Cold Cases in the News — 2020 Archives

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Man charged with multiple counts of child abuse

Dec. 24, 2020 | by Sam Pimper, The Daily Nonpareil

A Council Bluffs man faces numerous child abuse charges after police say he physically attacked three children under his care.

Leslie Kennedy Sr. (Courtesy photo Pottawattamie County Jail)

Leslie Kennedy Sr., 73, faces two counts of child endangerment causing serious injury, one count of domestic abuse by strangulation and one count of false imprisonment. Court records show the alleged events happened between January 2017 and this month.

He was arrested Dec. 16 and is being held in Pottawattamie County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

On Dec. 8, an officer with the Council Bluffs Police Department received information that children were being abused at a home in the 1800 block of Tostevin Street, according to the arrest affidavit. Court records show one minor alleged abuse reported to school officials, to his or her father and a church pastor that Kennedy recently choked another family member.

As a result of an investigation, three children were placed in protective custody on Dec. 10. One child interviewed at Children’s Square disclosed that after making a gingerbread house on a recent day, Kennedy allegedly became upset with two children for making a mess and proceeded to grab one by the neck and strangle the child against a table.

Full Story at The Daily Nonpareil

Read more about the brutal murder of Leslie Kennedy’s stepdaughter, Kim Ratliff.

Step-brother of Kimberly Ratliff pleads not guilty to murder; Feb. 2 jury trial scheduled

Dec. 22, 2020 | by Sam Pimper, The Daily Nonpareil

jury trial has been scheduled for a Bluffs native accused of murdering his step-sister, Kimberly Ratliff, in January 1999.

On Dec. 18, court records show that Jill Eimermann, an attorney representing the Defense Unit of the State of Iowa’s Public Defenders Office, filed a written not guilty plea on behalf of Matt W. Kennedy in Pottawattamie County Court.

As a result, his case has jumped to Pottawattamie County District Court where he is scheduled for a Feb. 2 jury trial, court records show. He is currently being held in Pottawattamie County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Full Story at The Daily Nonpareil

Officials detail DNA breakthroughs that led to arrest in horrific 1999 murder of Kimberly Ratliff

Dec. 22, 2020 | by Chelsea Robinson,

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA — New documents from the Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office are shedding light on the investigation behind a cold case arrest.

On the morning of Jan. 12, 1999, Kimberly Ratliff’s deceased body was discovered inside her vehicle, which had been abandoned in the 1400 block of West Broadway in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ratliff was 22 at the time of her death. Police say Ratliff was found mutilated and her throat slit so severely that she was nearly decapitated. Authorities determined she was likely killed elsewhere because there was little blood in her car. Investigators determined the suspects may have been attempting to sexually assault Kimberly at the time of her death. Investigators determined there was a four- to six-hour window in which the killing could have occurred.

In October 2020, Kimberly’s stepbrother, Matt W. Kennedy, was arrested and accused of first-degree murder. Kennedy, now 52, had been a resident of Fairfield, Montana, but he was living in Council Bluffs at the time of the killing.

Full Story at

New details and documents show Kimberly Ratliff was sexually assaulted before she was murdered

Dec. 22, 2020 |

Council Bluffs, Ia 12-22-2020 — Metro News Now has uncovered some disturbing details from newly released documents on the murder of Kimberly Ratliff and her suspected killer, Matt W. Kennedy.

Documents obtained by Metro News Now show Kimberly Ratliff was sexually assaulted before her death. New DNA evidence shows there’s a match between Matt W. Kennedy’s DNA and what was retrieved from items at the scene of the murder.

According to the affidavit:
On or about the above stated date and time, the Defendant did
“having malice aforethought, kill Kimberly Marie Ratliff, while participating in a forcible felony, to wit: Sexual Assault”

The affidavit goes on to say “With the development and advances of DNA technology, items collected at the original crime scene were submitted to the Iowa State DCI Laboratory for evaluation in 2014. In 2017 the DCI Laboratory informed us an unknown male DNA profile was discovered on one of the items. This item was of a personal nature to Kimberly that only she and the suspect(s) would have had contact with. With this new information it was appropriate to attempt to identify the DNA by comparing it to known profiles of individuals who may have had access to the victim during the 4 to 6 hour window we believe this incident occurred. Included in this list of individuals is the victim’s step-brother Matt William Kennedy (DOB: 11/05/1967) who was the last known person to have seen Kimberly Ratliff alive.”

On 8/24/2020 known DNA samples of six male subjects were submitted to the DCI Laboratory for comparison to the unknown male DNA profile.

Full Story at Metro News Now

Residents can help Clinton County solve crimes through Crime Stoppers program

Dec. 22, 2020 |

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities are reminding residents living in or near the Clinton County area of the Crime Stoppers agency there.

Those who know of crimes in or around the area can send tips to law enforcement through the P3 Tips app.

When setting it up you can select Iowa as your state and then Clinton as your city and then Clinton County Crime Stoppers as your agency.

You can also submit a tip using this link or by calling 563-242-6595 or 888-883-8015.

Full Story at

Crime Story of the Year: Arrest made in 21-year-old murder cold case

Dec. 18, 2020 | By Sam Pimper, The Daily Nonpareil

The most shocking crime development of this year was an arrest being made in relation to a multiple-decade Council Bluffs cold-case homicide.

Kimberly Ratliff

Kimberly Ratliff

In mid-October, the Council Bluffs Police Department announced that 52-year-old Matt Kennedy was arrested in connection with the death of his step-sister, Kimberly Ratliff, who in January 1999 was found inside of her vehicle brutally murdered in the 1400 block of West Broadway.

