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September 9, 2018 | By Mike Bell, Nonpareilonline.com
RED OAK — A Shenandoah man convicted in 2015 of the first-degree murder of his girlfriend had his post-conviction relief hearing Friday morning and argued key elements of the investigation and prosecution were flawed.
According to Fremont County Sheriff’s Office reports, on the morning of July 18, 2009, Brian Davis reported to local dispatch that his girlfriend, Holly Durben, shot herself in the head. When deputies arrived at the Highway 59 farmhouse shared by Davis and Durben, deputies found Durben’s body in an upstairs bedroom.
She was lying on the bed with a massive gunshot wound to the left side of her head, near her cheek. Her left hand was on the pistol grip of a 12-gauge shotgun with an 18-inch 3 barrel, and her left thumb rested on the trigger. The only identifiable fingerprints on the gun belonged to Davis and Durben was right-handed.
September 2, 2018 | By Jodi Long, WHOTV.com
BOONE, Iowa — Next month will mark two years since a Jewell man went missing. Then 23 – year – old Jesse Leopold was last seen leaving his work at a meat processing plant in Jewell before he vanished. A few days following his disappearance, his pickup truck was found at Ledges State Park with the keys still in the ignition. Since his son’s disappearance, Jerry Leopold’s quest to find Jesse has consumed him.
“It’s been 689 days,” he says. It’s the number of days since his Jesse was reported missing. Jerry believes he knows what happened.
“I think that he was murdered. Plain and simple. There was no suicide in the park because a body surely would`ve turned up by now.”
August 31, 2018 | By Joe Duggan, The Daily Nonpareil
LINCOLN, Neb. — The lack of a body, a weapon or even eyewitnesses didn’t allow Shanna Golyar of Persia to escape conviction in one of Nebraska’s strangest homicide cases.
Instead, the 43-year-old Iowa woman is doing life in prison for murder and arson because she wrote dozens of text messages posing as her romantic rival, who disappeared in 2012, never to be seen again.
On Wednesday, an attorney for Golyar urged the Nebraska Supreme Court to erase a guilty verdict and order a new trial in the case.
“The state presented a decent amount of evidence. However, the problem is the vast majority of that evidence had nothing to do with murder or arson,” said Lori Hoetger, an assistant Douglas County public defender.
August 28, 2018 | By Mike Kilen, Des Moines Register
It’s been a hard summer for the families of the long-term missing in Iowa.
People are asking them how they are coping after two well-known cases that emerged in 2018 were apparently resolved in August, while they wait in limbo. (Mollie Tibbetts‘ death has been confirmed, and authorities say they’ve recovered remains consistent with those of Jake Wilson.)
Some cope by dedicating their lives to the investigation, even buying a gun and interviewing suspects. Others continue to hand out photographs, or scan the internet for stories of unidentified remains found. Some petition to have their loved one declared dead.
“Everyone finds their own coping skills,” said Carolyn Pospisil, whose 15-year-old stepdaughter Erin Pospisil was last seen on June 3, 2001, in Cedar Rapids. “But the biggest part, for me, is remembering that you have a life, and you have to go on with it — move forward. That doesn’t mean I give up.”
August 24, 2018 | By Jeff Reinitz, The WCFCourier.com
WATERLOO – A community should be a voice for its children, the Rev. Quovadis Marshall told a crowd gathered at the Riverloop Amphitheatre Thursday night.
And sometimes that voice should be silence.
And so Marshall, also known as “Pastor Q,” of Hope City Church, led about 170 people — many holding candles — in a moment of silence Thursday night as the community reeled from a week of sadness.
“For some of these parents, they will never hear the laughter of their child this side of eternity. The voices that will shape our culture, some of them have been extinguished and taken from us. For them we stand in silence,” Marshall said.
“Our silence says ‘you don’t stand alone,’” he said.
Last week, human remains were found in Wolf Creek near where 16-year-old Jake Wilson had vanished in April. In a cornfield outside Deep River, the body of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts of Brooklyn was found Tuesday, about month after she disappeared, and one man has been charged in her slaying.
August 24, 2018 | by Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News/The Cedar Rapids Gazette
Michael Syperda was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and is to pay $150,000 restitution for the murder of Elizabeth Syperda, who disappeared from Mt. Pleasant just over 18 years ago.
