Johnson County in Iowa

Johnson County in Iowa

Unidentified Baby John Doe

Homicide

Unidentified Baby John Doe
Newborn
Found in Iowa City Landfill
Iowa City, IA
Johnson County
December 21, 1992

Case Summary by Jody Ewing

Four days before Christmas in 1992, a worker from a Kalona, Iowa sanitation firm found a naked, newborn baby boy’s body in a pile of trash at the Iowa City Landfill west of Iowa City.

Baby feet

The caucasian infant — identified by the medical examiner as Baby John Doe — weighed 9 pounds and 3 ounces.

The landfill worker discovered the body on a Monday over the noon hour.

Despite below freezing temperatures early in the day, the baby’s body was not frozen. Pathologists told police the weather had been cold and cloudy enough to preserve the infant’s body for a longer period of time.

The baby, police said, could have been picked up on a route used by Iowa City Transfer & Storage Co. or by a private contractor who used a van to collect refuse.

Two other dump trucks used the landfill during the noon hour the day the boy was found. A vehicle from Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa had visited the landfill before noon to dump some mattresses, though Iowa City Police Chief R.J. Winkelhake said landfill operators believed the baby arrived after the Goodwill truck had already gone.

Iowa City Landfill Courtesy photo City of Iowa City
The Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center takes in approximately 125,000 tons of trash each year. It is about 400 acres in size — around half of which contains buried trash.

Investigators concentrated on the areas where trash had been picked up that Monday, which included sections of southern Iowa City, Coralville apartment complexes and the smaller towns of Lone Tree and Hills. They conducted numerous door-to-door and face-to-face interviews, and also spoke to those with knowledge about commercial dumpsters in Hills and Lone Tree.

In an early January 1993 public briefing, Winkelhake told reporters police were still puzzled about how the baby died and how he ended up in the landfill. Nor did they know who the mother was or where she might be.

“Somebody knows exactly what happened,” Winkelhake said in a Cedar Rapids Gazette article published January 9, 1993. “We don’t know who that is at this point, but I think, for everybody’s sake, we would like to be able to resolve this matter. Everybody gets emotional with a child, and so everybody needs to know what happened out there.”

Winkelhake said the baby might have been born anywhere from five to seven days before he was found. Johnson County Medical Examiner T.T. Bozek had originally estimated a shorter time frame somewhere between a few minutes to 24 hours.

It is unknown if the newborn belonged to a local resident or whether he was dumped by someone just passing through.

Approximately 50 people attended “Baby John Doe’s” funeral. The infant was then laid to rest in Iowa City’s Oakland Cemetery.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding this unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa City Police Department at 319-356-5275.

Sources:

 

Copyright © 2017 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

11 Responses to Unidentified Baby John Doe 1992

  1. This still makes me sick..poor baby being tossed into the trash like that..I hope the person who did this never finds peace EVER!

  2. If she didn’t want him and couldn’t take care of him, she should have put him up for adoption. And even if he was stillborn, he didn’t deserve this.

  3. My son was 10 days old when this happened. I think of this baby every December. I used to pass by the place where he was found nearly every day……

  4. I remember this…my firstborn son was only 10 days old. My husband and parents tried to shield me from hearing about the baby. :'( so very, very sad….

  5. I just cannot for the life of me understand how a woman could go to all the trouble of having her baby and then do this. If she can’t care for it and doesn’t want it, people would stand in line to adopt it.

  6. Diana Wilson says:

    So sad. I agree with Sarah Rushton.

  7. This is sad RIP sweet baby

  8. Anon says:

    All they had to do was cross reference the addresses with the recent birth records from local hospitals. Law enforcement investigations override HIPAA.

  9. Melanie Wood says:

    THIS MAKES ME SICK AND ANGRY TO NO END! I am unable to to have children and SO MANY TAKE THIS GIFT FOR GRANTED! Especially dumped like Trash! And this was a BIG Baby. 9.3! No one noticed a REALLY PREGNANT WOMAN. THEN NOT. And not putting the pieces together?! I hope this haunts all involved for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts