Lyon County in Iowa

Lyon County in Iowa

Cold Cases in Lyon County, Iowa


Wilma June Nissen

Wilma June Nissen

Wilma June Nissen
23 YOA
Lyon County, Iowa
Case # 78-06487
October 4, 1978

On the morning of Oct. 4, 1978, a telephone company employee stumbled upon Wilma June Nissen’s body while laying cable near West Lyon School on Highway 182. Nissen’s body, which investigators believe was dumped between July and August of that year, was so severely decomposed that her face was unrecognizable. Her lower jaw was missing, and only two whole teeth remained in her skull. She would not be identified by name until almost 30 years later.

10 Responses to Lyon County

  1. glenn kresge says:

    You be good to call the State! Iowa has DCI criminal Investigation.

  2. John Scollon says:

    I have a theory, based mostly on what I heard and saw on the evening of April 7th 1978. And something a retired Sioux Falls Policeman told me, along with info from the Wilma June Nissen cold case info.
    I think a Police Captain from a party at the FOP lodge #1 murdered Wilma June Nissen April 7th 1978.
    Prior to April 1978, I was walking past the FOP in old East Sioux with some friends. They were having a loud party with a lot of cheering going on, so we walked over and looked in an open door. The place was packed and they had Strippers giving a show. The girls were coming out the open door with guys and had some private sessions outside. Someone noticed us and told us this wasn’t for kids and told us to leave.
    (The Fraternal Order of Police is a fraternal organization consisting of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. It reports a membership of over 325,000 members organized in 2,100 local chapters, state lodges, and the national Grand Lodge. Wikipedia)
    30 some years later, I was talking to a guy on vacation, He said he was a retired Policeman from South Dakota. I told him I grew up just east of Sioux Falls. Somehow the FOP lodge #1 was brought up. I mentioned that I had seen some wild parties at the FOP when I was a kid. He started talking about some of the wild things they did at the FOP, He said that they use to have Hookers for the Parties. And that they had them at a remote location just over the state line, so that they wouldn’t get into trouble as much when if they got caught. He mentioned that the old wild days of the FOP were over. And that the meetings at the current FOP weren’t nothing like the old days. He said that the days of having Hookers ended when a girl was found murdered and that they weren’t sure if she was from one of their parties or not. And that they did their own investigation and didn’t think that she was from their party. But he wasn’t sure. But he thought that it was a turning point for the FOP, and that they turned into more of a community helping theme. Based on what I saw as a kid, no reason to think he wasn’t telling the truth.
    On April 7th 1978 some friends and I were walking into Gitchie Manitou State Preserve. It’s in the North West corner of Iowa 2 mile south of the FOP. We had parked in a parking spot on the state line and walked into the park. We heard some arguing behind some brush. It was dark and we didn’t see anyone. But we heard the arguing and what sounded like a guy wresting with a girl. And the guy was demanding that she give it to him. Then they’d wrestle some more and he’d demand she hand it over. Another voice sheepishly said, Come on Cap, let her have it she earned it. There was some silence and we heard a car door or trunk and then we heard a voice yell, NO just before the first shotgun blast. The Girl let out a scream, mid scream there was a second shot that silenced her. The shotgun kept shooting, and we all ran back to our car. We were a bit noisy getting to the car and were afraid to start the car. We saw the car lights from the area of the shots and they were heading to the other end of the park where the road entered the Preserve. It stopped for a few minute a short distance from the exit. We were discussing what we heard and we thought it was Law enforcement. We recalled that the one guy called the other Cap. And that this could have been a policeman pleading