Kennedy at the time of his arrest was a resident of Fairfield, Montana, but was living in Council Bluffs at the time of the murder. He was taken into custody and held in Teton County Jail prior to being extradited back to Iowa, according to Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber. He remains in custody in Pottawattamie County Jail awaiting a Dec. 21 arraignment.

Kennedy is charged with first-degree murder.

Wilber said making headway on the case after all these years is a big deal, but noted that tons of work must be done to ensure its ready to present to the court and a jury if no plea is reached.

Full Story at The Nonpareil

Iowa’s Unsolved: New technology could lead to answers in 49-year-old cold case

Oct. 28, 2020 | by Cymphanie Sherman,

AMANA, Iowa — It’s been nearly five decades since the murder of Karen Streed.

Karen Streed (Courtesy CBS2Iowa)

The 21-year-old was last seen on October 18, 1971.

Six days later her body was found in the old Amana Millrace.

She had been shot four times in the head.

Sheriff Rotter, with the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office, said Streed old her friends she was going to hitchhike that day to see her husband in Iowa City.

“In the late 60s, early 70s, hitchhiking was really prevalent and unfortunately, in the United States we had a lot of homicides that happened along highways and they were people who were killed hitchhiking,” said Rotter.

Streed’s case is determined a crime of opportunity, meaning her killer didn’t plan it.

Full story at

Sheriff confirms remains found in missing Hampton man’s vehicle

Oct. 27, 2020 | by Lisa Grouette, Ashley Stewart, The Globe Gazette, Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Ethan Kazmerzak
(Courtesy Hampton Police Dept.)

Human remains have been found inside a car belonging to Ethan Kazmerzak, a Hampton man who has been missing since 2013.

Jared Leisek, a scuba diver and YouTuber, posted the update on his YouTube channel “Adventures With Purpose” on Tuesday afternoon.

“It will not be until after a coroner’s report that we can confirm the remains found are Ethan’s,” he wrote.

Leisek said in an interview with the Globe Gazette that the vehicle was located around 90 feet from the edge of a pond near Olive Avenue in rural Hampton. The top of the vehicle was only approximately eight feet below the surface of the water.

Full Story at The Globe Gazette

Arrest made in 21-year-old murder case of Council Bluffs woman

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 | by Courtney Brummer-Clark, The Daily Nonpareil

Matthew W. Kennedy
Courtesy Teton County (Montana) Sheriff’s Office

An arrest has been made in the 1999 murder of a Council Bluffs woman.

On Friday, Council Bluffs police detectives requested and were granted an arrest warrant for Matt W. Kennedy, accusing him of first-degree murder. Detectives allege that Kennedy was involved in the brutal murder of his stepsister, Kimberly M. Ratliff, the Council Bluffs Police Department said in a press release.

Kimberly Ratliff

Kimberly Ratliff

Matt Kennedy, 52, is a resident of Fairfield, Montana; he was living in Council Bluffs at the time of the murder.

Kennedy was taken into custody and is being held in the Teton County Jail, pending extradition to Iowa. The case remains an active investigation, police said.

Police also said no further information will be released regarding Kennedy’s arrest until he is back in Iowa.

Full story at The Daily Nonpareil

Dubuque police still seek information as October killings go cold

Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 | by Bennet Goldstein,

Jimmy Richardson (Courtesy Telegraph-Herald)

Although the case has gone cold, Shelby Johnson still seeks to slam down the gavel of justice atop a Dubuque man’s killer.

Five years ago today, Jimmy Richardson was shot and killed in Dubuque’s North End. He left behind a 7-month-old son and the boy’s mother, Johnson.

“I know (investigators) are doing the best that they can do with what they have,” she said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Richardson, 21, of Freeport, Ill., was shot and killed Oct. 4, 2015. Police have made no arrests in connection with the case.

Although the department has several leads, investigators have struggled to obtain cooperation from people with direct knowledge of the incident.

Full story at the Telegraph-Herald

Iowa’s Unsolved: Hope reignited, after guilty verdict in another cold case

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 | by Cymphanie Sherman,

LINN COUNTY, Iowa — Back in February, Prosecutor Nick Maybanks stood in court, pleading the jury to find Jerry Burns guilty in the murder of Michelle Martinko.

She’s the Kennedy High senior who was found murdered in the Westdale Mall parking lot on December 19, 1979.

The jury did in fact find Jerry Burns guilty.

Patti Wilson heard the news Martinko’s case was finally closed and felt hopeful.

She’s been waiting 37 years to find out who killed her brother, Ronald Novak.

Full story at

DATELINE NBC: And Then There Were Three

On Monday night, Sept. 14, 2020, Dateline NBC aired their episode about Michelle Martinko’s 1979 murder, with interviews of Cedar Rapids investigators, Gazette courts reporter Trish Mehaffey, Michelle’s friends and her relatives.

The episode is part of Dateline’s Monday Mysteries true crime series.


Watch the trailer blow.

Knicker’s Bar basement searched by Iowa Major Crime Unit

September 14, 2020 | by AJ Capuano,

DUBUQUE, Iowa. (KWWL) — Investigators with the Iowa state’s Major Crime Unit confirmed to KWWL Monday morning that members had conducted a search at Knicker’s Saloon in Dubuque on Tuesday.

Mike Krapfl, Special Agent in Charge with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, said the search was part of an “ongoing investigation.” No additional details are being released at this time.

Crystal Arensdorf

Two bar employees confirmed to KWWL that investigators searched the basement of the establishment.

