Webster County in Iowa
Webster County in Iowa
Fort Dodge in Webster CountyFort Dodge in Webster County

William Henry Freimuth


William Henry Freimuth
71 YOA
Fawkes Standard Service Station
Highway 20
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Webster County
DCI Case # 61-00355
February 16, 1961


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.

william-freimuth-headstone-findagraveCourtesy 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.

Information Needed

If you have any information about William Freimuth’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us, or contact the Fort Dodge Police Department at (515) 573-1426.



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3 Responses to William Freimuth

  1. Melissa Maria (Ramirez) Kilman, Minnesota says:

    Wow! This information is interesting. William Freimuth is my my Great-Grandfather. Growing up as a child, I spent much time with my Grandma Charlotte (Freimuth) Arndt. She had told the story of her father. I had no idea the case had been put on this list.

  2. I hope they took a close look at the missing employee…oftentimes it’s someone they knew and who knew their schedule. Or they work together, with the employee using that as the reason they didn’t see anything. Might be worth a look to see where the employee’s friends and family are now. Have they had any arrests or are they in jail? If so, the answer may be right there.

  3. I pray someone comes forward. Even though it’s been years, I pray for the family and friends.

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