with his superior officer. It was dark but it looked like the car was white. Not black / white. It didn’t seem to have any shinny logo on the side. When it continued and left the Preserve, it went out of view and we were ready to take off north on the highway if it turned our direction. I didn’t notice or see lights on the roof. The car drove off into Iowa. We decided to drive into the Preserve and see what we could. When we entered the Preserve we drove up on a Truck and Cabover camper in the area that the car had stopped. Two guys in there mid 20s were standing next to the back camper door. We had to drive right past them. We were scared and thought for sure we were going to get shot. Our headlights were on them and they didn’t have any guns. They took a couple steps toward us, but just watched us drive by. It was a dead end into the Preserve and we had to turn around and drive past them again. They just watched us again. We got out of the Preserve and stopped and watched them at a distance. They started their truck and headed toward the exit, we notice a taillight out, and a running light that went out when the brakes were on. They turned our way and we had the impression that they were chasing us, and we took off down some gravel roads, got lost a bit. Seemed like an hour later, we came up behind them on a highway. There was a couple cars between us. We thought it was the Truck and Camper and when they hit their brakes, we knew it was the same truck. we decided to follow it and get a license plate number. Shortly after it turned right, it hit its blinker to go left down a gravel road. We didn’t feel comfortable turning right behind them, so we went down the highway a bit and turned around and came back to the gravel road they turned down. We soon came up on them, and they were parked on the side of the gravel road. I was in the back seat and Todd and Dean were in the front seats. They both said “there they are”, and then said that they are in the ditch, they were coming out and throwing something. I asked if it was a body. They both said no. then they said it was a shirt. At this point I can see the guy running to get into the passenger door, but I was focusing on the license plate. Dean was driving and Todd and I were trying to get the plate number. We passed them just as the guy got into the truck. and they must have recognized the car and gave chase. They gained on us fast. And I was yelling at Dean to go faster. I was looking back and Dean was slowing up for a one lane bridge that sent us airborne a bit. And I was looking back at the Truck and Camper about to run us over. It started swerving and had to get to the middle of the road to make the one lane bridge. The Truck was a one ton dually and he barely got centered on the bridge, the truck and camper went airborne and it looked like the camper was going to fall off. The truck was going too fast for the bridge and he got a little sideways in the air, and got sideways when it landed. The driver over corrected one way then the other, and the camper was rocking, but he straightened it out and started after us again. We got on pavement and they couldn’t keep up. This section of road before the bridge where the two were in the ditch is the same section they found Wilma June Nissen 6 months later. We later that night came up on them again. We follow them and they stopped and washed themselves in a run off creek north of Brandon S.D. a couple miles. We got the license plate again. 9803ME.
    I’ve talked to Lyons county a few times over the yrs. And they say it has nothing to do with the Wilma June Cold Case. But I still think she is who I heard scream.
    I notice the same truck and camper in the summer of 78. I followed it a bit. They still didn’t have the taillight and camper running light fixed. Same plate 9803ME. It pulled into a parking area on 10th Street in Sioux Falls and an older guy got out and when around and opened the door for his wife. Seemed like a retired couple, but the guy was short and had a wide head, round just like one of the younger guys that we saw April 7th 1978, I figured that the kid must have borrowed Dad or Grandpa’s truck and camper that night.