Curtis Gerhard, a former owner of Knicker’s Saloon, declined KWWL’s request for comment Monday, as did one of the Saloon’s two current owners. The latter referred KWWL to the Facebook statement above.

Notably, Knicker’s Saloon was the last known whereabouts of Crystal Arensdorf, the subject of a prominent “cold case” that dates back to 2001.

Full story at

$100,000 reward still stands 7 years after Hampton man went missing

Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 |

HAMPTON, Iowa — The Hampton Police Department wants to remind Iowans that it has been nearly seven years since Ethan Kazmerzak went missing, and a reward for his safe return still stands.

Ethan Kazmerzak

Kazmerzak would now be 29 years old. He went missing sometime in the early morning hours on Sept. 15, 2013.

Police said at the time Ethan went missing, he had dark blond hair, had a beard, wears glasses, and has a Grateful Dead tattoo on his upper left arm. He was last seen wearing peach/orange colored shorts and a white/teal printed shirt. He was driving a silver 2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI with Iowa license plate AUZ382. The car and Ethan still are missing.

There is still a $100,000 reward offered for any relevant and useful information that leads to the current location and/or safe return of Ethan Kazmerzak. Police said the reward has been pooled together by a group of anonymous donors.

Full story at

Monday’s Dateline NBC episode on Michelle Martinko features Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey

Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 | The Gazette

Dateline NBC on Monday night will be airing their episode about the 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko, with interviews of Cedar Rapids investigators, Gazette courts reporter Trish Mehaffey, Michelle’s friends and her relatives.

The episode will air at 9 p.m. on NBC and is part of Dateline’s Monday Mysteries true crime series.

Dennis Murphy reported for the newsmagazine and the episode is titled “And then there were three.”

As described in Dateline’s sneak peek video: “Days before Christmas, a high school senior is found dead in her car after visiting the mall. It would take almost 40 years for investigators to identify her killer.”

Full story at The Gazette

Watch full episode online here.

Iowa’s Unsolved: Hotel murders still haunt Amana community, 40 years later

September 8, 2020 | by Cymphanie Sherman, KGAN

(KGAN) – It’s a day still haunting the Amana community, September 12, 1980.

That’s the day Rose Burkert, 22, and Roger Atkison, 32, checked in to the Holiday Inn.

The next day, a housekeeper found the couple murdered inside room 260.

There was blood spatter covering the room.

Both victim’s bodies were face down on the bed, their skulls were beaten by what appears to be a hatchet or machete.

Iowa County Sheriff Rob Rotter was 12-years-old that day.

He remembers the news like it was just yesterday.

Full story at

Decades after daughter’s murder, former SC mom awaits closure. Genealogy could be key

August 28, 2020 | by Lyn Riddle,

When Joann Zywicki leaves her bedroom every morning, the first thing she sees is a photo of her daughter, propped up in a glass-front bookcase.

Some friends have suggested she put the photo away.

“I don’t have to see the picture to remind me of her,” Zywicki always responds.

Tammy Zywicki and her cat Bob in a family photo taken not long before she died. (Courtesy Joann Zywicki and

She has lived 28 years without her daughter, Tammy, a Greenville native who was murdered sometime during her trip back to Grinnell College in Iowa for her senior year.

Zywicki doesn’t know for sure when Tammy died, or where. And worse, she doesn’t know who killed Tammy and left her body on the side of an interstate highway 500 miles from where she was last seen.

Read the full story at The State

Iowa’s Unsolved: The case of Geraldine Maggert, more than five decades later

July 27, 2020 | by Cymphanie Sherman,

Geraldine Maggert

Geraldine Maggert

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa — It’s a case sitting cold for more than fifty years, the homicide of 25-year-old Geraldine Maggert.

She was last seen on March 22, 1968.

Around two weeks later, her body was found.

“It was April 6, 1968, actually some boy scout troops were hiking out northeast of North Liberty near the reservoir area and found the body during the course of their hike and the autopsy showed she died of beating and exposure,” said Detective Sgt. Brad Kunkel, with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The autopsy also revealed Geraldine was three months pregnant.

Full Story at

BREAKING: Arrest made in 2018 death of Kaiden Estling

June 26, 2020 | by Trevor Oates,

Kelli Jo Michael (Courtesy KWWL)

FAYETTE COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) — Nearly 2 years to the day that a teen was killed while driving his moped south of Fayette, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office announced an arrest in the case.

The sheriff’s office arrested and charged Kelli Jo Michael, 26, of Des Moines on Friday in the death of Kaiden Estling. Michael is charged with homicide by vehicle-reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident – death.

Estling, 14, of Maynard was driving a moped south along Highway 150 on June 28, 2018 when he was hit by a vehicle. It happened about 2 1/2 miles south of Fayette.

Full Story at

Family still has hope for justice, 49 years after daughter’s death

Monday, June 22, 2020 | by Cymphanie Sherman, Iowa’s News Now

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It’s been nearly 50 years since the killing of 17-year-old Maureen Brubaker Farley.

On September 21st, 1971, two young hunters found her body laid across an abandoned car, along a ravine in Cedar Rapids.

That same day, her family received a call no one ever wants to get.

“I hollered David, Maureen’s dead, and he said oh no no no and he kept walking the floor and just saying no no no. It was like a nightmare we couldn’t believe it,” said Mary Ann Brubaker, Maureen’s mother.

Full Story at

Man Puts Fiancée In Choke Hold Before Staging Her Shooting Suicide

June 6, 2020 | by Aly Vander Hayden,

Holly Durben

Holly Rae Durben

Although Holly Durben’s fatal shooting death was ruled undetermined, investigators believed bruising on her neck pointed toward homicide.

