Des Moines County

Des Moines County in Iowa

Cold Cases in Des Moines County, Iowa

*Please Note: The cases listed below are within Des Moines County but may fall under a city police department’s jurisdiction. They are included here for cross-reference purposes. More specific information may be found on each victim’s individual page.

 

Dorothy Miller

Dorothy Miller

Homicide
Dorothy H. Miller
48 YOA
118 Grand Street
Burlington, IA (Des Moines County)
Case # 69-00950
August 18, 1969

On Monday evening, August 18, 1969, 48-year-old Bolick Realty saleswoman Dorothy Miller was raped and stabbed 22 times when she went to show an unoccupied, two-story frame house at 118 Grand Street in Burlington, Iowa.


Mary Lange

Mary Lange

Homicide
Mary Bernice Lange
37 YOA
Long Creek
Rural Danville, IA
Des Moines County
Case # 70-01291
December 17, 1970

Mary Bernice Lange — engaged in a bitter divorce with her husband Marvin — was found dead nine miles west of Burlington on December 17, 1970. The 37-year-old mother of three had been struck several times in the head and left to drown in Long Creek, a mere 15-minute drive in a path that led directly back to the couple’s farm.


Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller

Cause of Death: Undetermined
Lisa Elaine Miller
15 YOA
Sullivan Slough Rd.
Burlington, IA (Des Moines County)
Last Seen Alive: October 7, 1977
Body found October 9, 1977
Est. Date of Death: October 8, 1977

On Sunday, Oct. 9, 1977, six days after her parents reported her as a runaway, Lisa Elaine Miller, 15, was found dead in a wooded area off lower Sullivan Slough Road near the Iowa Southern Utilities generating station 3-1/2 miles southeast of Burlington, Iowa. An autopsy ruled cause of death as undetermined.


James Harsch

James Harsch

Homicide
James A. Harsch
31 YOA
Burlington, IA (Des Moines County)
Case # 78-03075
May 13, 1978

On May 13, 1978, the Burlington Police Department received a call and discovered the badly decomposed body of James A. Harsch in his trailer.

 


Audrey Dill

Audrey Dill

Missing Person
Audrey Dill
Age at Report: 32
Incident Type: Involuntary disappearance
Missing From: Burlington, IA
Des Moines County
Missing Since: August 18, 1978
Estimated Date of Death: August 15, 1978

Audrey Dill was reported missing to the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office in Burlington, Iowa, on August 18, 1978. She was last seen wearing blue jeans and a blouse.


Missing Person
Crystal Leann Steward
Age at Report: 11
DOB: June 11, 1989
Weight: 135 lbs.
Height: 5’08”
Race: White
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue
Sex: Female
Incident Type: Juvenile
Missing From: Burlington, IA
Des Moines County (jurisdiction)
Missing Since: May 8, 2001

Crystal Steward was reported missing to the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office in Burlington, Iowa, on May 8, 2001. She was last seen wearing a black jersey with the number 10 on it, black jogging pants and white Adidas tennis shoes.


Homicide
Terry Lee Page
36 YOA
1205 Franklin Street
Burlington, IA
Des Moines County
Investigating Agency: Burlington Police Department
June 25, 2013

Terry Lee Page, 36, of Burlington, Iowa, was shot and killed outside his 1205 Franklin Street residence on the edge of North Hill in the early morning hours Tuesday, June 25, 2013.


Steven Leasure

Steven Leasure

Missing Person
Steven Ray “Stevie” Leasure
Age at Report: 52
Weight: 200 lbs.
Height: 5’10”
Race: White
Hair: Unknown or Completely Bald
Eyes: Blue
Sex: Male
Incident Type: Endangered / physical
Case Number: 15-15321
NamUs MP Number: 29265
Missing From: Burlington, Iowa
Des Moines County
Investigating Agency: Burlington Police Department
Missing Since: May 2, 2015

Steven Leasure, 52, was reported missing to the Burlington Police Department in Burlington, Iowa, on May 02, 2015. He was last seen riding his blue GT bicycle, which was found June 9, 2015. The Burlington Police Department and the Iowa Department of Public Safety have classified Leasure’s disappearance as “Endangered / Physical,” meaning a person of any age who is missing under circumstances indicating that his/her physical safety is in danger.