  3. john says:

    Hokie Pokie
    There are some hokie dreams that go along with my 9803ME story. A few times the girl we heard get shot has shown up in dreams. Mostly just telling me to tell someone what I heard and saw, which is the 9803ME story. She was rather fierce in the last dream, at least at the start. She acted like there was a sense of urgency that I told the story again. I told her that I’d told the story a lot over the years and nothing seems to happen. She didn’t have any problem with that but wanted me to tell the police. I told her we did that just after it happened. She wanted to debate that. She told me that Dean didn’t tell the police. I told her that he did. She pointed out that I never really saw Dean talking to a Policeman. And that if he did, they would have talked to me and took my information. She had brought up good points but I was confident that Dean had talked to his brother the policeman, because of the info about the bombing event was all valid. And took precedent over what we had to tell them. The police had no real reason to get back to us if there weren’t any reports of a missing or murdered girl. I ended up telling her to quite bothering me. Then the conversation went to having me tell the Lyon County Sheriff. I told her that was a waste of time. Someone there is convinced that there cold case wasn’t her. And they were blocking anything I was telling them. A second male voice said that I was right, and someone over there was blocking the story. But that they would be gone soon, so I should wait a bit then go tell them. She asked him how I’d know when. I told her I’d know when. The other voice confirmed to her that I’d know when and they left. I haven’t had a visit from her since. I never saw anyone in this dream just heard them.
    Another odd dream was the night after I put the 9803ME into carfax and before I found the Cold Case in Iowa, Wilma June Nissen. I was in a truck as a passenger; we were parked overlooking the ocean, checking out the surf. The driver was a friend of mine and for some reason I started to give him some grief. And told him that I was right 20 yrs. ago and that it was more like 30 yrs. ago. He just kept looking at the surf. I woke up thinking that was odd. And thought that it was Steve an old surfing and diving buddy of mine from Kauai. We use to check out surf in his truck before work and at lunch. And I thought why would I be giving him grief; there was nothing in our past to give him grief about. He had passed away recently from skin cancer. Later after I found the cold case info and called the sheriff. I was thinking about the dream at the beach. And thought that wasn’t Steve, and though maybe Todd had died, It kind of looked like Todd. It was a kind of a funny feeling that it was Todd from the Gitchie Story. I couldn’t place any grief that I had with him either. One time he was running up to the gym door and he kicked it open, I was on the other side and it knocked me down, and when I got up he kicked it again and the door hit me in the head and knocked me down for a second time, I gave him some grief about that, but that didn’t seem to match the dream. Sometime later the investigator from the Lyon County told me that Dean had passed away. It left me thinking that it was Dean in the dream with truck overlooking the beach, and the grief had to do with, me wondering if he really told the police that night. Later again at the Brandon Police Dept. they told me that Barry wasn’t a policeman in 78 and that he was on a ride along. It made me think wow the girl was right. Dean didn’t tell the police he told his brother. It also made me think that the other voice in that dream could have been Dean. There was dream later where Dean stopped by to say that he’d done all that he could do to help her in the space that he was in, and that he was heading on. He didn’t know if anything he did helped but he didn’t think he could do anymore. I told him that you never know at least we came up with the day and location of the murder for them. Maybe the guy would show up on the 40th anniversary and they will catch him. It was only a few years away. We said goodbye and I woke up.

    The last dream that I had that seemed related to 9803ME was early morning and almost like a day dream, I was talking with someone that was standing behind me but looking in the same direction I was. I was talking to him about the whole mystery and was telling him that the girl hadn’t bothered me after the visit in the dream. And that I wonder what happens to her. He said that you don’t want to run into her now. Now she carries a sword and is given the authority to use it. And when these guys die they will have to face her. And that it would be multiple times better to turn themselves in and get judged here than dying and facing that sword. That losing everything they have here and sitting in jail would be way better than what will happen when they face her and this sword. Then he said that victims of crimes will leave knives and swords on her grave. That by leaving a dagger knife or sword at her grave was a way to release this anger and letting god deal with those who caused the anger.

  4. john says:


    Back in 77, a couple of friends and I decided to go camping in Gitchie Manitou, it was a typical fun get scared camping trip. In the spring of 78. Todd, one of my friends that was with in the 77 trip, Asked if I knew how to get to Gitchie in a car. We had hiked from my house in 77. His friend Dean had a car and Todd said they wanted to drive to Gitchie and asked if I show them the way. It was Friday after some school event. By the time we go to Gitchie it was dark. We parked the car on the north side of the park. And started hiking across the field, Heading to the rock building with a fireplace. As we were walking we heard some voices that seemed like they were just over a hill or on the other side of some trees or bushes. It was a girl arguing with a guy. It sounded like they were wrestling, He was demanding something and she was saying no. they went back and forth a bit. And we here a second male voice asking the other guy to leave her alone. Not very authorative but he was consistant. The guy kept after the girl, Demanding something and seemed very angry. She kept saying no. the second guy kept pleading to the guy to leave her alone. There was a bit of silence and it seemed like the guy had dispersed the situation. Then we heard a shotgun blast. And the girl screamed. Then her voice was silenced with multiple shotgun blast.
    We ran back to the car being as quite as we could, when we got to the car I remember thinking that we were close enough for them to hear the car starting. But I think we got in the car and drove up to the road. Then stopped. We didn’t have our lights on. Waited for a minute or 2 discussing what we heard. We saw car lights leaving the area the shots came from and they headed through the park to the south entrance. They stopped for a minute near the entrance. Then proceeded to the park gate. They turned south and drove away. We decided that it was safe to go check out where they were in the park so we drove over to the south entrance. We drove in the park and 50 to 100 yards in, we were surprised that a truck was parked along side the road.(In the same area that the car stopped). But we didn’t see the car lights hit any vehicles. There were 2 guys standing at the back of the truck. Todd and I told Dean to turn around and get us out of there. Todd was in the passenger seat and I was in the back of Dean’s black firebird or trans-am. He kept driving at them, didn’t think he had room to turn his car around. We drove right past them, and drove down to the camping area with the building and turned around and head back toward them and them, they stood there and watched us drive out. We went down the road and stopped to watch them and they started up there truck and started heading our way. We assumed they were going to chase us. So we took off. We turned on some back roads and got lost for a while. Maybe a half hour later we came up behind them on a gravel road. They had their one ton dually truck with a big cab-over camper parked on the side of the road. Todd and Dean yelled that they were in the ditch. I could see the truck but not them. Then they said he’s tossing something. I asked if it was a girl. They said No. as they got closer they were both looking in the ditch and said Shirt at the same time. I could see the guy getting into the passenger side of the truck, just as we were passing. As soon we passed they gave chase. I watched them through the back window. And they gained on up fast. There was a culvert that Dean slowed down for. One of those that sends you airborne if you hit them to fast. Dean slowed down and they didn’t and there whole camper went airborne and they almost landed on us. Seems like that’s when I got the license plate number 9803ME. They nearly lost control of their truck and camper. But they gained right back up to us and were trying to ram us. We end up on pavement and Dean’s car pulled away with ease. Seems like the road just when from gravel to pavement. I don’t remember any turns before the pavement. We lost them and ourselves again. But ended up on a highway that was taking us back to Brandon. Sure enough we came up behind them again on the pavement there was a couple cars in between us. We drove past the Beaver Valley Church and we knew where we were. When we came up to the stop sign for the highway 16 to Brandon the truck when straight, one of the cars followed and went straight. We had planned to go tell the Brandon Police what we heard and saw. But decided to keep following the truck. both Dean and Todd knew the road and where it came out. At the next stop sign north of the interstate, the truck went straight again heading toward Garretson. The car behind him turned west toward Corson. We didn’t feel comfortable right behind them so we turned toward Corson too. We went up a little ways and pulled over in a parking area alongside the road like a county sand pile for sanding icy roads. Todd and Dean knew where they were. And after sitting a minute we went back to follow the truck again. I mile or so north they were on the side of the road again next to a culvert. We drove past slow and checked the plate number. But we didn’t see anyone in the truck. We went up a mile and turned around. When we came back they had switched sides of the road, and had their truck in the ditch facing south. They had their headlights pointing down into the creek coming out of the culvert. One of the guys was knee deep in the crick bent over washing his arms. The other was all wet crossing the fence going back to the truck. We headed back to Brandon to tell the police.
    Todd and Dean told me that Dean’s brother was a policeman and we went to the Pizza Parlor where the police had there lights going. Dean said that he’d talk to his brother and we should stay in the car. When Dean came back he said that they were investigating a bombing and that were where supposed to go home. But that he had told them our story.