In July 2009, sheriff’s deputies in Shenandoah, Iowa responded to a desperate 911 call from a rural farmhouse.

“My girlfriend just shot herself in the f–king head!” Brian Davis told the dispatcher, claiming he found his 29-year-old fiancée, Holly Durben, dead in their bedroom from a gunshot wound.

When first responders arrived, Davis was hysterical, lying down in the middle of the two-lane highway outside the home, and he was quickly transported to the hospital.

Full Story at | Watch the Episode Here

Man charged with 1991 Spring Hill murder arraigned in Maury County

May 28, 2020 | by Mike Christen, The Columbia Daily Herald

Clark Perry Baldwin, the Iowa man charged with the 1991 murder of a woman and her unborn baby in Spring Hill was arraigned in Maury County’s criminal circuit court Thursday afternoon.

Baldwin, 59, who was extradited to Tennessee on May 15 after being arrested without incident on May 6, called into the courtroom from the Maury County Jail using a video conferencing platform as part of the local court’s effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

During the arraignment, Judge David Allen assigned a court appointed attorney to Baldwin’s case and set a settlement date for Sept. 8, 2020, Court Clerk Sandy McLain told The Daily Herald.

Baldwin remains held in the Maury County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Full Story at the Columbia Daily Herald

How a true crime book and a DNA hit led to an arrest in Spring Hill’s coldest case — and maybe more

May 18, 2020 | By Natalie Neysa Alund / The Tennessean

Spring Hill Lt. Justin Whitwell, training officer Ty Hadley and police evidence technician Melissa Wilson stand together on Saturn Parkway on May 11, 2020, near the location where the body of Pamela Rose Aldridge McCall was found in 1991. The group recently helped solve McCall’s cold case.
(Photo: Shelley Mays/The Tennessean)

About a year ago, Spring Hill Police Department patrolman Ty Hadley saw a book on a desk inside a co-worker’s office and unknowingly started a life-changing conversation.

The hardback, “In the Name of the Children” by retired FBI Special Agent Jeffrey L. Rinek, belonged to Melissa Wilson, the department’s evidence technician manager and his colleague of seven years.

“I don’t like true crime, but it would be really cool to solve a cold case,” said Hadley, a 31-year-old field training officer with the department, which covers just over 26 square miles of Middle Tennessee.

“We have one,” Wilson said. “And we have a lot of good evidence on it.”

Little did the duo know their chat would not only help close a nearly 30-year-old homicide case in their department, but lead to the discovery of a man accused of being a serial killer whose victims span two states and counting.

Full Story at The Columbia Daily Herald

Woman who lived with suspected Iowa serial killer struggles to reconcile ‘gentle giant’ she knew with murders he’s accused of committing

May 8, 2020 | by Charles Flesher and Andrea May Sahouri, Des Moines Register

The Iowa man charged with the murders of three young women in the early 1990s was a “gentle giant” who was generous with those close to him, a friend of the accused killer says.

Tanya Edwards Huddleston said she cannot reconcile her memories of Clark Perry Baldwin, who welcomed her young family into his home more than a decade ago, with the portrait of a cold-blooded killer described in media reports about his arrest.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me at all,” Edwards Huddleston said Thursday from her home in Matoaca, Virginia.

“If this is true, it scares me to death to think I had my baby living there,” she said.

Jamie Jones paints a different picture of Baldwin, 58, who was arrested Wednesday in Waterloo and charged with two counts of murder in the 1991 killings of 32-year-old Pamela Rose McCall and her unborn fetus in Tennessee. He’s also charged in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in 1992 roughly 400 miles apart in Wyoming.

Full story at The Des Moines Register

Police: Clark Perry Baldwin ‘does not appear to have been involved’ in 1992 killing of Iowan Tammy Zywicki

May 8, 2020 | by Associated Press/Des Moines Register

Tammy Zywicki

Tammy Zywicki (Courtesy Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Authorities in Illinois say an Iowa man charged in 1990s serial killings “does not appear to have been involved” in the unsolved 1992 slaying of a college student.

The Illinois State Police said Friday that Clark Perry Baldwin is not a suspect in the death of 21-year-old Tammy Zywicki.

The statement appeared to rule out what had seemed to be a promising lead in the case of Zywicki, who was abducted after experiencing car troubles on Interstate 80 near La Salle, Illinois in 1992. She was returning from Evanston, Illinois to Grinnell College in Iowa. Her body was found in Missouri days later, with evidence of stabbing and sexual assault.

Full story at The Des Moines Register

Accused serial killer Clark Perry Baldwin being investigated in 1992 slaying of Tammy Jo Zywicki

May 8, 2020 | By Andrea Cavallier, / Dateline

A former long-haul truck driver from Iowa who was charged Wednesday in the killings of three women that took place in the 1990s could be responsible for several other homicides, according to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

Clark Perry Baldwin, 59, was arrested in Waterloo, Iowa, after new DNA evidence allegedly tied him to three women who were killed and their bodies dumped in Wyoming and Tennessee, according to investigators.

DCI Special Agent Mike Krapfl told Dateline that they “have been contacted by several state agencies that have similar circumstances and we obviously work with them to determine if there is any connection.”

One of those cases is the 1992 killing of 21-year-old Iowa college student Tammy Jo Zywicki. Tammy was featured in Dateline NBC’s “Cold Case Spotlight” series in August 2019. She was last seen after her car broke down on an Illinois highway. Witnesses told authorities a man driving a semi-trailer was seen near her vehicle.