Syperda, 58, of Rifle, Colo., and a former resident of Henry County, was convicted of murder in his 22-year-old wife Elizabeth Syperda’s death on June 25 following a five-day trial in May. Judge Mark Kruse found the defendant guilty, despite that her body has never been found. Michael Syperda will be held at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.
Given the opportunity to comment before sentencing on Thursday at the Henry County Courthouse, Syperda responded, “No, your honor,” to Judge Kruse after conferring with his lawyer Kym Auge.
August 6, 2018 | by Luke Nozicka, The Des Moines Register
Jake Tibbetts, brother of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, is hopeful for her safe return. Kelsey Kremer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Goodman almost had a panic attack when she looked out to her backyard the other day and did not see her young son playing.
With two recent high-profile cases of people missing in Iowa, the mother of four children, ages nine months to 10 years, described herself as nearly hyperventilating when she couldn’t spot the boy because he was rolling in the grass.
“It’s a very unsettling feeling around here,” said Goodman, a former KWWL anchor who works as the executive director of Family & Children’s Council of Black Hawk County. “These children are vanishing.”
August 3, 2018 | WCFCourier.com
WATERLOO — Pictures in a photo album were all Julie Burge had to teach her children about their grandmother as they grew up.
“I remember everything about her. I talk to my kids about her. My oldest daughter looks just like her,” said Burge, of Des Moines.
Burge was only 17 years old, and her own daughter was almost a toddler, when Burge’s mother, 34-year-old Diane Courbat of Waterloo, was shot in the head and died a few days later.
If she was still alive today, Diane Courbat would have a total of nine grandchildren — all grown — and nine great-grandchildren.
August 3, 2018 | KOEL.com
A candlelight vigil that focused on unsolved cases involving young people in Iowa was attended by more than 200 people Wednesday night (Aug. 1, 2018).
Parents, friends and community members gathered at the RiverLoop Amphitheatre in downtown Waterloo for the “Light Up The Night For Our Kids” event. One of the speakers was 27-year-old Morgan Collum of Brooklyn, the cousin of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
“The last two weeks have been really difficult,” Collum said. “You wake up and you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re like ‘how am I going to get through this day, what am I going to do to get through this day, how am I going to help to bring Mollie home?’ If it wasn’t for God, I don’t know how I’d be standing here in front of you.”
August 1, 2018 | KCCI.com
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Mollie Tibbetts’ case is bringing back difficult memories for another Iowa family.
It’s been 17-years since Erin Pospisil vanished in Cedar Rapids, and she’s never been found.
Erin was 15-years-old when she disappeared, but her mom, Carolyn Pospisil, says the difference was her daughter was labeled a “runaway”, so it didn’t get the same level of a dedicated search.
Pospisil says she’s hopeful Mollie’s family gets answers soon, but watching national coverage of her case is like reliving her own pain all over again.
“There is no normal, and no way to say this is the way that things are supposed to go, because this isn’t supposed to ever happen. And there’s no right or wrong way for the process to happen,” said Carolyn Pospisill.
August 1, 2018 | By Luke Nozicka, The Des Moines Register
WATERLOO, Ia. — Elizabeth Collins would have turned 15 this week.
To celebrate, her family and friends sang a birthday song, ate cake and released lanterns and balloons Tuesday at Angels Park, a community healing project where the abandoned bikes of her and her cousin were found in July 2012. Months after finding the bikes, the bodies of the kidnapped girls were discovered in a wildlife area.
Now, more than six years later, Elizabeth’s mother, Heather, feels sick when she sees reports of missing children and young adults. She understands the anxiety their family and friends are experiencing.
“It’s like a club, an unwanted club,” she said in a shirt displaying the faces of Elizabeth and her cousin, Lyric Cook-Morrissey. “It’s still a nightmare every day that I wake up.”
July 31, 2018 | By Amanda Gilbert, KWWL.com
EVANSDALE (KWWL) – Today would have been Elizabeth Collin’s 15th birthday.
The Family & Children’s Council of Black Hawk County posted to Facebook, saying, “But it’s another heavenly birthday for Elizabeth. Let’s make a promise today, on her birthday, that we will not stop fighting for justice for her and Lyric. Their names may have faded from the headlines…but we will NEVER forget and never stop.”
Angels Park in Evansdale also posted to Facebook, saying, “Happy Heavenly 15th Birthday Elizabeth !!!!”
July 31, 2018 | By Mike Kilen, The Des Moines Register
Iesha Husted last saw her brother in Centerville, Iowa, in January. Sebastian Husted, 19, has been missing ever since.
“Nobody has written about it,” Husted said.
That’s in sharp contrast to the case of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who was listed as missing from Brooklyn, Iowa, on July 18.
Her unsolved case has received considerable state and national media attention from the Register, television stations and national media outlets, including ABC, CNN and Fox News.
Iesha Husted believes she knows the reason why.
“I think it is because our family is poor. We don’t have the funds to get his face out there,” said Husted, 25. “We don’t have a tight-knit community to rally around. A lot of people think he was an 18-year-old boy running away from his problems.”
July 30, 2018 | by Michael DaSilva, WHOTV.com
WARREN COUNTY, Iowa — “I was just sitting there, watching TV, and I smelled smoke,” said Janet Michael of rural Norwalk. “I thought, oh my God, one of the trailers (is) on fire or something.”
It was Saturday night, July 30th, 2011. The home of Bill and Kay Wood was ablaze. Michael, who lives nearby, remembers that night well.
“I came outside and walked down the stairs and you could see the flames, and they were as high as the trees,” she said.
Fire destroyed the house, located just south of Des Moines’ city limits. The next day, Bill’s body was discovered among the charred remains of the home. Autopsy reports showed Bill died of multiple gunshot wounds. Kay was never found.
July 29, 2018 | by Shelly Ragen, The Oskaloosa Herald
OSKALOOSA — A 1986 death ruled a suicide is back in the spotlight again after questions are raised by the victim’s daughter who is actively investigating her father’s death.
Monica Speaks, 39, of Marshalltown, shared her father’s case file documents including scene photos.
Speaks is also studying forensic science and this death so close to home has inspired her investigative instincts.
Her father, Rick Lynne Davis, was found deceased in his car on July 20, 1986, on A Avenue East, Oskaloosa, with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
July 29, 2018 | by Alex Kirkpatrick, KCCI.com
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) — About two dozen family members and friends gathered Sunday evening to remember a bicyclist shot and killed two years ago this week.
Dennis Strable, 59, was fatally shot the morning of July 24, 2016, at the intersection of 45th Street and Kingman Boulevard. No one was ever arrested in the case.
Strable’s niece, Margaret Coady, told KCCI that she hopes renewed interest in the case will prompt someone to come forward with information that will lead to an arrest in the homicide.
July 25, 2018 | by Mike Kilen, The Des Moines Register
Investigators are sifting through electronic data from social media accounts and a physical activity tracker to help them in the search for Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old from Brooklyn, Iowa, who has been missing for one week.
The avid runner always wore a Fitbit, which tracks the distance traveled and other information. She was seen running the night she disappeared, while dog-sitting at the home of her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother in Brooklyn.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has several agents dedicated to the case because additional expertise is needed in forensics to explore the areas around Brooklyn and in high technology to gather information on cell phones, social media and Fitbit, said Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, a state agency investigating the case.
July 22, 2018 | By Shelly Ragen, The Oskaloosa Herald
OSKALOOSA — A new tip shared recently online from a relative has shed a little more light on the Denease Monson Latham cold case.
Latham’s sister, Donna Booth, has publicly shared that Latham was in a women’s shelter two weeks before her body was found in a creek by Rose Hill.
This cold case is 32 years old and each detail that comes forth may bring some closure to the family.
On Sunday, Oct. 5, 1986, Denease (Monson) Latham suffered blunt force trauma injuries to her head before coming to rest face-down in two feet of water beneath a bridge on Ventura Avenue half a mile north of Rose Hill.
The official ruling was accidental drowning but many including Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem and former Sheriff Paul DeGeest have shared concerns over the case.
July 22, 2018 | by Matthew Leimkuehler, The Des Moines Register
BROOKLYN, Ia. — The same poster fills nearly every downtown storefront on Jackson Street.
It’s hanging in the deli, a crafts store and the local print shop. One word, typed across the center of the flyer, shouting at each passerby in a blazing red font:
Community members in Brooklyn, Iowa, an eastern Iowa town of roughly 1,500, continue to search for Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who went missing last week.
“It’s frustrating; it’s powerless,” said Mollie Tibbetts’ aunt, Kim Calderwood, of Brooklyn. “We’re racking our brains, thinking what can we think of to tell the investigators. It’s the worst thing … to want to fix something you can’t fix.”
July 18, 2018 | By Todd Magel, KCCI.com
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) — Officials have ruled the death of a 2-year-old southern Iowa toddler who died in a March 2001 house fire as a homicide, sparking renewed interest in a cold case that has troubled a Union County family for nearly two decades.
Officials initially called Ricky Neal “Little Ricky” Morehouse’s death accidental after he died on a cold March 3, 2001, in the bathroom of his mother’s rental home in Kent, but the death certificate has now been changed to homicide.
July 16, 2018 | By Shelly Ragen, The Oskaloosa Herald
OSKALOOSA — A chilling unsolved homicide that happened in the early 1970s on 506 High Avenue East is all but closed according to law enforcement officials. And like so many cold cases, it’s the internet that keeps it alive.
Iowa Cold Cases, a nonprofit and volunteer service is staffed soley by Jody Ewing (iowacoldcases.org) has dedicated her life to the thousands of cold cases in the state of Iowa. That’s a daunting task for one person working for the lost and forgotten.
Mahaska County has several cold cases. None of which are opened or being investigated by local officials or the DCI. Mahaska County Sheriff Russ Van Renterghem is the only known officer to have looked into one particular case, but the files have gone missing causing a hiccup in an already difficult endeavor.
Edward Arthur Schmidt was an 85-year-old bachelor and local attorney found beaten to death in his basement law office on Thursday, Jan. 13, 1972.
July 15, 2018 | by WHOTV.com
EVANSDALE, Iowa — An annual bike ride in eastern Iowa took on a bit of a different purpose this year.
The sixth annual Memorial Ride and Drive honored Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins on Saturday. The cousins were taken while riding their bikes and later killed in Evansdale in 2012.
The yearly ride is for family members to remind others they are still looking for answers. This year, though, the ride also had another purpose. Riders wore blue ribbons in honor of Jake Wilson, the La Porte City teen who has been missing for three months.
“Riding for justice for the girls, riding for Jake, and riding for other cases that have not been solved. These parents are still waiting for the killer or for their child to be found, and it’s heartbreaking,” said Heather Collins, Elizabeth’s mother.
All the money raised from this event will go to Angel’s Park and Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers.
July 12, 2018 | By Jeff Reinitz, WCFCourier.com
EVANSDALE — Missing persons cases and unsolved homicides — some going back more three decades — will be highlighted Saturday as the community turns out to remember two young cousins whose killer has evaded justice for six years.
The Memorial Ride and Drive for Lyric and Elizabeth marks the disappearance of cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins. The two young cousins disappeared July 13, 2012, while riding their bikes in Evansdale, and their bodies were found months later in another county. No arrests have been made.
The annual ride draws 300 to 400 people and raises money for the local Crime Stoppers program — which pays money for tips that solve crimes — and Angels Park, a memorial for the cousins and others taken too soon.
This year, the event will include a tribute to honor the victims of up to a dozen other unsolved crimes, said Drew Collins, Elizabeth’s father.
“For a lot of these families, it has been 20 years or even 30 years, so they kind of feel forgotten, they feel like their cases are forgotten. We just want to let those people know, from Crime Stoppers, that they are not forgotten,” Drew Collins said. “I just feel that getting the word out on some of these other cases could help them” lead to an arrest.
June 25, 2018 | by Andy Hoffman, The Hawk Eye
MOUNT PLEASANT — Elizabeth Syperda disappeared in 2000. Her body was never found, but a district judge was nonetheless convinced her estranged husband killed her.
District Judge Mark Kruse announced this morning before a crowded and emotion-filled courtroom in Henry County District Court that Michael Syperda was guilty of first-degree murder in the 22-year-old woman’s death.
Syperda was convicted by Kruse after the 58-year Colorado man decided to waive his right to a trial jury earlier this year and, instead, hand his fate over to Kruse to make the decision.