One Response to Des Moines County

  1. Anon says:

    An unsolved murder that should be listed in the Des Moines County page is the 1969 murder of 18-month-old Jeffrey J. Rose who had injuries to his genitals, buttocks, and head, with brain injury and a blood clot on the brain. He died after being “physically corrected” after his mother, Diana May Rose (who later became Diana May Miller) and her boyfriend, William Edward Miler, had used “physical correction” on him while toilet training him. William was criminally charged but acquitted. Diana married William while the case was going on.

    I am going to post a few news articles here:

    From the Boone News Republican, April 14, 1969 at page 5:

    Study Charges in Child Death- BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Additional charges may be filed against a man in the child beating case of a baby who died Sunday in Iowa City, authorities say.

    Des Moines County Atty. Desmond Waples said he was studying Sunday what additional charged should be filed against William Edward Milar, 21, of Ottumwa. Milar was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily injury after doctors notified police Saturday that 18-month-old Jeffrey J. Rose had been brought to a Burlington hospital with injuries apparently from beatings, Waples said.

    Milar was arrested in Iowa City Saturday night.

    The baby’s mother, Diana May Rose, 21, of Burlington, told police she and Milar had been attempting to toilet train Jeffrey Thursday when the boy became stiff and unconscious after he was physically corrected for wetting his pants, police said.

    She took him to the hospital Saturday.

    Doctors there notified police and rushed little Jeffrey to Iowa City where he underwent surgery Saturday night. He died about 1:30 pm Sunday.

    An autopsy was scheduled Sunday night to determine the exact cause of death. Doctors said Jeffery showed bruises about his head, genital organs, and buttocks.

    From the Ottumwa Courier- January 17, 1970 at page 8:

    Prosecution fights motion in Miler case.

    Des Moines County Attorney Alan Waples has filed notice in District Court at Burlington that he intends to fight a defense motion to suppress evidence in the murder case against 22-year-old William Edward Miler of Keokuk, a former Ottumwan. The prosecution asks the court to set a hearing date soon to determine whether or not Miler’s wife may testify against him.

    Miler is accused of killing 19- month-old Jeffrey J. Rose in April of 1969. The little boy died in Iowa City following brain surgery. He was transferred to University Hospitals after his mother had taken him to a Burlington hospital unconscious from severe head injuries. The child’s mother, then Diane Lee Rose, testified at a preliminary hearing April 17 in Burlington Municipal Court, after which Edwards was released.

    The July grand jury renewed the indictment against Miler, however, a few days after he and Miss Rose were married in Keokuk. Defense lawyers are seeking an order prohibiting the state from calling her to the witness stand and from submitting any of her previous
    testimony into evidence.

    My thoughts on the above article: What sort of twisted values did it take for Diana to marry the man who authorities said beat her child to death?

    From the Ottumwa Courrier, May 29, 1971 at page 12:

    BIRTHS – … May 29 to Mr. and Mrs. William Miler Sr. of Keokuk, a daughter; the father is a former Ottumwan.

    My thoughts on the above: How could she allow her son’s alleged murderer into her body???!!! Jeffrey died in April 1969. Melissa (the baby girl) wasn’t born until 1971. That necessarily means that Diana was having sexual intercourse with William after the death of Jeffrey.

    From the Burlington Hawk Eye June 11, 1971 at page 7:

    Testimony is heard on child’s injuries.

    By BILL MERTENS

    An Iowa City pathologist who two years ago performed the autopsy on the body of 19-month-old Jeffrey Rose testified Friday in the murder trial of William Edward Miler that
    death was by a blow to the head caused by more than a simple fall.

    Dr. Earl F. Rose said the head injury and the numerous other bruises found on the body of the child had been received between 12 and 48 hours before the time of death. The child died at 1:35 p.m., Sunday, April 13, 1969, in University hospitals in Iowa City following surgery to remove a blood clot from the brain.

    Miler, 23, now of Keokuk, was charged With murder following the death, but the charge was dropped after Municipal Judge Gary J. Snyder refused to bind Miler over to the grand jury. Five months later a grand jury indicted Miler on an open charge of murder, to which he pleaded innocent in October, 1969.

    Blunt-type Injury Dr. Rose testified the head injury was a “blunt-type injury”, as opposed to a head injury caused by a fall. He said a fall on a sharp instrument would “usually always leave some mark,” and he said there were no such marks on the head of Jeffrey. Bruises were found on the left and right side of the child’s forehead.