Full Story at

Multiple murder suspect questioned on Iowa cold cases

May 7, 2020 | by Jeff Reinitz, Waterloo Courier

WATERLOO — A Waterloo man charged with cold case slayings in Wyoming and Tennessee has been questioned by investigators about a crime in Iowa.

Clark Perry Baldwin, 59, was detained Wednesday in Waterloo on murder warrants relating to four victims from cases in the early 1990s.

During an appearance at the Black Hawk County Jail on Thursday, Baldwin waived extradition proceedings, opening the way to for him to be transported out of Iowa to face the charges.

During the brief hearing, Baldwin told the court he had visited with a Division of Criminal Investigation agent.

“I talked with the Iowa DCI yesterday, and he was talking about a case locally,” Baldwin said, wearing a face mask as part of the jail’s COVID-19 protocols.

Baldwin didn’t mention the local case, and Iowa DCI officials have only said they are assisting Tennessee and Wyoming agencies in the investigation.

Full Story at the Quad-City Times

Suspected serial killer arrested in Iowa. Here’s what we know about Clark Perry Baldwin.

May 7, 2020 | by Charles Flesher and Jon Garcia, The Des Moines Register

An Iowa man has been charged in the killings of three women in Wyoming and Tennessee in the 1990s, including two who were pregnant.

Clark Perry Baldwin, 58, was taken into custody Wednesday at his Waterloo home after investigators linked his DNA with semen and other materials recovered from the victims.

Here is what we know so far:

FULL DETAILS: Suspected serial killer arrested in Iowa linked to 1990s slayings

Who is Clark Perry Baldwin?

Baldwin graduated from Nashua-Plainfield High School in 1979 and worked as an over-the-road truck driver for most of his career, living in Nashua and Waterloo, Iowa, and Springfield, Missouri.

Full Story at The Des Moines Register

Former truck driver arrested in Iowa, suspect in at least 3 murders dating back to 1990s: DNA allegedly links Clark Perry Baldwin, 58, to slayings of women in Tennessee and Wyoming.

May 7, 2020 | By David K. Li,

Iowa police arrested a former long-haul trucker for allegedly killing three women in Tennessee and Wyoming nearly 30 years ago — and are looking at his possible connections to other unsolved slayings, officials said Thursday.

Clark Perry Baldwin, a 58-year-old resident of Waterloo, Iowa, was taken into custody on Wednesday. He was booked for the 1991 Tennessee murder of Pamela Rose McCall and her unborn fetus and the 1992 Wyoming slayings of two unidentified women.

DNA matches him to those Wyoming and Tennessee slayings, authorities said.

“It’s certainly satisfying for all the investigators who have worked on these cases, but that pales in comparison to answers to these lingering questions of the families (of victims),” Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mike Krapfl told NBC News on Thursday.

Baldwin appeared in a Waterloo court on Thursday and waived extradition, not challenging his transportation to Tennessee, according to Krapfl. It wasn’t immediately known if Baldwin had retained a lawyer in Tennessee where he will be prosecuted first, officials said.

Full Story at

Iowa man arrested in connection with 1991 Spring Hill killings of woman, unborn child

May 6, 2020 | The Tennessean / Des Moines Register

Pamela Rose Aldridge McCall, who was born in Cedar Rapids but lived in Virginia, shown in an undated family photo. McCall and her unborn daughter were killed in Tennessee in 1991. After nearly 30 years, her alleged murderer was arrested Wednesday in Waterloo, Iowa thanks to DNA evidence. (Photo: Provided photo/Special to the Register)

DES MOINES — An Iowa man suspected in the 1991 murder of a woman and her unborn baby in Spring Hill has been arrested and is pending extradition to Tennessee.

Clark Perry Baldwin, 59, was taken into custody Wednesday at his Waterloo, Iowa, home, according to a news release from the office of Brent Cooper, attorney general of the 22nd Judicial District in Tennessee.

Baldwin, a former truck driver, will face two charges of first-degree murder of Virginia native Pamela “Rose” Aldridge McCall, 33, and her unborn child. He is suspected of committing two additional homicides in the 1990s.

Baldwin is expected to also be charged with two counts of murder in Wyoming, the release stated.

“I’m sure he thought it had been forgotten about,” said Brent Cooper, attorney general of the 22nd Judicial District in Tennessee. “He certainly hoped it had.”

Full Story at The Tennessean

DNA leads federal investigators to suspected serial killer in Iowa; Clark Perry Baldwin charged with killing 3 women in 1990s

May 6, 2020 | by Tyler J. Davis, Charles Flesher and Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

An Iowa man suspected of murdering three women in the early 1990s was arrested Wednesday at his Waterloo home after investigators linked his DNA with semen and other materials recovered from the victims.

Clark Perry Baldwin, 58, is charged with two counts of murder in the 1991 Tennessee killing of 32-year-old Pamela Rose McCall and her unborn fetus.

Clark Perry Baldwin

Clark Perry Baldwin (Courtesy photo Black Hawk County Jail/Special to the Register)

He’s also charged in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in 1992 roughly 400 miles apart in Wyoming. The women, who were never identified, are referred to as “Bitter Creek Betty” and “I-90 Jane Doe.”

Federal authorities used forensic genealogy — the practice of using genetic information in online databases — and looked at similar cases, which eventually led them to Baldwin, said Brent Cooper, attorney general of the 22nd Judicial District in Tennessee.

