Webster County in Iowa
Fort Dodge in Webster County
William Henry Freimuth
William H. Freimuth, a 71-year-old Fort Dodge service station attendant, was shot in the back of the head around 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 16, 1961, by a gunman who took $140 from the cash register.
The elderly Freimuth had been working alone in the Fawkes Standard service station — located on Highway 20 about six blocks east of the Fort Dodge business district — while another employee was away from the station for between 10 and 15 minutes.
After the second employee returned to the gas station around 9:10 p.m., he found Freimuth on the floor in the station’s grease rack and notified police.
The Iowa Highway Patrol immediately began a statewide search for the assailant but were unable to find Freimuth’s killer.
Courtesy Des Moines Register, Nov. 24, 1968
In a Des Moines Sunday Register article published November 24, 1968, reporter Nick Lamberto addressed more than a dozen recent unsolved murder cases across the state, including Freimuth’s.
“Why unsolved crimes?” Lamberto asked Robert Blair, chief of the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“You just have to have evidence to use to lead you to the person who committed a crime,” Blair said. “Without evidence, you have problems.”
Several of the cases Lamberto mentioned back in 1968 remain unsolved, and, like Freimuth, still have summaries on the Iowa Cold Cases website.
Some of those victims include:
- Judy Corbin, 17, a part-time Go-Go dancer, who was killed by a stab wound to the neck April 19, 1967.
- Sheila Jean Collins, an 18-year-old Iowa State University freshman found strangled to death Jan. 28, 1968, in a ditch by a gravel road 14 miles east of Ames.
- Ramona Jean Cox, a 24-year-old secretary found dead of a slashed throat in her Des Moines apartment on April 22, 1962.
- Donald Nervig, 52, a Des Moines businessman found dead Jan. 26, 1966, in a gully five miles northwest of Des Moines.
- Lillian Randolph, 57, of Guthrie Center, found dead in the trunk of her car at the Municipal Airport in Des Moines on May 11, 1965. She’d been stabbed 13 times in the chest.
- Rose Grandanette, a 33-year-old mother of three children, was fatally shot in the head in the doorway of her Windsor Heights home on Sept. 14, 1958.
- Marlene Padfield, 17, of Lisbon, went missing Feb. 18, 1959. Her body was found April 29 near a lover’s lane southeast of Cedar Rapids. She’d last been seen alive with the son of a Cedar Rapids business executive.
- William Meadows, the 36-year-old town marshal of Plainfield, was fatally shot the night of Jan. 23, 1961, while investigating a burglary.
- Dorothy Coon, a 38-year-old Des Moines divorcée, went missing Aug. 26, 1960. Her body was found three days later on a county road about 12 miles north of Chariton.
- Willard Woodring, 42, and Richard Buchanan, 49, were found shot to death in a Keokuk rooming house Oct. 9, 1960.
- Leon Groves, a 40-year-old Ruan cab driver, was found on the floor of his cab in a ditch at S.E. Eighteenth Street and Scott Avenue on Dec. 22, 1951. He’d been shot three times and his wallet was missing.
- George Geary, 40, was found shot to death at his service station at Keosauqua Way and Crocker Street on Jan. 13, 1963. About $252 had been stolen from the cash register.
One law enforcement official who declined to be quoted by name for the Register story said that in obvious crimes of passions, one would think it would be like amateur night with clues scattered all around.
“But either by luck or something, these so-called amateurs just don’t leave clues around like calling cards,” he told Lamberto.
Freimuth’s Murder Makes State’s New Cold Case Unit List
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Freimuth’s 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.
Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette, Aug. 1, 1961
Although federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, 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 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.
About William Freimuth
William Henry Freimuth was born February 1, 1890 in Manson, Iowa, to German immigrants Fred C. and Anna (Meyer) Freimuth.
Courtesy photo WCGS, findagrave.com
William Freimuth is buried at the Saint Paul Cemetery in Fort Dodge.
He married Anna Hasselbring on January 21, 1914.
Mr. Freimuth was laid to rest at the Saint Paul Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
If you have any information about William Freimuth’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Fort Dodge Police Department at (515) 573-1426.
- Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, former Cold Case Unit, December 5, 2009
- Iowa, Marriages, 1809–1992, FamilySearch.org
- William Henry Freimuth (1890 – 1961) — Find a Grave Memorial
- “Unsolved Iowa killings: friends ‘still feel scars’,” by Nick Lamberto, The Des Moines Sunday Register, September 8, 1974
- “List of ‘case open’ slayings in Iowa,” The Des Moines Register, September 8, 1974
- “The Growing List of Iowa’s Unsolved Murder Cases,” by Nick Lamberto, The Des Moines Sunday Register, November 24, 1968
- “Unsolved Slayings Climbing in Iowa,” by Pat Curran, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 26, 1965
- “Killings Go Unsolved,” by Pat Curran, The Mason City Globe Gazette, May 26, 1965
- “Unsolved Iowa Murders Defy All Probe Efforts,” by Pat Curran, The Centerville Iowegian, May 26, 1965
- “A Murder Case Is Never Closed,” by Dan Perkes, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Tues., August 1, 1961
- “Charge Two Gunmen With Omaha Killing; Accused of Another,” The Estherville Daily News,” February 23, 1961
- “It happened today,” The Ames Daily Tribune, February 17, 1961
- “Service station operator slain,” The Mason City Globe Gazette, Friday, February 17, 1961
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