    He said the blunt-type injury “could have been the type injury received from a man’s fist,” and said unconsciousness would have been rendered “almost immediately.”

    Autopsy Slides

    Prosecution attorneys also introduced into evidence 17 slides of the bruises on the
    child’s lower body and crosssections of the brain taken during the autopsy.

    Johnson county medical examiner Dr. T. T. Bozek of Iowa City also testified the cause of death was a head injury. He described all other body bruises as “non-fatal injuries.” Dr. Bozek, who ordered the autopsy, testified the child’s mother, now Mrs. Diane Miler, told him the child had been spanked and “indicated Bill Miler did the spanking.” Dr. Bozek said the mother told him the child had started vomiting Friday, two days before death.

    Child Was Listless

    “She said the child appeared listless Saturday morning and had no appetite,” he said. Dr. Bozek said Miss Rose told him she went shopping about 2 p.m. Saturday (April 12), at which time she put the child to bed. When she returned about 90 minutes later, Bill Miler
    attempted to arouse the youth and the “child was not responsive,” Dr. Bozek said he was told.

    He said Miss Rose did indicate “they had problems training the child, and they had spanked the child.” The sandy-haired, bespectacled Miler sat tightlipped and expressionless by his attorneys through the first day of testimony Thursday and the previous two days of jury selection. He heard Dr. Foss and Dr. R.G. Paragas, a Burlington pediatrician who also treated Jeffrey that Saturday, tell a jury of 11 men and one woman there were bruises on the head, left side, both buttocks, and groin area of Jeffrey when brought to the emergency room.

    Nurse Testifies

    Testimony was also given Thursday by Mrs. Janet Dellsite, a registered nurse who cared for Jeffrey on the ambulance trip from the Burlington hospital to Iowa City about 5:30
    p.m. April 12.

    Mrs. Dellsite said the child had several convulsions during the 50-minute trip end vomited about seven times, She said the child’s mother also rode in the ambulance but appear “rather complacent” and “composed.” Both doctors said the child already showed signs of brain damage when brought to the hospital because he would not respond to several reflex-type tests. Both also indicated the child had received the numerous bruises in from 12 to 48 hours before he was brought to the hospital. When asked to give his opinion as to what may have caused the bruises Foss said he felt “one possibility was that
    the child had been mistreated and beaten.”

    Dr. Paragas said it was his opinion it “was a child abuse,” and informed Iowa City of his opinion when the child was transferred.

    From the Burlington Hawkeye, June 17, 1971 at page 1:

    Mrs. Miler ‘requested’ discipline

    By BILL MERTENS

    The mother of 19-month-old Jeffrey Rose, flatly denied Monday that William Miler ever showed dislike or jealousy for the child, or ever disciplined the child without her approval.
    Diana Rose Miler, 23, who married Miler July 12, 1969 — three months after the death of the Rose child — took the stand as a “hostile” prosecution witness.

    Court resumed at 9 a.m. Monday after a weekend recess in the murder trial of Miler, 23, now of Keokuk, who was charged after the April 13, 1969, death of the Rose child. Jeffrey
    died in Iowa City following brain surgery. Cause of death was reported to be a head injury.
    Mrs. Miler underwent over two hours of questioning by county attorney E. Dean Metz, during which she disputed earlier testimony given by several other witnesses and refuted many statements she made in a preliminary hearing two years ago in municipal court.

    “Bill was very good to Jeffy,” Mrs. Miler said. “Jeffy liked Bill but didn’t like Bill and I to show our affection to one another because he was jealous.”

    She described the child as spoiled because she didn’t like to discipline him, but said she
    had asked Miler to discipline Jeffrey. She said he “undertook some discipline because I asked him to,” but he never did it without her approval.

    Spanked Child

    “I usually had to tell him to do it,” she added. Mrs. Miler said she asked Miler to spank the child Thursday, April 10, three days before the child’s death, and said Miler took the child over his knee and swatted him “two or three times.” She said the spanking caused the bruises to the groin and buttocks area testified to by several doctors and hospital employees who testified earlier. Metz referred to the transcript of the 1969 preliminary
    hearing — in which Municipal Judge Gary J. Snyder refused to bind Miler over to the grand jury — and asked Mrs. Miler why now she said “two or three” swats when
    before she said more.