Kruse announced his guilty verdict during a five-minute hearing in which he sternly warned the audience that any emotional display on either side would be met with immediate removal from the courtroom. The courtroom remained silent as the verdict was announced, but one of Syperda’s adult children began sobbing hysterically as she tried to leave the courtroom after Kruse had left the bench.
Syperda showed no emotion when Kruse announced his verdict. He looked toward the ceiling, then turned and looked at several family members, including his adult children, seated in the back of the courtroom.
June 21, 2018 | by Luke Nozicka, The Des Moines Register
Knoxville, Ia. — A Marion County judge heard arguments Thursday after the attorneys of Jason Carter, who was charged with killing his mother days after a civil jury found him responsible for her death, asked for the murder trial to be moved elsewhere.
Carter, 45, was charged with fatally shooting his mother, 68-year-old Shirley Carter, two days after a civil jury in December found him responsible for her June 2015 death. The jury ordered Carter to pay $10 million to Shirley’s estate.
His defense team asked the judge, Brad McCall, to move the criminal trial out of the county, arguing that publicity of the civil trial was so widespread, it would be difficult to find an impartial jury. When asked if media coverage had been statewide, Jason’s attorney, Christine Branstad, said consumers of Marion County and Des Moines news organizations would have prior knowledge of the case.
June 21, 2018 | by Pat Finan, The Journal Express
KNOXVILLE – Jason Carter’s attorney argued Thursday that his murder trial should be moved from Marion County because of extensive publicity. District Judge Brad McCall took no action on the motion, but told attorneys for both sides to be ready when the trial begins next March.
Christine Branstad said media coverage of the civil trial that found Carter liable of the 2015 killing of his mother, Shirley, would make it impossible to find enough impartial jurors in the county. The trial should be moved, she said.
“The publicity has been statewide, has it not?” McCall asked her.
June 15, 2018 | by Ryan J. Foley, AP/Des Moines Register
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The son and boss of an Iowa grandmother charged in a 25-year-old homicide said Thursday they were stunned by her arrest and confident she’s not the killer.
Authorities arrested 55-year-old Annette Cahill, of Tipton, two weeks ago, charging her with first-degree murder in the 1992 beating death of her friend Corey Wieneke. They said the charge came after an unidentified new witness gave police information implicating Cahill, who has been jailed on a $1 million bond and faces life in prison if convicted.
Cahill has worked since 2009 as a proofreader and customer service assistant at the Police Law Institute, which provides online training courses that are taken monthly by thousands of police officers. Her boss, David Oliver, of North Liberty, said her arrest came as a “complete and utter shock.” He said the two had talked years ago about the impact that Wieneke’s death had on her, and how she had been long ago cleared as a suspect.
June 4, 2018 | by Luke Nozicka, The Des Moines Register
A Cedar County woman has been charged in the 1992 bludgeoning death of a 22-year-old man in rural West Liberty, authorities said.
Annette Dee Cahill, 55, of Tipton, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Corey Wieneke, whose fiancée found him dead on his bedroom floor Oct. 13, 1992, in his Muscatine County home, police said.
A witness went to authorities last year and told them that a few weeks after the killing, Cahill made comments that she was responsible for the homicide, according to a criminal complaint. She told another person Wieneke had been killed with a baseball bat before that was public knowledge or the weapon had been recovered, officials said.
June 3, 2018 | By Juliet Muir, NBCNews.com
Alicia Hummel was known in her hometown of Sioux City, Iowa as “loving,” “wonderful,” and incredibly loyal to her friends and family, according to longtime friend Jody Hanson.
Jody and Alicia met in kindergarten and never lost touch. “She was one of the most amazing people,” Jody told Dateline.
“She was the definition of a best friend,” Bethany Svacina, another of Alicia’s longtime friends told Dateline. She said people like Alicia are difficult to find.
“People get so wrapped up in their own lives they forget to be there for others. Alicia didn’t,” Bethany recalled. “She always made time for those she loved, even when she may have needed their support more than they needed hers.”
May 30, 2018 | by Stephen Gruber-Miller, The Des Moines Register
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Michael Motsinger answers questions about the arrest of Jason Carter in the 2015 shooting death of his mother, in a news conference in Knoxvlle on Monday Dec. 18, 2017. Angela Ufheil/The Register
Lawyers for an Iowa man found civilly liable for his mother’s shooting death say law enforcement withheld exculpatory evidence that indicates someone else was responsible for the killing.
