Warren County

Warren County in Iowa

Cold Cases in Warren County, IA

*Please Note: The cases listed below are within Warren 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.

 

John Hossack family

John Hossack family

Homicide
John Hossack
59 YOA
Squaw Township
Warren County, IA
December 2, 1900

On a moonlit Saturday night, December 1, 1900, prosperous Warren County, Iowa farmer John Hossack was murdered in his bed by two blows of an ax to his head. Four days later, Hossack’s wife of 32 years, Margaret (Murchison) Hossack, was arrested at her husband’s funeral and charged with killing him in the couple’s home sometime around midnight while he slept. After two trials, Hossack’s murder remains unsolved.

 

Homicide
Janet LaFratte
35 YOA
Norwalk, IA (Warren County)
Case # 73-00272
June 20, 1973

On June 20, 1973, Janet LaFratte was reported missing by her husband at 5:30 p.m. At 8 p.m. her body was found floating in a farm pond behind the LaFratte home.

 

Undetermined – “Very Suspicious”
Tamara Lynn Lass
10 days old
Norwalk, IA
Warren County
March 1, 1988

On Tuesday, March 1, 1988, Teri Lass claimed she found her 10-day-old daughter, Tamara Lynn, unresponsive, and the child was later pronounced dead. Authorities were first led to believe the baby died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but State Medical Examiner Thomas Bennett said, “In any of these cases of a sudden death for a very small child, anyone less than three weeks of age, you have to be very suspicious because usually SIDS doesn’t occur in that first two- or three-week period of life.” Bennett listed the cause of death as “undetermined” — which left the case open for future prosecution if warranted — and perhaps rightly so; less than four years after 10-day-old Tamara’s untimely death, the Lass’s 6-day-old son, Shane Lass, was murdered. (See below.)

 

Shane Lass

Homicide
Shane Alex Lass
6 days old
Norwalk, IA
Warren County
February 19, 1992

On Wednesday, February 19, 1992, Teri Lass claimed her 6-day-old son, Shane, was kidnapped from her unlocked car outside the Norwalk post office while she was inside buying stamps. The baby’s body – clothed only in a diaper despite the freezing temperatures – was discovered the following afternoon in a garbage bag placed inside a cardboard box in a rural ditch just south of Norwalk. Shane had died from injuries to the head. Mark and Teri Lass had an infant daughter, Tamara Lass, who died unexpected at 10 days old. Her case also remains unsolved.

 

Phil Terrell

Homicide:
Phil Terrell
42 YOA
From Des Moines, IA
Body found in Warren County
December 24, 1993

Just before Christmas 1993, Phil Terrell’s family reported him as missing from Des Moines, IA. On March 2, 1994, at approximately 2 p.m., a horseback rider found Terrell’s snow-covered, decomposed body in a creek bed just inside Warren County. Warren County officials said Terrell’s death is a homicide. Assistant Medical Examiner Francis Garrity said autopsy results showed that Terrell died after being hit on the head with a blunt instrument.

 

Homicide:
Karla Jean Hartkemeyer
35 YOA
Case # 9603059
Rural Route, Iowa (Warren County)
October 27, 1995

Karla Jean Hartkemeyer’s skeletal remains, along with her purse containing her social security card, were found by two individuals in Warren County near the North River on Tuesday, March 12, 1996. Karla had been missing since late October and was reported missing by her brother on November 15, 1995.

 

Arlys Ponce

Homicide
Arlys Darlene Ponce
42 YOA
Norwalk, IA (Warren County)
Case # 9710958
October 8, 1997

On October 8, 1997 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Arlys Ponce was seen lying on the floor when her son peered through a window. The son contacted a neighbor, telling her he couldn’t get into the house but that he could see his mother lying on the floor. The neighbor contacted the police, who entered the residence and discovered Arlys Ponce had been beaten and stabbed.

 

Bill and Kay Wood

Bill and Kay Wood

Homicide / Missing Person
James William “Bill” Wood, 79
Kaidena “Kay” Wood, 72

2698 Highway R-63
Norwalk, IA
Warren County
July 30, 2011

Bill and Kay Wood’s rural Norwalk home burned on Saturday night, July 30, 2011, after the couple attended an auction in Stuart, Iowa. A body discovered in the home’s charred remains was identified as 79-year-old Bill Wood. His wife, Kay, has not yet been found.

 

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