permission there is no way that the visitors can be compelled to give up their DNA. And after forty years how do they find out who attended?

    • Leslie Johnson says:

      Exactly what I was thinking!

  12. Kimberly Ann Kelly Lehman says:

    Recently another investigator took on the case. It looks like a Serial Killer and heroin addict drifter killed in 1970 and 1984 so far also. All three have male victims face down, bludgeoned in the back of the head, chairs pulled up with wallet contents emptied, and toothpaste squirted out (which a sex ejaculation simulation for heroin addicts). The suspect died in 1984 but they are trying to get his body exhumed to see if it matches male DNA they have from 2 of the 3 murder scenes so far.

  13. Mike Morford says:

    So glad that suspicion can be shifted away from Roger’s widow, Marcella. I’ve never once thought she was involved, and have always leaned towards it being a stranger attack, and after watching the DNA of Murder with Paul Holes on Oxgen, I am even more convinced

  14. Misty says:

    It was a serial killer just watched an episode where similar things like hatched wallet and chair and toothpaste was found at 2 other hotel off interstates one 10weeks before this happened and another in 1970

  15. Tarre Calloway says:

    Did you use a psychic or did the same happen around that area?

  16. Clarissa says:

    I feel like someone followed the woman. Not necessarily her spouse even. She may or may not have known she was being stalked. Someone she rebuffed even. Because whoever committed the crime knew her and her info. That is why they didn’t bother with her wallet. I would look for a connection with the guys widow. I think someone from Rose’s area went to Rogers widow’s area and made contact. Maybe even relocated to the area.

  17. Hayley says:

    I watched “A Secret Affair” on October 8th, 2019. The Detective had mentioned that the killer started to write something on the door; the killer left one word…..”THIS”.

    My Takeaway:
    Right away, I thought that the word “THIS” could be an acronym because; the four letters were ALL capitalized……these letters could possibly stand for “Four Words”…..

    Bless the families of these 2 victims…..for their loss. Bless the 2 victims for the horrendous acts of violence that they endured.


    • Roger says:

      Hayley – Was “A Secret Affair” a television episode regarding the case? I couldn’t find anything. Thanks

  18. KCH says:

    what was the reason they picked Iowa for a romantic get away? Iowa is totally not romantic. I think there is something behind the location they picked. or the affair was discovered by the wife of Roger or the father of Rose’s child. I can see where the father of Rose’s child might think ‘cha ching’ no child support i i fix the problem, just create an alibi while i head to IA for a few hours. Was anyone they knew tied with the undertakers conference held at the time? So many unanswered questions.

    • Beaver says:

      They wanted to go someplace where no one knew them because he was married and this particular hotel has a water park, which would have been a unique attraction at the time.

  19. KCH says:

    I watched Dr Oz today and saw this case with Rose and Roger, there is conflicting information, the show said that Rose was turned over and covered up, but i did research, and this website shows where i saw it, that she in fact was also face down when found: (Both Burkert and Atkison lay face down on the bed, the back of their skulls slashed and caved in by repeated blows from either an ax or hatchet.) I remember hearing on the Dr Oz show that she was turned over and covered up stating that the perpetrator possibly knew her and had remorse. So the article is very conflicting. My in-laws live in St Joe and I so badly want to be a forensic scientist but not always is the evidence accurately reported. Back in high school we had this assignment to whisper in our neighbors ear a certain comment, but only aloud to say it that one time, then it would to around the room until the last person heard it. The last person would say it out loud. It was never what it started out to be. Unfortunately we do not always get the accurate information to help cases that are unsolved. I love Dr Oz though and will still research research research. I don’t know either party involved but since it is close to home, i am interested in closure.

    • Tammy Burkman says:

      I was Rose’s best friend and I know it was said they were both found face down, but I believe that Paul Holes knows what he is talking about. Maybe the fact that Rose was moved after her murder and covered up is just something the detectives wanted to keep to themselves. So, if they ever had someone come to them it would be something only the detectives and the killer would know.

      • KCH says:

        It is important to know exactly how they were found. A lot says about placement.

        • KCH says:

          also if the fact that she was moved after the murder and detectives wanted to keep it to themselves it is now out there. Given that it is important that we know as much as possible to figure it out. Nice to meet you Tammy, and sorry for your loss.

      • KCH says:

        Tammy- what are your thoughts on Roses ‘child’s father? was there a hefty child support payment? Did he know her plans that weekend?

