Courtesy photo Cedar Rapids Gazette
Sheila Jean Collins

Sheila Jean Collins


Sheila Jean Collins
18 YOA
Iowa State University Student
Home Residence: Evanston, Ill.
Last seen in Ames, IA
Found in Rural Colo, IA
Story County (jurisdiction)
Case # 68-00287
Last Seen Alive: January 26, 1968
Body Found: January 28, 1968


Case Summary by Jody Ewing

On Sunday, January 28, 1968, Sheila Jean Collins, 18, of Evanston, Ill., was found lying face-down in a ditch off a gravel road four miles east of Nevada, Iowa, about 20 miles east of Ames.

Story County in Iowa
Story County in Iowa
Colo in Story CountyColo in Story County

Miss Collins — an Iowa State University coed who was headed home for the weekend — had been strangled with a nylon cord knotted around her neck. An autopsy report by Dr. John Powers of Ames showed that a pipe incorporated into the knot may have been used as a turning mechanism.

A father and son out fox hunting near the town of Colo in Story County found Collins’ body after the son spotted a foot in the shallow ditch.

Collins had arranged on Friday evening for a ride to her Evanston home through a bulletin board in the ISU’s Memorial Union, where students needing rides frequently posted notices.

Courtesy The Gazette, Jan. 29, 1968

Courtesy The Gazette, Jan. 29, 1968

The “Going My Way?” map was divided into numbered zones, and Collins had filled out a green card, indicating she wanted a ride home. Her card stated: “I need a ride to: DeKalb, Ill., or Chicago area; Date leaving: any Friday; Phone 294-1702.”

Collins told a friend she’d expected her boyfriend, a Northern Illinois University student, to come to Ames and drive her home for the weekend. He couldn’t make it, and some time before 8 p.m. Friday, January 26, Collins received the telephone call from someone offering her the ride home.

According to reports by the Story County Sheriff’s Department, Collins told a girlfriend she’d gotten a ride “in 10 minutes” but that she didn’t know the person’s name.

The caller told Collins to wait at the corner of Lincoln Way (on Highway 30) and Beech Street, the first main intersection entering the campus from the east. Collins then phoned her parents, James and Muriel Collins, to let them know she was getting a ride home. The friend said she’d helped Sheila pack and that she’d left the Elm Hall dormitory shortly thereafter.

Courtesy The Gazette, Feb. 20, 1968

Courtesy The Gazette, Feb. 20, 1968 (Click here for full news page)

According to a Des Moines Register article dated Jan. 30, 1968, the teen was last seen alive at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Friday standing near the heavily traveled intersection. When she failed to arrive at her parents’ home by noon on Saturday, they reported her missing.

About 2 p.m. Sunday, Dr. Roger Hogle of Ames and his son, Jeff, 8, were driving along a gravel road east of Nevada when Jeff told his father he saw something in the ditch that looked like a foot, the Register reported. Hogle went back, and once he saw a body, immediately drove to Nevada to notify the sheriff.

The petite ISU freshman, described as “the quiet, studious type,” was found partly clad with her belongings nearby. Her sweat shirt was pulled up around her neck and her panties, blue jeans, purse and suitcase were found just west of her body in a plowed farm field about six feet away and appeared to have been set on the ground just over a fence.

1968-1-30-Tue-DMR-p2-cropCourtesy Des Moines Register, Jan. 30, 1968
This Register article shows the 3×5-inch card Sheila Collins filled in to request a ride to DeKalb, Ill., or the Chicago area. Miss Collins had a boyfriend in DeKalb. Click here for article’s full content.

Authorities said the position of the body when found indicated Collins had been killed elsewhere and the body later placed in the ditch. Story County Sheriff Ivan Shalley said the body was found in a squatting position, resting on its knees and head. Collins’ dark woolen coat had been thrown over her body, partly covering her body and head.

Dr. William R. Bliss, the county medical examiner, said Collins had not been raped and that there was nothing to indicate sexual molestation. Still, due to how Collins’ body and clothing were found, he surmised the perpetrator had a sex deviation of some kind.

About Sheila Collins

Sheila Jeans Collins was born August 2, 1949 to James and Muriel Collins in Elmhurst, Illinois.

She graduated from Evanston Township High School in June 1967, and was studying English and speech at Iowa State University at the time of her death.

In addition to her parents, Sheila’s survivors included two younger sisters, Patricia and Lee.

Information Needed

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Sheila Collins’ murder was one of 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.

Although Federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI remains committed to resolving Iowa’s cold cases. The DCI will continue 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 will continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.