Last month in Waterloo, the FBI secretly collected DNA from Baldwin’s trash and a shopping cart he used at Walmart. Testing revealed that the DNA profiles from the samples matched the samples from the suspect in the Tennessee and Wyoming cases.

Full Story at The Des Moines Register

Woman still searching for justice in sister Corinne Perry’s murder nearly 40 years after she was killed after leaving Iowa laundromat

April 10, 2020 | by Andrea Cavallier, Dateline NBC

Read the story at

Corinne Elaine Perry
(Creston High School Senior Photo)

Corinne Elaine Perry had a bright future ahead of her. Just a month away from graduation, the 17-year-old high school senior had just earned a scholarship to Simpson College in Iowa and planned to double major in psychology and acting.

“She had everything going for her,” Corinne’s sister Letitia Perry DenHartog told Dateline. “She was this vivacious, smart girl with long strawberry-blonde hair who loved being on the stage. That was her thing.”

Letitia said her little sister belonged to Creston High School’s mime troupe, acted in several plays and competed in Speech contests. She was popular in school and loved to spend time with her family and friends.

Letitia, Corinne, and their two older sisters, were very close growing up. They never lived in one place very long. Their father, Donald Perry, was in the Air Force and the family traveled with him for years until he finally retired, and they moved to Creston, Iowa.

On April 17, 1983, tragedy shattered the family.

Full story at

Inmate on death row may know secrets about Jodi Huisentruit case

April 9, 2020 | by Beret Leone,

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — The secret of Jodi Huisentruit‘s disappearance could die with the execution of a notorious Iowa drug kingpin.

Dustin Honken is up for execution for the murder of five people in the 1990s — and supposedly knows who abducted the television news anchor back in June of 1995.

Steve Ridge is an investigative journalist who’s dedicated the last 19 months looking into Jodi’s case. Ridge says an accomplice of Honken’s, Angela Johnson — who is also serving time in prison for her part in the murders– claims that Honken knows who abducted Jodi.

Honken was set to be executed in January, but a U.S. District Court of Appeals intervened, halting the sentence being carried out. Now, with the global pandemic, Ridge says it’s unclear when Honken will be executed.

Ridge believes Johnson’s claims are something worth checking out.

Full Story at

Sentencing reset to June for Manchester man convicted of killing Michelle Martinko — Jerry Burns faces life in prison for 1979 slaying in Cedar Rapids

March 25, 2020 | by Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sentencing for a Manchester man convicted last month for killing 18-year-old Michelle Martinko in 1979 has been delayed again, this time because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover on Wednesday reset sentencing for Jerry Burns, 66, to June 19 in Linn County District Court.

The sentencing previously was set for April 17 before the Iowa Supreme Court ordered all trials would be reset to after April 20, and that in sentencings a prosecutor, defense lawyer or defendant could request to appear remotely.

The judge’s order for the reset sentencing date doesn’t state why this sentencing was continued. During the COVID-19 crisis, judges will have discretion to continue court proceedings, according to the Chief Justice Susan Christensen’s orders.

Full Story at The Gazette

Meet the man who was on a mission to solve the Michelle Martinko murder: Cedar Rapids Investigator Matthew Denlinger ‘indispensable’ in cold case

March 9, 2020 | by Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

Cedar Rapids police Investigator Matthew Denlinger stands Thursday for a photo in the crime lab at the department’s headquarters in southwest Cedar Rapids. He was lead investigator in the Michelle Martinko murder cold case. Four decades after the killing, suspect Jerry Burns of Manchester was convicted last month of first-degree murder. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — He didn’t start out thinking he was going to solve a cold case murder that haunted Cedar Rapids for 38 years, but he always believed it would happen someday because the victim’s family deserved to know.

Matthew Denlinger was only 5 when Michelle Martinko, an 18-year-old high school senior, was attacked and stabbed to death Dec. 19, 1979, at the recently opened Westdale Mall. Her body was found the next day in her family’s Buick near J.C. Penney.

As he got older, he learned more about the case because his father, Harvey Denlinger, was a Cedar Rapids police detective at the time. The older Denlinger joined the department in 1970 and by 1979 had been promoted to a detective, now called investigator.

Full Story at The Gazette

Exposing DNA’s secrets: What Jerry Burns’ arrest and conviction could mean for the future of genetic privacy

February 29, 2020 | by Anna Spoerre, The Des Moines Register

CeCe Moore was losing sleep.

The genetic genealogist was in discussions about leading a new project at Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia to help law enforcement solve cold cases. Using DNA profiles from genetic material left at crime scenes, she would then reverse-engineer family trees to narrow pools of suspects.

Moore was already a pioneer in the world of genetic genealogy, first using her expertise to help solve family mysteries, like finding the parents of adopted children or long-lost grandparents.

Now, thanks to continued improvements to DNA technology, Parabon wanted her to analyze crime scene DNA samples with the methods she was using in her practice. She could work with hundreds of thousands of genetic markers to match DNA profiles to fourth cousins and beyond.

Full Story at The Des Moines Register

‘This is Michelle’s day’: Jury convicts Iowa man of first-degree murder in 1979 slaying of Cedar Rapids teen

February 24, 2020 | The Des Moines Register

DAVENPORT, Ia. — For nearly 40 years, the family of slain high schooler Michelle Martinko waited for an arrest. Then for proof. Then for a verdict.

The wait ended Monday, when a jury convicted Jerry Lynn Burns of first-degree murder in the 1979 stabbing death of 18-year-old Martinko. It was a case, Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said, “that has haunted our community for decades.”

“We don’t exactly know the whys and some of the details, but we definitely know who did it, and that was terribly important to us,” Janelle Stonebraker, Michelle Martinko’s older sister, said after the verdict was read. “I wish my parents could be here to see this.”

The sisters’ parents died more than 20 years ago, Albert Martinko in 1995 and his wife, Janet, in 1998.

Burns, 66, was arrested at his Manchester business on Dec. 19, 2018 — the 39th anniversary of Martinko’s death — and charged with first-degree murder in Martinko’s slaying. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Full Story at The Register

After denied mistrial motion, testimony in Michelle Martinko murder case concludes

February 21, 2020 |

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KCRG) – The trial for a man accused of killing a Cedar Rapids teenager more than 40 years ago is nearing its conclusion.

66-year-old Jerry Burns was back in court Friday after he was accused of killing 18-year-old Michelle Martinko outside the Westdale Mall in December 1979.

Prosecutors called only one witness, but that questioning took longer than expected- after Burns’ attorney said the prosecution was out of line and asked for a mistrial.

Paul Bush has been with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation for 38 years, and he has served as a Criminalist Supervisor in the Iowa DCI crime lab for nearly a decade. He said he is very familiar with the practices of handling and testing evidence at the state level- and he spoke in contradiction of Thursday’s witness, Dr. Michael Spence, a self-defined forensic DNA consultant.

Full Story at

Prosecutors Rest Their Case Against Man Accused Of Killing Martinko

February 19, 2020 | Iowa Public Radio

Prosecutors in the trial of Jerry Lynn Burns rested their case Wednesday. Burns is suspected of killing high schooler Michelle Martinko in Cedar Rapids in 1979 and he faces a first degree murder charge.

Eighteen-year-old Martinko was found stabbed to death in her family’s Buick parked in the Westdale Mall parking lot early on the morning of December 20, 1979. Her killing upended the lives of her family members and shocked Cedar Rapids residents. The case has stuck in the memories of many for decades.

Thirty-nine years after Martinko was killed, investigators arrested 66-year-old Burns of Manchester, Iowa, after covertly collecting his DNA and testing it. Genetic material retrieved from a straw that Burns used is consistent with DNA found on the dress Martinko was wearing when she died, according to court testimony by forensic genetics experts.

Full Story at Iowa Public Radio

Experts lay groundwork for genetic genealogy arguments as trial continues for man accused of killing Michelle Martinko

February 15, 2020 |

DAVENPORT, Ia. — James Kinkead had finished responding to a fight in Cedar Rapids when dispatch sent him to Westdale Mall in search of a tan 1972 Buick.

It was about 4 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1979, when Kinkead, an overnight police officer in Cedar Rapids, came across the frost-covered car in the mall’s lower lot. It was cold and windy that night, Kinkead, now 73 and retired, recalled Thursday.

All but the rear driver’s side door were locked, he told dispatch before opening the door and peering inside. He noticed someone slumped on the floor in the front passenger seat. At first glance, he assumed it was an intoxicated woman who had passed out. Then he saw the blood.

Full Story at The Des Moines Register

Retired police, criminalists describe handling of evidence in Michelle Martinko murder case

February 14, 2020 |

DAVENPORT — Retired law enforcement officials and criminalists testified Friday about how DNA evidence from the Michelle Martinko fatal stabbing in 1979 was tested over the years as investigators continued their search for who killed the 18-year-old.

Most of the witnesses, testifying in the first-degree murder trial of Jerry Burns, 66, of Manchester, who is accused of killing Martinko, had submitted evidence to or returned evidence from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation crime lab.

They all said they followed standard procedures and protocols in protecting Martinko’s bloody clothing and other items.

Full Story at The Gazette

Austin radio host joins

February 6, 2020 |

(ABC 6 News) — The search to find Jodi Huisentruit has been an ongoing effort ever since the former Mason City TV news anchor disappeared while on her way to work nearly 25 years ago.

Austin radio host and ‘Frozen Truth’ podcaster Scott Fuller is teaming up with to produce a FindJodi branded podcast. (Courtesy photo KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company)

Austin radio host Scott Fuller has spent years of time and attention on Jodi’s case.

“About three years ago here for the radio station, I did a podcast called ‘What Happened to Jodi?’ It was very short, very basic information about the case. A year after that I did an in-depth investigation for a podcast that I produce, that I own called ‘Frozen Truth,’ and I did a whole season, 15 episodes on Jodi there,” said Fuller.

Now, he’s joining the official team to produce a FindJodi branded podcast.

Full Story at

Jerry Burns’ deviant computer activity will be kept out of Michelle Martinko murder trial, judge rules: Activity shows possible motive, prosecution argued

February 5, 2020 | by Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors cannot use evidence that a Manchester man, accused of killing Michelle Martinko in 1979, has a “fetish” for viewing internet pornography that feature blonde women sexually assaulted and killed, to show a possible motive.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover, in her ruling, said searches and website visits conducted by Jerry Burns, 66, charged with first-degree murder, occurred in 2018 — “no less than 38 years after the date of the alleged crime”- lessens its relevance to the fatal stabbing of the 18-year-old Martinko and “is unduly prejudicial” to Burns and could possibly eliminate his right to a fair trial.

Hoover said there would also be a risk that Burns would be convicted based upon his taste in pornography rather than “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that he killed Martinko.

Full Story at The Gazette

Man accused of killing Michelle Martinko takes the stand in his own defense as evidence suppression hearing concludes

January 24, 2020 | by Aaron Scheinblum,

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – For the first time, the man accused of murdering Cedar Rapids woman Michelle Martinko more than 40 years ago answered questions in court.

