Terry L. Johnston (Courtesy photo)

Terry Leon Johnston


Terry Leon Johnston
55 YOA
Clinton, IA and
Princeton, IA
Clinton County
Mississippi River
Investigating Agencies: Clinton Police Department and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
Body Found: October 1, 1997


Case Information compiled by Carol Kean
Clinton County in Iowa
Clinton County in Iowa
Clinton in Clinton CountyClinton in Clinton County

A missing 55-year-old Clinton County man, Terry Leon Johnston, was found dead in the Mississippi River Wednesday, Oct. 1, 1997, in Princeton, Iowa.

Less then a week before he was murdered, Johnston filed a police report naming people who had threatened to kill him and throw him in the river, his family says.

“When he came up missing we knew exactly what happened to him,” a source who asked not to be identified by name told Iowa Cold Cases in March 2019. “We went to the police. We pleaded (with) them to do something. Still the police would not listen. The family found a couple boats and went looking up and down the river for days.”

First located by a fisherman, Johnston’s body was recovered from the river about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, 1997.

Terry L. Johnston
(Courtesy photo)

An autopsy performed at Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines on Thursday afternoon confirmed the body was that of Terry L. Johnston. The cause of death was not revealed. Johnston’s address also was not released at the time. 

The Clinton Police Department, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Clinton County Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation into Johnston’s death.

A few days after Johnston filed the police report, his car was found by walkers with the driver side door open. Instead of fingerprinting his car, officials had it towed to the house where Johnston was staying at that time.

Killers allegedly known to family, police, and attend funeral

Locals said there’s no doubt as to who killed Johnston and that he was chased from his car to the river.

“We know who killed Terry Johnston. The cops know who did it. But [there is] not enough evidence,” the source said. “Sometimes I see one of them that was involved post comments on our scanner pages. Makes me sick to my stomach. They are still running around free as birds, still bragging about what they got away with.”

Of the alleged multiple suspects, the woman and her kids went to Johnston’s funeral, which resulted in a call to police. 

“The woman and her ex-husband moved to California or somewhere a couple years after he was killed. Then the two came back and was bragging how they just ran someone over and killed them. And they came back here to hide.”

The main suspect recently returned to the area after living in Florida for years.

“Yeah and I’m laying here wondering if these people will see that I have put this [information] on all the scanner pages and come hunt me down and kill me,” the source told ICC.

The man was given a polygraph, she said, but failed it. And, she said, polygraphs aren’t admissible in court.

A Motive for Murder

Johnston’s family also believes they know why he was killed.

“He was supposed to get a cash settlement from being struck by a car on his bicycle. They thought he got the money already,” one relative told Iowa Cold Cases. “They killed him for the settlement.”

Worse, she says Johnston was “kinda dating one of the ones involved.”

The people involved lived directly across the street from the boat dock, she said. 

She also had some other observations.

“He was in the water too long. I was told he wasn’t even identifiable except for his tattoo.”

“They actually exhumed his body because we all threw such a fit. Dug him back up.”

“They chased him from his car to the river. When he was found one shoe was missing from his foot.”

“It could have come off while he was being chased.”

“A fisherman found his body.”

“We searched all over where his car was and by the boat dock.”

“When he came up missing we knew exactly what happened to him.”

One of Johnston’s biological daughters said the DCI eventually stopped contacting the family. The Clinton Police Department told family members the case was a homicide, but also “dropped off all contact several years ago.”

The murderers are still living free, bragging about what they did, Johnston’s family said.

Terry Johnston
(Courtesy photo)

About Terry Johnston

Terry Leon Johnston was born June 12, 1942, in Clinton, Iowa.

He lived at 808 7th Ave. So. in Clinton, Iowa.

Services were held at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, 1997, at Snell-Zornig Funeral Home in Clinton.

Johnston’s remains were laid to rest at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Clinton.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about Terry Leon Johnston’s unsolved murder is urged to contact the Clinton Police Department at 563-243-1457, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at 515-725-6010, or Clinton County Crime Stoppers at 888-883-8015.

  • Area deaths: Terry Johnston,” Quad-City Times, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 1997, Page 12
  • Correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases from Terry Johnston’s family, March 2019
  • Facebook comments and/or correspondence with Johnston’s daughters
  • “Body found in river identified,” The (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA) Gazette, Friday, Oct. 3, 1997, Page 1, Section B
  • Missing Clinton man’s body found,” The Des Moines Register, Friday, Oct. 3, 1997, Page 25


6 Responses to Terry Johnston

  1. Joseph W Teske says:

    Madonna robbins was dating Terry brian was her ex he was meeting her at walkers …

  2. Joseph W Teske says:

    Brian rose….hance and Joseph robbins sr killers…..joseph jr tainted car

  3. Joseph W Teske says:

    The car was not place in an impound it was placed in a garage where the murderers family member was able to taint the evidence their wass a boot print on the passenger door wonder if they got pics….and a gentlman reported seeing someone getting chaswd nd beat up

  4. Bridgette Suzanne Ebersohl says:

    Come on there so much technology today why are they not working on these cold case I know his daughter stacy personally I was hanging around stacy at about the same time he went missing … Now mind you I know at least two of the people involved the 3rd person I’ve heard he’s really bad news I’m a person that believes in a eye for an eye I so hope they all get caught and they get what’s coming to them MAY U REST IN PEACE TERRY

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