        • Tammy Burkman says:

          No there was no child support being paid and they hadn’t had contact in quite awhile. He had never seen the child. And thank you for caring. I have a good idea and everything I hear about the show is that Paul Holes came up with quite a bit of stuff and I think we will get lots of answers. He says he won’t give up till the case is solved.

      • Hayley says:

        Sorry for your loss Tammy…

      • Clarissa says:

        Did someone who knew or associated with rose leave the area at this time or really soon thereafter??

    • KCH says:

      another point to consider is on the Oz show the word ‘This’ s on the door, but the articles state it was on the ‘Mirror’ in the bathroom. Just trying to find out why the inconsistencies to get to the real facts. It may seem like nothing but can be a HUGE difference in solving the case. so what is it?

  20. Ann says:

    I think the toothpaste was going to be used as a writing tool to finish the note on door after “this”, but killer changed his/her mind.

  21. Damien says:

    This seems like a Zodiac case

  22. Suzanne Hayden says:

    Who was booked for room 260 and then canceled? Also who booked room 260 and never returned a key to front desk. Sounds like someone had a key to that room.

  23. Tammy Stark says:

    Could “THIS” be intended as an acronym for something? Like, “The Heathen Inherit Suffering” or something like that? If he was religious maybe someone in his family was outraged about the affair.

  24. Loretta says:

    I think that the word THIS is someone initials…. Ex. Tom Henry Irving Senior. I don’t know why but it just makes sense that it initials. I think it probably was for the money in those days men probably wouldn’t search women or believe women kept money. Probably felt disappointment when the cards were being flicked on the floor. A remorse for killing women maybe is reason he covered Rose. I am thinking serial killer

  25. wendy says:

    First of all, how good was her ex,s alibie? People have been know to pass polygraphs. If he can do that to a dog and she needed protection from him, he would be my focus! Also is it possible that he spit in the tub or something and covered it up with the toothpaste, did they test the toothpaste for dna. They found male dna, did they re test some of the suspects dna?

    • Tammy Burkman says:

      I can answer some of your questions, the ex had an alibi in his job. Timecard showed he was there and people claim to have seen him that night at work, I believe. Also, yes the DNA has been run against many suspects and if they are deceased, then their families DNA was tested. I’m not sure it has been tested against every single possible suspect yet though.

      • Clarissa says:

        I think Rose had a stalker …woukd explain going so far away. Would explain why the did not feel the need to check her wallet . They knew her info also I think he most likely then went to his widows area next

  26. Kelsey Kerrigan says:

    I think the wife found out and hired someone to kill them.

  27. Laurel says:

    so, just curious, was he married and cheating on his wive with the other victim? Any thoughts on wife’s motivation? Hired hit?

    • Ben says:

      Roger was asleep. He was collateral damage. Rose was the focus of this crime. Both the TV and the nightstand lamp illuminated her body. The killer could pass a polygraph. But there were too many happenstances for this to be anyone other than someone Rose or Roger or both met that night. But I think Roger was asleep when the perp entered the room.

      The perp would be a white male in his mid to late 20s who felt comfortable in the hotel but didn’t necessarily plan the attack. This was a spur of the moment murder and focused on Rose.

    • Tammy Burkman says:

      I think if the wife had anything to do with it she didn’t have to hire anyone, her Dad and perhaps her serial killing Uncle, Charles Hatcher!!!!

  28. Mike Morford says:

    Here’s a podcast episode about the case by the true crime podcast, Criminology. You’ll hear from Roger’s widow Marcella & Iowa County Sheriff Rob Rotter in this episode

    • Ben says:

      That hot lather machine looks oddly out of place. I wonder if it’s still in evidence, and if so, if it was/could be ever tested using 21st Century forensic techniques.

  29. Lisa says:

    The podcast Criminology will be covering this case is March 2019.

    • Stay Strong, Keep Fighting For Justice! says:

      Thanks for the update. If you discover a link, it would nice to publish it here if you don’t mind. I’d like to listen to it and presume others would as well.

  30. Mike Morford says:

    I am producing an in depth podcast episode about this case, and I am looking to connect and talk with anyone who might have info, or be connected to the case as far as being hotel staff, or witnesses, etc. Contact me here-

  31. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I looked at Rock Island and Moline, Illinois area on a AAA Road Atlas. Interstate 74 passes through the area, and noticed a Interstate – 280, that runs from I-74, and by passes Rock Island and Moline and ties into Interstate – 80, after crossing the Mississippi River. Also Interstate – 80, passes just north of Rock Island and Moline.