A civil jury in December found Jason Carter responsible for the death of his mother, 68-year-old Shirley Carter, who was shot to death on June 19, 2015, at her home in rural Marion County. The jury ordered Carter to pay $10 million to Shirley Carter’s estate.
Two days after the civil verdict, Jason Carter was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Shirley Carter’s death. A trial date has not been set.
May 29, 2018 | By Anelia K. Dimitrova, Waverly Newspapers
Throughout his law enforcement career, Rich Greenlee, now a retired Chief Deputy with the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office, tried to help crack open the still unsolved murders of two Waverly women — 18-year-old Julia Benning and 19-year-old Lisa Peak.
At the time of her death, Benning was a waitress at the Sir Lounge in Waverly. Peak was a Wartburg journalism student, who along with Des Moines Register reporter Chuck Offenburger, was planning to write a book about a sex and extortion scheme that had put John Joseph Carmody Jr., a car salesman, in prison for 40 years.
Working both cases, Greenlee felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders and to remind himself daily of the fact that the murders had not been solved, he posted the girls’ pictures on his file cabinet.
May 23, 2018 | by Steve Saunders, Fox42KPTM.com
UNION CO., Iowa (FOX42KPTM) — Rick and Robin Morehouse say even after all these years, the feelings are still raw.
“It just gets easier to deal with, but it never goes away,” said Rick Morehouse.
They are the father and step mother of two adorable and once inseparable twins.
“They were such good boys,” said Robin Morehouse.
Back in March 2001, Rick says he got home from work when the truly unthinkable happened.
“I get a knock on the door from the Harlan police department to tell me what was going on,” said Morehouse.
The officer was there to tell him that one of his twins died in a fire in what used to be known as the town of Kent, Iowa.
May 18, 2018 | By Sarah Beth Coleman, KWQC.com
BELLEVUE, Iowa (KWQC) — On December 25, 2016, the Bellevue Police Department (BPD) was called to the residence of James Michael Remakel located at 606 South Riverview Drive. Upon arrival, law enforcement found a forced open door and the body of deceased Remakel. Bellevue Police requested assistance from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) with the suspicious death investigation.
An autopsy of Remakel was conducted at the Office of the Iowa State Medical Examiner and his death was ruled a homicide. Results of the autopsy showed Remakel sustained multiple sharp force wounds throughout his upper torso, neck, face, and head area, which lead to his death.
Drew Alan Mangler, 23, of Dubuque, Iowa, became a suspect and an arrest warrant was issued for him on May 17, 2018. On Friday, May 18, 2018, authorities took Mangler into custody without incident. He has been charged with Murder in the First Degree in violation of Iowa Criminal Code Sections 707.1 and 707.2(1).
May 13, 2018 | by Carroll McKibbin, guest columnist, The Gazette
My dear mother saw the trials of the human existence through rose-colored glasses and a matching vocabulary. In her world, such woes as death, crime, juvenile delinquency, and mental illness were soothed or eliminated by her special, empathetic language.
Mom did not allow people to die. In her words, they just went to “the great beyond.” And those committed to the state penitentiary, the boys’ correctional facility, or a regional mental institution she described as “visiting” in Fort Madison, Eldora, and Clarinda respectively, as if they were on vacation.
Pregnant single girls, a condition my sensitive mother would never describe with such a repugnant term, were said to be “indisposed” and “visiting” in Sioux City, the site of a home for unwed mothers.
May 11, 2018 | By Lee Rood, The Des Moines Register
GUTHRIE COUNTY, Iowa — Three of this county’s seven deputies and a K-9 dog spent nine hours in March combing a secluded area near Lake Panorama for an alleged rapist.
Michael Mackensie Taylor, 35, a former taekwondo instructor from West Des Moines with a history of harassing women, was accused of beating his victim unconscious, then sexually assaulting her until she ran to a deputy’s car, a criminal complaint said.
Even more disturbing was the alleged arson and murder last May that took the life of two Guthrie Center girls. Melanie Paige Exline, 12, had lived in town a couple of months; her 16-year-old cousin, Shakiah Cockerham, had for most of her life.
