Sandra Kinney

Sandra Kinney

Sandra Dee Kinney


Sandra Dee “Sandy” Kinney
33 YOA
Mississippi River walkway
Davenport, IA
Scott County
July 20, 1996
Case Summary compiled by Kerry Connolly

On Saturday, July 20, 1996, Sandra Dee “Sandy” Kinney, 33, was strangled to death near the Mississippi River walkway in Davenport, Iowa, and her body thrown into the Mississippi River.

Her nude body was found floating face down by a local fisherman the same day. Scott County officials said that she had only been in the water for approximately three to four hours when her body was pulled from the river at 8 p.m. that night.

sandra-and-amie-kinneyCourtesy photo Amie Wittmeyer-Kinney
Sandra Kinney poses for a photo with her daughter, Amie Wittmeyer-Kinney, in the early ’90s.

Davenport police interviewed more than 150 persons who may have seen or heard something or known details about Kinney’s murder. They did confiscate a vehicle owned by a local junk dealer, 52-year-old Jerry Lee Huff, that contained Kinney’s personal contents.

When Huff arrived at the Davenport Police Department he was arrested, charged with First Degree Murder and Willful Injury, and jailed until his trial began several months later.

The Trial of Jerry Lee Huff

According to court documents, Huff made an incriminating statement to Davenport police detectives in October while in custody. The judge in the case, however, decided to suppress the statement and all information regarded as “any fruits from the poisonous tree.” That information was never offered to the jury selected for the trial that began in January of 1997, five months after Kinney’s murder.

Scott County in Iowa
Scott County in Iowa
Davenport in Scott CountyDavenport in Scott County

Scott County officials did not give up, and pushed for a Motion in Limine, which was granted, to keep the case open for further investigation into Huff’s activities. During the trial, Scott County prosecutors accused Huff of killing Kinney because she refused to perform a sex act with Huff, sparking Huff to angrily slay Kinney via strangulation and dispose of her body in the Mississippi River.

More than 50 witnesses testified during the week-long Scott County District Court trial.

Kinney, while known to live in rural Calamus, Iowa, was reported by witnesses and Scott County and Davenport officials to have spent much of her time in the downtown Davenport area, sometimes working as a waitress in various establishments but also working as a prostitute to fund a crack cocaine addiction.

Kinney had been convicted of minor charges involving alcohol, theft, drug, and vehicular-related offenses and she was completing probation given for her guilty pleas before her death. She had no driver’s license or vehicle and allegedly accepted rides from Huff and other persons during the summer of her death.

Other evidence offered during the trial included a pair of shorts Kinney was seen wearing on the day of her death, along with other pieces of Kinney’s clothing and personal items found in Huff’s car immediately following her murder.

On January 21, 1997, the jury found reasonable doubt and acquitted Huff of both charges. Huff walked out of the courthouse a free man.

Since the trial, public records show he has been charged with more than two dozen minor charges unrelated to Kinney’s death. Because he was living in his vehicle at the time of Kinney’s murder and at the time of his arrest several days later, it is believed that he remains a resident in Iowa but his exact location is unknown to Iowa Cold Cases.

Due to Double Jeopardy, he cannot be tried again for the First Degree Murder and Willful Injury charges in Sandra Kinney’s case since he was acquitted by the jury.

sandra-kinney-with-dogCourtesy photo Amie Wittmeyer-Kinney
The wind blows Sandra Kinney’s hair across her face as she poses outside a Sunoco gas station with “Bear,” the dog she got for her daughter, Amie, in 1990 or 1991.
What now?

Davenport police consider Kinney’s strangulation murder an “unsolved homicide” and continue to investigate her homicide as a “major case” along with many other murders that have occurred in Davenport through this year.

Although many Scott County area officials allege that Huff had the opportunity and motive to kill Kinney, they continue to search for any new clues that would lead to the arrest of any person or persons involved in the woman’s untimely and violent death.

Kinney’s daughter, Amie, has reached out to Iowa Cold Cases to spread the information about her mother’s murder hoping that someone will remember something, large or small, that would help officials solve her mom’s case.

About Sandra Kinney

Sandra Dee Kinney was born November 29, 1962 and was 33 years old when she died on July 20, 1996. She lived in Davenport and nearby Calamus all her life. She was employed as a waitress in Davenport at various restaurants and clubs.

Survivors included her daughter, Amie Wittmeyer of Cambridge, Illinois, a grandson, two brothers, Douglas Kinney and David Kinney of Calamus, and her parents, Mary Kinney of Calamus and Russell Kinney of Jacksonville, Illinois.

Cunnick-Collins Mortuary and Cremation Service was in charge of private arrangements. Nine days after her murder, Kinney’s remains were cremated on July 29, 1996 at Fairmount Cemetery Crematory in Davenport. Daughter Amie provided this information about Kinney being laid to rest and she retains the package information about the incinerated remains. Amie is reaching out for any information leading to the conviction of her mother’s killer.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Sandra Kinney’s murder, please contact the Davenport Police Department at (563) 326-7979 or Iowa Cold Cases via our Contact form or Anonymous Tip Form. You may choose to either remain anonymous or include your personal information to us or law enforcement when you offer any information you have about the end of young Sandy Kinney’s life.



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


30 Responses to Sandra Kinney

  1. veronica a hayes says:

    I just found out through DNA that Jerry Lee Huff is my birth father. I was adopted at 5, the man I lived with until then was a horrible person. I am so sad about your Mom….and I hope justice is served.

  2. Amie says:

    Thank you so much Alice, and I sure will!

  3. Alice Knoeferl says:

    I was a close friend to you're mother sorry for you're loss.she will never be forgotten I loved her like my sister I pray you will get closure tell David Alice said hi thanks

  4. Praying for the families!

  5. I pray that someone comes forward. God be with the family and friends.

  6. Thank you all for the kind words.

  7. I just read the case file. I can’t believe that the jury found Huff innocent. Annie I hope you find out who killed your mother and that you and your family finally receive justice.

  8. Very sad story…I have old friends on Iowa cold cases…

  9. Love and miss you so much mom

  10. I pray someone comes forward. Prayers sent to the family and friends.

  11. Teresa Byrum says:

    in the late 70’s to 80’s Robert D house was a kid and he hit an elderly woman in the head with a board and robbed her ,he was a suspect in Davenport,they couldn’t prove it b/c he had broke down an old tire and hid the money there and they never found it..he knew where she kept the money b/c he mowed her lawn and watched her get it out of the cabinet to pay him…he was born in 1960 I lived with him for 5 years in early 2000 and he told me about this crime…he said he regretted it b/c she later died in the hospital. He put the money in a tire and put the tire back on his truck. He lives in Russellville,AR. And the local police have a file on him for stealing.

  12. **her hair is blowing over her cheek, not the dog’s hair (gorgeous dog too!)

  13. Can’t wait for everyone to see her smile :-) :-) Any idea if it was her dog in the one photo where he hair is blowing over her cheek??-Kerry

  14. Aime, I just got the Polaroids in the mail at 4pm today! I will be posting them tomorrow on the website case summary and also here on Facebook (will publish online Thursday) and then mailing them back to you with a few extra copies that I will make on photo paper that you can frame. Thank you very much for trusting I.C.C. with your only photos; I promise they are in good hands. Its so important for all of us to remember her as a beautiful vibrant woman and mother! –Kerry at I.C.C.

  15. my grandpa and mom got me that dog when I was young his name was bear. it will be nice to have a picture with her name on the sight

  16. thank you so much for everything :)

  17. Amie, I can’t get a private message to go through so here is my mailing address–It is in the phone book so it’s no secret:
    Kerry Connolly
    8134 Hardwicke Dr.
    Johnston, IA 50131
    Note: I will be out of town July 27 through August 4. If you could mail it to me today or Monday so I get it this week I can get it back to you before I leave, otherwise send it after August 4th. (Luckily my folks are staying at my house while I’m gone). Thanks again, Kerry at I.C.C.

  18. Amie, I will take utmost care of your only photo so please send it on over to me!! I even have the software and scanners to make multiple copies in color and/or black and white suitable for framing and I will send you back the original and also some extra glossy photo paper copies in different sizes.

    I am lucky to have an excellent mail carrier but just in case do make a copy when you mail it. We never know when the post office will lose something. (I have never had this happen but better safe than sorry.)

    It is a terrific idea getting it scanned but also I know it’s expensive depending on where you go. So…if you can’t get it scanned into digital format at your nearby pharmacy, would please mail it to me? I will let you know when I receive it (your last mail to me arrived in just a couple days), then let you know when it is posted on your Mom’s case summary, and finally let you know when it and the extra copies I will create for you is mailed back to you — and I will send it back registered mail so you will have a tracking number!! :-) This way there is no need to include any type of self addressed envelope this way; it’s the least I can do!!

    I am sending you a private message here on Facebook with my mailing address. If by any chance you decide to take it to Walgreen’s or wherever to get it scanned to email in digital form, please let know.

    We treat every case with respect for the Victim, the Victim’s family and friends, and all of the wonderful volunteers and members of Law Enforcement. Sandra Kinney died too young and losing her is nothing short of tragic. Thank you so much for sharing her photo with us. The more information we can get out there the better the chances someone might remember something. Sending you my mailing address now. Respectfully, Kerry Connolly

  19. I forgot to add, my email addy is

  20. Amie, hello this is Kerry who worked with you to get your Mom’s case updated on our website earlier this year. I hope that you are doing well and getting through a very rough week for you and your family. I am truly sorry for your loss.

    The police officers that I have talked to in Davenport about her case have been fantastic about sharing information. Unfortunately, no new leads have surfaced thus far that have resulted in any arrests. We have posted every bit of information that is out there about Ms. Kinney’s homicide but we are lacking photographs of your Mom.

    I am humbly asking if you have any photographs of your mother that we could post on our website? If you do please feel free to contact me so I can give you my mailing address and of course I would mail them back to you in the exact same shape as I receive them. Or, you could email them to me if you have a photo or photos that have been scanned or in any kind of digital form.

    Thank you, Amie. Again, I am sorry for your loss.

    Respectfully, Kerry Connolly at I.C.C.

  21. Amie – If you go to walmart or walgreens with your photo’s you can scan them there to email ICC . Thoughts and prayers and may justice be found soon ::hugs::

  22. I am so sorry dana, I only know the pain of losing a mother like that but I still understand and feel you’re pain, I hope to beadle to read the story of it one day.. thank you for commenting to it means more than u will ever no

  23. I will send u a picture but its the only one I have, do I need to make a copy or send a self addressed envelope I am unable to upload it myself

  24. Amie i agree with you my husband was murdered and i pray everyday that someone comes forward with.any infromation and it gets solved so i can close that chapter of my life. I know your pain

  25. Love you! I may have never met you, but you raised an amazing woman who is my best friend in the world, and i would do anything to bring some justice!! <3 <3 <3

  26. ily mom, please share.. some pos murdered my mom and she with many many other deserve justice.. lets do this people lets put these pos in prison

    • Blaster28 says:

      I hope I can put the man who did this to your family behind bars for the rest of his life. I wonder if he could be linked to other murders.

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