  32. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Well, here are the details from Galesburg. A Peoria salesman, Willia, Ross Kyle, was found dead in his room at the Sheraton Motor Inn, at Iinterviewedterstate – 74, and East Main Street, on June 25, 1980.

    He died from a dozenzblows from a sharp heavy object to his head, neck and shoulders. He was found face down on the bed, knees on the floor, with his head covered in a blanket. There was no signs of forced entry, and very little taken from the room.

    The authorities determined that a Raymondo Esparza, (50’s), a drifter, transient, drug addicted veteran as the offender. He was actually picked up by the police earlier and dropped off in the same area. He entered the motel, seeking something to eat. He carried a tool belt from his work on a sugar cane farm in Mississippi.

    On the blanket, police found the bloody outline of the murder weapon was found. It matched the size and shape of a sugar cane knife. Also, they found a leather case with a metal fingernail clipper made in Europe. The manufacturer told authorities that the finger nail clippers had been only sent to a blood bank in California, which gave them out over a two week period. Esparza had been in the area receiving treatment for his mental health issues.

    According to one of the lead investigators said that Esparza had a violent background, according to interviews with his girlfriends. They interviewed him, but could not get a confession. He later died of liver cancer at the Iowa City VA Medical Center in March 1983. This is not to far from Williamsburg. Authorities obtained a DNA sample from the VA, to compare, but the material from the crime scene was degraded to be useful.

    I don’t see it mentioned in regards to the murder of Roger and Rose, but they appeared to be covered with a blanket. Also, they were face down in bed. These two crimes scenes should be reviewed by a criminal profiler, to see if they might be linked.

    Raymund or Raymond Esparza was born on January 7, 1931 in Morgan City, Louisiana, and died March 26, 1983, per VA & SS records on Ancestry. Also, his SSN, was issued in California. He served in the U.S. Army as a Corporal in Korea, (1948-1952). At some point in time he lived in Rock Island, Illinois. This information is listed on his VA headstone in California.

    At some point in time his family moved to California. His mother died in LA, on 9/17/1937.

  33. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    I agree this murder was personal. Also, the theats to Tammy and her files were destroyed in a fire. Also, what about the incident in Galesburg, Illinois on June 25th. Anyone know more details on that incident.

  34. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Maybe he needed proof, that the job had been completed. Also, the part about the dog being found hung and butchered. The dog was purchased for protection. So, who was able to get close to the dog, that they could have hung it and then butcher it. The question, is whether an autopsy was done on the dog, to see if it was drugged.

  35. John Machado says:

    My mother is the housekeep that found the bodies.

    • Joao says:

      Can you share any information about it? Surely it is still difficult to your mother to remember this odious fact, but did she ever told you what she saw?

  36. chris l says:

    They checked in at 7:40. I’m curious what the time of death was. Also, she was dressed: did the autopsy determine if she had had sexual intercourse? Did she dress after? Why? It’s faster for a guy to get dressed than a female, especially if it was to answer the door. Did she leave to go back to the bar? They ordered room service: what time was it ordered? Was the cutlery and food still in the room, or had it been placed outside? Toothpaste all over the bathtub: what can toothpaste be used to clean better than soap and water?

    • Theresa says:

      Toothpaste is good for cleaning carpet stains, clothing stains (lipstick/ink), leather scuffs, rubber parts of tennis shoes, tar, helps pimples, bruises, bug bites, burns, can be used as hair gel, hand deodorizer, mirror defogger, skin rashes (like poison ivy/oak), as a goggles defogger (I’m thinking of construction workers, welders, paint ballers, and divers), resolves scratches in glass and plastic, and more.

      • Bobbi Ray says:

        What was the word “THIS” on the door they found written in? was it the toothpaste ? Was there any other crimes that were committed have similar things found that were written at those cases?

    • chris l says:

      Thanks, Theresa. I did some Googling, and apparently toothpaste has been recommended to remove bloodstains that haven’t been set. These murders were brutal and violent. Perhaps the murderer had blood on him after, the only thing available was the toothpaste Rose and Roger brought, so the killer used that, water and their toothbrush to clean his stains. Then, he had to sit around for his clothes to dry, maybe in a chair watching TV and carving a random bar of soap.

      If the murder weapon wasn’t something in the room, the killer brought it with him and took it when he left.

      The serial killer uncle: his crimes were largely involved with the killing of homosexuals. I doubt he was involved in this, different MO.

      Tammy, I know you lost most of your stuff in the fire mentioned. Would you be willing to contact me and share some of what you do have?