If you have any information about Sheila Collins’ unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email, or contact the Story County Sheriff’s Office at (515) 382-6566.

Sources and References:


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


28 Responses to Sheila Collins

  1. Christine Howard says:

    I knew Sheila well in high school. She was bright, vivacious and fun to be around. That this happened to her is more than terrible and that no one was ever caught is even worse.

  2. Jodi shondel says:

    I can’t help but think that this girl and my aunt’s deaths are connected. My aunt shelia harrison age 20 was found dead face down on a road in 1968 in webster county the man she was with was a sales man from ames.

    • Sydney says:

      Hi Jodi,
      My name is Sydney Novak and I am a student journalist working on an investigative project at Iowa State University. I would love to hear any insight you have about your aunts case. I think any insight you have would be really impactful for my project and I would appreciate it so much.

      • Jodi K Shondel says:

        Hello I just seen this

        • Patrick Kerrigan says:

          Jodi, can you share some more details on your Aunt Sheila’s murder if you know them. The other option is to provide a link to a newspaper article. Hi

          I assume it was solved, since it’s not listed as a Cold Case homicide.

  3. LakeLife says:

    Praying for justice for her!

  4. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    A Vicki Lynn Harrell (26) was found naked and strangled on Monday, August 14, 1972, two days after leaving work at a Bloomington, Indiana K-Mart on Saturday, August 12, 1972. Also, her body was found in a water filled ditch. Supposedly the initials (KN) had been carved into her body.

    Also, supposedly an investigator with the Indiana State Police believes that the offender in her case, was transient and may be connected to similar murders in Pennsylvania & Maryland. All the other victims , were from college towns, and had initials carved into their bodies. The initials are different. I have been unable to find any information on these other cases. The is no mention of initials being carved in to Sheila body.

  5. Cuqui says:

    In less than 10 minutes she got a ride that Friday night- suspicious or very bad luck

  6. StephieG says:

    I think it is possible John Norman Collins killed her. It is similar to his killings. Could he have passed through Iowa in Jan of 68?

    • Dan Rizzi says:

      It’s been a while since I read the book, but that’s exactly what I was thinking, StephieG.

  7. Tracy says:

    Herb doesn’t know anything. Just one of MANY who now troll the crime sites acting like they’re experts when in reality they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

    They watch an episode of Law & Order, CSI and Silence of the Lambs and are now profilers. His type has ruined all these sites. I usually ignore comments sections and of course sites like Reddit are flooded with his type.

  8. Herb Hunter says:

    She was the first. The fibers should still be there. But she was his sloppy one. He took her home to Nevada and did it in his home, not his car. He knew the area where he dumped her since he lived in Nevada when he went to school in Ames.

    She represented the girl he could never get but pined after, and his pattern on Shelia was the same as the Waverly Three.

    He picked her up for a weekend trip home. He took her to the house he was moving out of on his way home, and used her like an object only to take her shoes and dump her on the side of a gravel road he sorta knew.

    But Shelia was the first and the one where the most mistakes were made. Check the fibers and prints with modern forensics. . .

    • Prunella says:

      How do you know this, Herb?

    • Jodi shondel says:

      Are you talking about shelia harrison? If so that was my mother’s sister I don’t know how they have never linked this with my aunt’s death.

      • Patrick Kerrigan says:

        Jodi, could you share some details on Sheila Harrison’s death. You reference a salesman from Ames. Yet, according to a posting on Find a Grave, she was riding in a car driven by a young man from Fort Dodge. The vehicle got stuck in a ditch, and she went to get help. This seemed odd, since it’s supposed to be the guy, who goes to get help.

        Also, I assume there was an arrest in her murder. The other thing is that many law enforcement agencies were not big on sharing stuff about their cases with other agencies.

        This was prior to computers and other forms on information sharing telecommunications resources. Also, there is concerns about who gets the credit. This issue exists among many federal law enforcement agencies. FBI was not exactly appreciated, because they took credit for stuff other agencies did.

  9. send me some stuff about missing infants and or pregnant missing or murdered females from 1960’s…james stuart green wasa murderous raping homosexual sociopath

  10. Jon Benet Ramsey died the same way in her basement.

  11. I pray someone comes forward.

  12. This cold case bothers me to this day. I guess it’s because she was only a year older than me. I was still in high school when she was murdered. :(

  13. rmbisdumb says:

    When the perp is caught, it will surprise no one that is is a Democrat.

  14. Hector Avalos says:

    Another great source is an award-winning article in the Ames Tribune:

  15. rmb says:

    Hope that jerkoff DA got what was coming to him. That he was a Republican should surprise no one.

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