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Early Saturday morning, June 26, 1971, Ross R. McConnell, 47, awoke at 1:30 a.m. in his Des Moines home and discovered he was on fire. He ran to a neighbor’s house to summon help.
McConnell, who suffered second-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, died later that day after being transported to Broadlawns Polk County Hospital.
Police and fire investigators both said the odor of gasoline was present at McConnell’s home, and that there were unusual burned patches in McConnell’s yard. The case — cited as arson — expanded to include homicide after McConnell died.
Officials said witnesses provided descriptions of two automobiles seen in the area shortly before the fire, but no one was ever held accountable for the crime.
Ross Reynold McConnell was born November 21, 1923, and served as a private with the U.S. Army during World War II.
Services for McConnell were held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 10, at the Dahlstrom Funeral Home with interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
* The Des Moines Police Department lists McConnell’s date of death as June 26, 1971. It is unknown why his gravestone bears the date July 7.
If you have any information regarding Ross McConnell’s unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864.