      • Theresa says:

        I think you have made very viable assumptions with the information that has been offered in this case. I suspect you are right that the murderer cleaned up himself/axe-like weapon, and then carved the soap with the same weapon in hopes to ensure it was as clean as possible before leaving. The sitting around in the room makes a great deal of sense. Then while waiting to dry off, needed something to do for entertainment (carving the soap/writing on the mirror/watching tv/looking for money). I believe the word “This” written on the mirror says a great deal about the person who did this, and I no longer believe the perpetrator sat, and had a conversation with them unless they had already been attacked.

  37. mcbrainder says:

    I’ve been obsessed with this case since I read this about a year ago. I wish there was more information about it or a way to track down some of the people involved back in the day.

    There are so many elements to this that make it seem more than just another random killing. It’s frustrating when cases like this go unsolved.

  38. Theresa says:

    I wonder if the partial print was run again if it might come up with a match, and did the police print all of those they interviewed?

  39. Theresa says:

    They should run the partial print again, maybe that will net something now.

  40. Theresa says:

    From Rumors: “Roger was in his undershorts but Rose was fully clothed, the killer was someone whom Roger knew well.” I don’t know Roger, but I don’t necessarily believe that a guy would get dressed if a man he didn’t know was entering the room. Especially if he didn’t feel the man was a threat. Additionally, Rose may have let the person in the room while Roger was already sleeping, since evidence suggests they had been drinking. I think it is imperative to understand why Rose would let someone in the room at the time she did. True it could be somone that Roger trusted, but the bartender may have urged Rose to let him in to apologize, or discuss their argument, but what the argument was about would be important because maybe he left town thinking the job just wasn’t worth it anymore, or he knew who did the deed, or maybe he did the deed himself. Information seems to suggest that the police never talked to this guy.

  41. Gary Lillis says:

    My sister was working the front desk at the Amana Holiday Inn that day. She called me that night, very shook up. Will always remember.

  42. Scot Korte says:

    Lindsey Meier & Kim Wilkin Korte you need to read this.

  43. This horrible can’t believe it happened in Iowa

  44. David Hanus says:

    that is so sad they didnt get there romantic get away

  45. Theresa says:

    I find it interesting that the fire at Burkman’s residence implies someone may have felt that she could have been getting close with all of the information she had.

  46. Theresa says:

    I believe their were two perpetrators, and at least one that Rose did not know who gained initial entry into the room. I believe Rose answered the door because she was dressed. I also believe it was probably a random act because no one asked at the front desk for their room number, unless Rose called, and gave the room number to the sitter of her child. Then it would be looking at who visited the babysitter to obtain that information.

  47. Joao says:

    Did the police or investigators checked who was the people that cancelled the room? Can we assume the killer was already inside the locker room awaiting for this people? Killed Burket and Atkinson by mistake? Even if the killer saw them as not the targets he would must probably carry out the killings because they saw his face. And the word THIS were to meant THIS WAS A MISTAKE but some noise or else prevented him to write it and escape? Maybe he sat and carve in desperation after the murders to think about the blunder he had made? Very intriguing story indeed.

  48. Trish says:

    I would like to know if the ex boyfriends alibi could be someone that was there with him to do the deed! Could it have been a lamp or towel bar from the room that was the weapon? Was there no fingerprints? Footprints? Did Marcella know her husband was having an affair? Could she have recruited the serial killer uncle? Did he ever get found and questioned? How does the hotel employee’s not know who was let into that room? Do they think the couple let the intruders in?

    • S says:

      The supposed weapon used to kill these two people was decor from the hotel as there are lots of old farm tools and such hanging on the walls of the hallways..

      • Theresa says:

        Did the police test any of the items matching the description hanging on the walls of the hallway, or were any of them missing? There are just too many unanswered questions!

  49. Jodi says:

    This is a very tragic and horrific crime! The question keep nagging at me about them laying flat on their stomachs. Could they have possibly been tied up? After they were killed, they were untied and evidence taken with the killer? Possible. And whoever did this had to of asked the front desk ….better reinterview employees at the hotel. Somebody out there knows something, so don’t give up!

  50. Joao says:

    Don’t give up Tammy, persistence pays off sometimes. Amazing and baffling case. How your files ended burned? Why threatening your quest?

  51. Theresa says:

    Here’s a thought. Marcella uncharacteristically broke down crying the day before the murders. Had her husband called and told her he was staying to finish his job by that point? Some bible thumping discussion about staying married to such a sinful man could have been discussed by Marcella, and inspiring someone to protect Marcella from one so unholy as to have an affair. Her new last name is not allowed to be printed, so where did she meet her new hubbie?

    • Roxanne Martin says:

      Tammy I agree with this idea. He was hit more times than Rosie from what I can tell makes me think it was about him, she was just the wrong affair when someone had enough of him. just a thought

    • Clarissa says:

      And I bet her knew Rose from before.

  52. mcbrainder says:

    This case has my intrigued, and it even happened right before I was born. If you ever want to shoot around ideas/theories, feel free to send me an email to I’m not any kind of law enforcement. Just someone interested in details. Incidents like this don’t seem like they could happen today, with cameras all over the place and better forensics, but this case seems to have a lot of strong angles and evidence. It seems to me that it would be solvable if they put the man power into it.

  53. mcbrainder says:

    Danny Burton seems like a legit suspect according to the info in the article. Why was he never pursued further?

    • mcbrainder says:

      I just saw he had an alibi and passed a polygraph, so disregard the previous comment. I wonder who the alibi was. That’s not always reliable and polygraphs can be beat. Interesting that there may have been a conversation and there was no forced entry. If these two were targeted and it was personal, who would even know what room to find them? It’s hard to believe a stranger, or even someone they knew, carried an axe into the hotel, knocked on the door, and was let in.

      • Tammy Burkman says:

        I totally agree, it makes no sense. It also makes no sense that they just laid their on their stomachs and let someone kill them like that. They weren’t tied up, or they couldn’t have grabbed their heads after the first blow. How would you get them both to just lay there and do nothing. Was there two killers? Did they strike them at the same time? So many things don’t make sense!!!!! The questions just drive me crazy!!!

        • mcbrainder says:

          Since you’ve looked into this so much, based on what you know, do you think it was personal or random?

          • Tammy Burkman says:

            I truly believe it was personal. I’ve heard that most of the detectives believe it was personal. But I am open to them checking everything out. Wish one of them would just take the case and start at the beginning again. New eyes might see something no one else did. This case was so horrific that it shouldn’t be let go. The killer or killers should not be free on public streets!

        • Herb Hunter says:

          Perhaps he was asleep and was killed first while she was out making her phone call(s) and then unexpectedly decided to have a few drinks down in the bar. Maybe they only had one key, and he left the door slightly ajar for her so he didn’t have to get up when she returned to the room. This could explain why she was fully clothed and he was only in his shorts.

  54. Ms. Burkert was married, too? She married in 1979, according to the update at the top of the article.

  55. I’m wondering if they ever interviewed his wife….if I read it right, it said he was married. Just a suggestion and maybe I missed something (it’s early). Either way, I hope they find something. Cold cases are so sad; waiting for justice

  56. Creepy!! Ive stayed there a couple times i think

  57. Tammy Burkman says:

    Thank you, Alicia.

  58. Brandy Ann says:

    SpencerandTiffany Madsen this is what I was telling you about when u were here

  59. Diane Vickers Oliver says:

    Could there possibly be two suspects? One of the articles say that there were “two” chairs facing the bed. Also, could the suspect have already been in the room when they checked in? Have the detectives ever questioned the original people that had rented the room? Just a couple of thoughts.
    I pray that this case is solved soon, she was blessed to have you as a friend.

    • Tammy Burkman says:

      Thank you very much, but I was Blessed to have had her as my friend. She was like my sister. I will never give up!!!

  60. Lisa Andrews says:

    I live in MN. What a very sad and disturbing case. Hopefully, someone is still out there alive who knows something. The article mentioned Roses daughter. I hope she is doing well. I will click like on her friends page to keep updated.

  61. so sad, I hope they can find who did this! prayers to their family and friends.!!

  62. jmc says:

    “”due to an area morticians’ conference, but double-checked the register. They were in luck; there’d been a cancellation””” — Or perhaps a mortician did it, because they never went through the whole process life-to-death… Or maybe the muderer’s target was the people that originally rented the room (before the cancellation”? So, perhaps the killing was premeditated.

  63. Makysa says:

    Roger Atkinson was the nephew of serial killer Charles Hatcher. Charle’s Hatchers neice was working at a Taco Pico in Iowa, I would definitely look at her. If anyone has any other information on this case please email me.
    -thank you

  64. Don says:

    I would look at her ex-boyfriend again. Even his wife.

  65. Robert Lucht says:

    I wonder if the killer was influenced by the movie “The Shining” 1980 Stephen King.

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