“It was devastating to all of us. I don’t know how it couldn’t be with two school-aged girls like that,” said next-door neighbor Chuck Cleveland, 49.
Violent crime is slowly becoming more common in small towns and cities across Iowa, outpacing a rise in the state’s urban centers, a Reader’s Watchdog probe has found.
Statistics vary based on the data and timelines examined. But the rising trend is clear, state analysts say.
Read More about why Iowa ranks 49th out of 50 states for state mental hospital beds, and why sheriff’s deputies complain that the state’s real-time database of available inpatient psychiatric beds is “hopelessly inaccurate.”
May 10, 2018 | by Kim Norvell, The Des Moines Register
The case of a rural Dallas County woman who was killed and robbed of $50 remains unsolved 53 years after her death.
So do at least four other cases, committed between 1931 and 2011, in the metro’s western-most county. Dallas County Attorney Wayne Reisetter is hoping to change that under a new cold case initiative recently approved by the board of supervisors.
His department is committing $30,000 of investigative resources to determine if any of the county’s cold cases have enough traction to be solved. There are five unsolved cases in Dallas County, according to Iowa Cold Cases, a nonprofit organization that tracks cold cases in the state.
May 9, 2018 | Associated Press and The Des Moines Register
MOUNT PLEASANT, Ia. — A June 25 hearing is scheduled for a judge to rule on whether a man killed his wife, who disappeared nearly 18 years ago in southeast Iowa.
Closing arguments were held Monday in Henry County District Court in the nonjury trial of 58-year-old Michael Syperda. He was charged in December with first-degree murder in the disappearance of Elizabeth Syperda.
She was 22 when she disappeared in July 2000 in Mount Pleasant. Her body was never found. Court records say the couple had been estranged before her disappearance, because she was leaving him for a woman.
Prosecutors say Michael Syperda threatened and stalked his wife. His attorney says there is no evidence linking him to her disappearance or death, if indeed she’s been killed.
May 7, 2018 | The Hawk Eye
MOUNT PLEASANT — Depending on whom you believe, Michael Syperda is either a jealous, abusive husband who killed his wife after she left him for another woman, or an innocent man who has been framed by overzealous prosecutors and an incompetent police department seeking to solve a decades-old homicide.
The 58-year-old Syperda remained stoic as attorneys presented closing arguments Monday in Henry County District Court, where he is on trial on first-degree murder charges in the July 2000 killing of his 22-year-old estranged wife, Elizabeth Syperda.
She vanished from her Mount Pleasant apartment about a month after she moved from the home she shared with Syperda to live with Sara Beckman, with whom she was involved in an intimate relationship.
March 4, 2018 | by Diane Langton, The Cedar Rapids Gazette
Downtown Cedar Rapids in 1959 was a busy place, with shoppers and business people on the street, especially during the lunch hour. But no one — apparently — saw who murdered a quiet, polite loan officer going about his daily business.
The De Var restaurant at 312 Second Ave. SE was serving lunch Oct. 15 when Thomas McMurrin and Donald McSpadden burst through the door and went straight to Patrolman Donald Hollister.
The two men said they’d gone to the office of Family Finance Corp., upstairs from the restaurant, to apply for a loan. When they walked into the office just after 11:30 a.m., they discovered the manager, Frederick Leonard Coste, lying in a pool of blood in an interview booth.
Feb. 22, 2018 | by Lauren Moss, KWWL.com
DUBUQUE (KWWL) – It was a brutal murder that affected the entire city of Dubuque back in the 70’s.
21-year-old Jackie Shireman, a beautiful waitress and newlywed, was found stabbed to death inside a diner with a pair of scissors. Decades later, the case remains unsolved, but her sister refuses to give up hope that one day her sister’s killer will be found.
Jackie’s sister Debra Husemann says, “It’s probably someone who did know her or had something against her, I don’t know, but to be stabbed 27 times with a pair of scissors… you had to have some anger there.”
It was 1975, what’s now a playground was the popular Marino’s Meal on a Bun diner. Husemann was just 17 years old, but she still remembers the call.