    I never heard back from the police. Never heard of a girl that got murdered. Until 6 months later, On the way driving to school over roller coaster hills. It came over the radio. That some girl was found in a ditch that was shot 5 times with a shotgun. And that she had been sitting there 3 to 6 months. My radio cut out and lost signal in the bottom of hills. I tried other stations but didn’t hear it again. I got to school all excited but no one had heard the radio announcement that I heard. And I was adjusting the dial when I first heard it. And wasn’t sure which station it was. But nobody heard anything about it. I stopped by KELO in Sioux falls and asked if they played the announcement and the guy I talked to said that he monitored the other stations and he never heard anything about it. He might have given me the idea that it could have been a Minnesota Station. But He never heard it.
    Years passed and I had told the story several times. I think it was at a 5 yr reunion or a party after that I had told the story and Todd was surprised that I had still remembered 9803ME. He confirmed that it was the plate number. I went down to Gitchie the next day and tried to figure out where we were that night. Things looked different and I didn’t feel like I found where we were standing when we heard what sounded like the girls last breathe. I was in the fireplace building and it was run down. A lady walking her dog stopped in and we talked for a while. I told her the story and that I was just trying to put the pieces together. She said that there was a murder where we were standing. And that blood was splattered all over the walls and shells were left. And that it happened several yrs earlier. She said that the police have all the evidence. And told me where the station was. I went to the Larchwood Sheriff dept. and asked the lady there if she knew of a girl found in a ditch that was shot several times with a shotgun. She thought that there was a girl and that the guys to talk to were at the main station but it was too late to find someone that knew. And that she would check and see in the morning since that’s where she would be. I talked to her the next day. And there was a girl but they thought they knew who killed her. And that some farmers had said he found the girls shirt while walking down the farm road. They seemed to think he really knew who did kill her or was a part of the murder somehow. She said that she was shot with a shotgun but that she was shot after she was dead. Thinking that they were trying to dispose of the body by shooting it up. Or something like that. She assured me that my story had nothing to do with it and didn’t even want the copy of the story.

    Decades passed and I keep telling the story. One friend decided that we should go up and look for her, maybe see if it was a Minnesota Radio Station. A yr later I was buying a new used truck and got carfax online to check out the truck. I checked out the truck and was playing with the carfax program when I remembered 9803ME so I plugged it in. but nothing showed. The next day there was a new thing on the internet about someone solving a 30 yr old cold case with DNA. I though wow I didn’t know they had collected DNA stuff 30 yrs ago. I searched cold case Iowa. And shortly found the only cold case near Gitchie. And after looking at the info. It sure seems like she’s the girl we hear that night. I called and told them the story. And recalled them when I’d remember little details. They told me that Dean had passed away and that Todd vaguely remembers the story. And that 9803ME didn’t match a state license format. And that something was wrong with the timeline of my story and Wilma June Nissen.
    I was in Brandon helping mom a yr or so ago. And went down to Gitchie and retraced what I could. I stopped into the police station to see if they had a date to the Brandon Bombing. I figured that they already heard my story from the Lyon County Sheriff. But they hadn’t heard anything. So I told them the story. Turns out that Barry(Dean’s brother) was still a policeman. But in 78 he was just on a ”ride a long”. And wasn’t really a policeman til 87. They also looked up some tickets from 78 and found plate numbers with the same format. Even found a ticket written on a Toyota with 9805ME as the number. And that the night that the bombing happened was April 7th 1978.

    • Conley says:

      I can’t believe all that information you all had and they couldn’t investigate and find out what happened ?

      • John says:

        There was an investigator with the sheriff’s office that was working with it. He told me that the records from that era were manually written and old details weren’t all updated into the current computer system. He said he couldn’t search the plate number from that era. And asked if I had the vin number. It made me laugh. Maybe a lack of budget. From my businessman point of view. Its would be hard to take funds that could help a present situation and apply it to a 35+yr old case. I think that I have parts to the puzzle. And hoping that others people will have parts of the puzzle and come forward with there puzzle piece. With the new book out Gitchie Girl. I’m thinking it will bring back memories from back then. I think of it as drafting. Because my story and this cold case are just a few years after the 73 murders.

      • John says:

        You just read a more current version of the story from start to finish. The info I gave the sheriff was in parts out of order because I’d remember details just out of the blue. And write them down. Then send them to the police. Like yesterday I remembered some of the details from the argument. The non agressive guy said just let her have it. The aggressive guy demanded that she give it to him. In the silence before the first shot. It sounded like a car door opening. In the nano second before the first shot. The non aggressive voice yelled no. The second shot was mid scream. The rest of the shots were quick like semi automatic not like a pump shotgun. They were very loud.

        • Conley says:

          Have you talked to the Lyon County Sheriff recently ?

          • John says:

            Not in a yr or so. I assume they’ll get this. The truck had a brake light that didn’t work. And a light on the top of the camper would go out. It was on the opposite side of the brake light.real recognizable when we followed them. The truck was blue and white chevy or gmc

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