    No Immunity

    (The transcripts of her testimony at that municipal court hearing were made available only after several months of court proceedings and a Iowa Supreme Court ruling stating husbands and wives have no immunity of testimony in child abuse cases.)

    The sandy-haired Mrs. Miler, her voice and composure failing a little as she referred to the time following the death of her son, said she said some things “that were untrue” at the hearing. “At the time of the preliminary hearing .. . I was made to believe Bill had done
    something wrong and I was mad and I said things that weren’t true,” she said.

    ‘Upset by Death’

    “I was trying to make it look as bad for Bill as I could,” she said and added she was still extremely upset by Jeffrey’s death and almost four months pregnant with another child.

    “I just wanted them to leave me alone,” she said. She said the police had given her the impression Bill had done something wrong.

    Mrs. Miler said she was told by University hospitals officials that bleeding on the child’s brain was from a bruise on his forehead, but said she didn’t know how the child received the bruise.

    She said the child fell down quite often and said Miler guessed the child had fallen and struck his head. Neither knew when the bruise was received, she said. She could not recall bruises covering most of the child’s forehead as earlier witnesses testified.

    Mrs. Miler also quickly denied ever telling anyone Miler “had dropped the child on it
    head.” Two earlier witnesses Bonnie Garman, a neighbor and Donald Henry, a newsman testified they heard Mrs. Miler say Miler had dropped the child. She said a policeman asked her at the Burlington hospital if the child had been dropped on his head, “and I denied it,” she said.

    Denies ‘Beating’

    She denied police reports that she ever told them Miler “beat” he child. She said she got the impression at the hospital that police “thought we had done something.” She said she noticed Friday the child apparently didn’t feel well, and Saturday she said he was “listless and very, very white.”

    Mrs. Miler said she put Jeffrey to bed upstairs in the 343 Grimes Ct. apartment in the afternoon while she went grocery shopping. She said when she returned the child was
    downstairs with Miler. She said the child was lying on the bed and “his legs were stiff and his eyes were staring.”

    Mrs. Miler then broke down in front of the jury of 11 men and one woman.

    I hardly know where to begin when reading this. What sort of a sick parent tells their boyfriend to hit their eighteen or nineteen-month-old? What sort of woman marries the man accused of killing her toddler? What was going on that she lied on the stand, either at the trial, or at an earlier hearing?

    William Milar was acquitted. Diana was never prosecuted.

    From the Ottumwa Courier July 14, 1972, at page 3:

    Galen Miler Jr. and Donna Davis from California have been visiting in Ottumwa. They came to attend the class reunion of Galen Miler. They were guests of Mr. and Mrs.
    Michael Vinyard and of Mrs. Edward Snelling and of Neoma Miler. Other guests of Mrs. Snelling were Mr. and Mrs. William Miler Sr., William Jr., and Melissa of Keokuk and Mr.
    and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Snelling and children of Texas

    In 2013, William Milar’s misleading obituary read:

    William E. Miler, 65, of Chariton, Iowa, died at 11:04 AM Saturday, August 3, 2013, at Circle of Life Legacy Lodge in Chariton, Iowa.

    William was born September 9, 1947 in Ottumwa, Iowa, a son of Galen K. and Neoma Snelling Miler, Sr. He married Diana Rose of Keokuk, on September 12, 1969, in Keokuk, Iowa. She survives.

    He lived in Hamilton, Illinois, for 22 years; in Solon, Iowa, from 1996 to 2009; and in Chariton for the last three years. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Western Illinois University at Macomb, Illinois. He was employed as facilities, grounds, and safety supervisor for Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

    In addition to his wife, Diana, he is survived by a son, William E. “Will” Miler, II of North Liberty, Iowa; a daughter, Melissa M. Burbridge (Jim) of Chariton, Iowa; three grandchildren, Grace Miler, Abigail Burbridge and A.J. Burbridge; two brothers, Galen Miler, Jr. of Arizona and Roger Miler of Ottumwa, Iowa; his stepmother, Marylin Miler of Bloomfield, Iowa; and several brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

    He was preceded in death by his parents, his grandparents, and a son in infancy, Jeffery J. Miler.

    My comments on the obituary are these: First of all, Jeffrey was not his son. Second of all, Jeffrey’s surname was Rose, not Miler. Thirdly, Jeffrey was a toddler, not an infant. Fourthly, why would Diana have stayed with him all these years?

    Just who in the family wrote this misleading language in the obituary, and for what purpose?

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