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Timothy C. Earney, 29, was found dead in his 322 N. Eighth St. Albia home on Thursday, Feb. 2, 1984, by his live-in girlfriend, Dorothy Lee Kempf, 45.
He’d been shot twice in the head.
According to Kempf, Earney drove her to work at Kendall school at 7 a.m. and was supposed to pick her up at 1 p.m. When he didn’t show up, Kempf said she walked home and found Earney lying on the living room floor.
Investigators quickly centered their attention on Kempf’s estranged husband, 48-year-old Harold G. Kempf of 317 W. Fifth St. in Ottumwa.
Mrs. Kempf had lived with Earney in Albia after leaving her husband just over one month earlier in late December. Papers filed at the Wapello County Courthouse in Ottumwa show that Mrs. Kempf told investigators her husband had threatened to kill Earney and was in the victim’s house “on at least one occasion while armed with a handgun,” the Des Moines Register reported Feb. 16, 1984.
State Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Bennet conducted Earney’s autopsy and reported Earney died from a gunshot wound.
Kempf also told investigators her husband threatened to throw a gasoline bomb through the window of Earney’s home and made “various threats on Earney’s life” in the presence of several witnesses, Monroe County Sheriff Dennis M. Carr said in a statement filed with applications for search warrants.
On January 1, Harold Kempf, a laborer and carpenter, also told his estranged wife “he could get rid of Earney any time he wanted to,” Carr said in his statement.
Reported the Register’s Nick Lamberto:
In the application for warrants, officers said they were looking for information “pertaining to written documents associated with murder, suicide or injury to other persons as well as dynamite and ammunition, clothing, rubber gloves and various firearms, rifles, shotguns and handguns.
On Feb. 4, Carr obtained three search warrants for Harold Kempf’s Ottumwa property. Carr later requested and was granted a fourth search warrant.
Officers indicated they were looking for guns, ammunition and clothing as well as various other items, the Albia Union-Republican reported on Thursday, Feb. 16, 1984. In the application for the fourth warrant, officers said they were looking for boxes of cleaning supplies and toilet paper addressed to Kendall School where Mrs. Kempf worked.
The Albia Union-Republican reported Feb. 16, 1984 that, according to reports filed Tuesday with the Wapello County clerk of court, items seized included:
The Wapello County Sheriff’s Department, Ottumwa and Albia police, and agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation assisted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department in executing the search warrants.
In one search warrant document on file at Ottumwa, Sheriff Car said investigators were seeking to match bullets and a gun with the head wound Earney died from, and also trying to find a rubber glove with a finger missing since a “rubbery substance belived to be the finger of a glove” was found by the body, the Registered said in the Feb. 16 article.
Ottumwa Magistrate Samuel K. Erhardt signed the warrants shortly after Earney’s death.
James L. Mitchell, superintendent of the Albia Community School District, confirmed Earney worked as a school bus driver and also helped deliver hot lunches from Lincoln Middle School to three elementary schools. On the day of his death, Mitchell said Earney drove his school bus route in the morning but failed to show up to deliver lunches at 10:30 a.m.
Mrs. Kempf also worked for the school district as a custodian at Kendall School. Mitchell said she hadn’t returned to work since Earney’s death and did not know where she was.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Earney’s unsolved murder was one of about 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA technology.
Federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit ran out in December 2011 and the unit shut down, 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 resolving 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.
Timothy Charles Earney, 29, of 322 N. Eighth St. died of a gunshot wound at his Albia, Iowa home Feb. 2, 1984.
He was born in Albia Dec. 21, 1954, the son of Charles Evan and Carolyn Kruse Earney. He worked as a bus driver and worked for the Albia Community School District.
Survivors included his mother, Carolyn Earney of Albia, two sisters, Kimberly Jaimes and Karen Earney, both of Des Moines, and grandfather, Marvin Kruse of Albia.
His father preceded him in death.
Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church with the Rev. Richard L. Sebeniecher officiating. Burial followed in Oakview Cemetery in Albia. Geyer Funeral Chapel was in charge of arrangements.
A memorial for Earney was established at Trinity United Methodist Church.
If you have any information about Timothy Earney’s unsolved murder please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at( 641) 932-7815.