Feb. 19, 2018 | by Shelly Ragen, The Oskaloosa Herald
OSKALOOSA –– It’s been over thirty years since a lady out for her morning stroll came across a body lying in a creek bed near her farm in Rose Hill, Iowa.
It had been a moonless night on Oct. 5, 1986 and down a gravel road a bicycle lay near the middle of the bridge. Underneath the bridge, in a two feet-deep swell in the creek lay Denease Latham from What Cheer.
For all intents and purposes, it looked as if the 24-year-old mother of three had a bicycle accident and wrecked an over a bridge into a creek bed. In the last few years, the death of Denease Latham has appeared on the Iowa Cold Case’s website even though the autopsy report ruled the death as an accidental drowning — leading some to wonder this might not have been accident.
Retired Sheriff Paul DeGeest received a call that Sunday morning in 1986.
Feb. 1, 2018 | by Trish Mehaffey, The Cedar Rapids Gazette
TOLEDO — The toddler left behind when Cora Okonski was murdered in 2000 still looks for her after all these years and can’t give up “what might have been,” his adoptive mother said Thursday during a sentencing hearing for convicted killer Tait Purk.
Deb Calvert, who adopted Austin in 2000 when he was 19 months old, said in her victim’s impact statement that she and her husband have tried to fill that void, but Austin — now 19 — continues to “mourn for a mother he barely knew.” She told the judge that Austin has profound mental health issues including “extreme” anxiety and low self-esteem, and the Tourette syndrome neurological disorder…
… Thursday, 6th Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill sentenced Purk, 52, to 50 years in prison for killing his 23-year-old fiancee on April 16, 2000.
Jan. 23, 2018 | KCRG.com
Tait Purk’s attorneys filed a motion yesterday asking for a third trial.
In May 2017, a jury found Purk guilty of first degree murder for the death of Cora Okonski. But a judge overturned that verdict saying there wasn’t enough evidence.
Then in December, another judge found Purk guilty of second degree murder.
Jan. 8, 2018 | by Beverly Van Baskirk, LeMarsDailySentinel.com
SIOUX CITY — A rural Plymouth County man was one of five law enforcement officials recently recognized for their work on solving a 2011 Sioux City murder case.
The members of the team that investigated the May 2011 killing of Tony Canfield were recognized for their efforts with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) national group achievement award. The award ceremony took place at the Sioux City Police Department on Nov. 30.
The FLEOA was founded in 1977, and is a non-profit organization that represents federal law enforcement agents across the nation, and currently represents more than 25,000 federal law enforcement agents from over 65 different agencies.
The recipients of the FLEOA award were FBI Special Agent Jonathan Moeller, of rural Plymouth County, Northern District of Iowa Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild, Sioux City Police Department Detectives Heather Albrecht and Mike Simons and Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office Captain Mike Walsh.
Jan. 5, 2018 | WCF Courier
WATERLOO – Plastic stars dangle on fishing line from a tree on Ray “Sherman” Hill’s lawn, making up a family tree of his loved ones who have passed on.
“There’s my dad, my mom, sister. They all died of natural causes,” he said, pointing to the stars closer to the winter-bare trunk. He then reaches for a star bearing the name “Mikaela” in cursive script on the tree’s outer branches.
“My daughter’s is different. She was murdered,” he said.
Six months after the shooting death of his daughter, Hill is still looking for answers.
Police said someone fired into the bedroom window of Mikaela Bond Hill’s rented Hope Avenue home in the early morning hours of June 3. Bond’s boyfriend and her three children were in the house, but she was the only one hit by the gunfire.
Jan. 1, 2018 | by Luke Nozicka, The Des Moines Register
An intense pace of killings in the city of Des Moines let up late in the year: No homicides were recorded in November and December.
But the 25 homicides in 2017, including three on the first three days of the year, were still enough to be the most in the city since 1978, when 27 people were killed, according to police data.
Law enforcement officials attributed a majority of the killings to soured personal relationships, gang-related violence and a trend of young adults solving trivial conflicts and social media disputes with guns, phenomena Police Chief Dana Wingert said were not unique to Iowa’s largest city.
No one has been arrested or identified as responsible in seven of the 25 killings, giving the police department a 2017 homicide clearance rate of 72 percent. In an eighth case, prosecution was declined for two murder suspects, though the police department considers it cleared.
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