66-year-old Jerry Burns of Manchester is accused of stabbing and killing high school student Michelle Martinko while she was out at the Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids in December 1979.

Friday was the third and final day of a hearing to suppress key evidence against him, including potentially linking Burns’ DNA to the crime scene as well as search history on his computer.

Burns’ attorney Leon Spies called Burns as a witness, testifying how he felt he should have had an attorney prior to his arrest in late 2018. Burns claimed he directly requested or implied his desire for an attorney after he agreed to talk with police at his business in Manchester.

Full Story at

Taking genetic genealogy sites to trial: Iowa homicide case among first of its kind to argue DNA requires search warrant

January 19, 2020 | by Anna Spoerre, The Des Moines Register

In the spring of 2018, the genealogy database GEDmatch helped police identify a man they believe to be the once-prolific Golden State Killer.

A few months later, investigators in eastern Iowa waited for 64-year-old Jerry Burns to finish eating at the Manchester Pizza Ranch. Authorities then slid on gloves and retrieved Burns’ discarded straw.

The DNA on that straw was one of the final puzzle pieces police needed to make an arrest in a cold murder case that haunted Cedar Rapids for almost four decades.

Full Story at The Des Moines Register

Editorial: DNA and DuPage County: How shaking family trees should solve more murder cases

January 17, 2020 | By The Editorial Board, The Chicago Tribune

On Monday, DuPage County authorities revealed that an amazing investigative technique has implicated Bruce Lindahl in the 1976 sexual assault and murder of a 16-year-old Woodridge girl, Pamela Maurer.

On Tuesday, the Tribune posted a report that the same technique had excluded Lindahl as the person responsible for the 1972 sexual assault and murder of a 16-year-old Naperville girl, Julie Ann Hanson.

One allegation of certain guilt, one declaration of certain innocence.

Lindahl, whom some officials suspect was a serial killer, fatally wounded himself in 1981 while stabbing to death 18-year-old Charles Huber in a Naperville apartment. Lindahl, 29 when he died, also is a prime suspect in the 1979 disappearance of a Downers Grove North High School student, Deb McCall, and the 1980 killing of Deb Colliander, whom he had been charged with previously kidnapping and assaulting.

Full Story at The Chicago Tribune

Suppression hearings continue for man accused of killing Michelle Martinko

January 16, 2020 | by KCRG-TV9 News Staff

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The man accused of murdering a woman 40 years ago in Cedar Rapids is back in court. Thursday marked the second day of suppression hearings for Jerry Burns.

Burns is accused of stabbing and killing high school student Michelle Martinko while she was out shopping for a winter coat.

Thursday’s hearing will be the first time the defense can call and cross-examine witnesses. Last week’s meeting was cut short before they had that chance.

The defense team for Jerry Burns argued the court should throw out key DNA evidence, as well as information gathered from Burns’ cell phone and computer. They say because there was no warrant to get his DNA, investigators should not be able to use the information they acquired thereafter.

Full Story at

Muscatine murder case to be featured on NBC’s Dateline

January 16, 2020 | by Andrea Grubaugh, Quad-City Times

MMUSCATINE — A Muscatine law firm will be featured in an episode of NBC’s Dateline on Friday.

Corey Wieneke

Corey Wieneke

The episode, which airs at 8 p.m., centers on the 2019 trial of Annette Cahill, tried twice for the second-degree murder of her boyfriend, Corey Wieneke, in 1992.

Clemens A. Erdahl and Elizabeth A. Araguas from Nidey Erdahl Pilkington Meier & Araguas, PLC represented Cahill, of Tipton, who was tried twice. Her first trial in March 2019 ended in a hung jury. In September 2019, the jury found her guilty of second-degree murder after three days of jury deliberations.

Full Story at Quad-City times

Rita Papakee case update — Missing since January 2015

January 16, 2020 | Indian Country Today

Rita Papakee

Rita Papakee

The Rita Papakee missing person investigation has been arguably the most important, most concerning, and most time extensive case in the history of the Meskwaki Nation Police Department (MNPD). Understanding its significance, officers involved continue to be troubled that the case has not yet been solved.

As department members continue to build relationships with the community and the Rita Papakee family, they seek to find new leads to uncover the truth. They encourage the people who know what happened to Papakee to speak up.

Chief of Police Jacob Molitor stated, “With this case update, I am finding a balance between providing relevant information to the community and maintaining the integrity of the investigation. At this point, thousands of hours have been spent on the case between the FBI, DCI, Meskwaki Nation Police Department and other area agencies who have collected and shared information with us. We take this case very seriously. Rita’s family and the community deserve answers, but unfortunately many questions remain.”

Full Story at Indian Country Today

Court fight begins over key DNA evidence in Michelle Martinko killing: Defendant Jerry Burns wants court to toss main evidence against him

January 10, 2020 | by Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — A father-son lunch more than a year ago at the Manchester Pizza Ranch yielded a key piece of evidence that is now part of a legal fight to determine the strength of the case against Jerry Burns, 65, who is accused of murdering Michelle Martinko, 18, over four decades ago.

Friday in a courtroom, a Cedar Rapids police investigator described how in October 2018 he sat in the pizza restaurant at a table in front of Burns. The Manchester man was having lunch with his son, but the officer said he could keep track of which one was drinking out of which glass.

Investigator Matthew Denlinger testified he saw Burns drink several sodas out of a straw, and later secretly snatched the straw so a DNA comparison could be made.

Burns, charged with first-degree murder, is asking the court to toss out DNA evidence linking him to the fatal Dec. 19, 1979, stabbing of Martinko at the Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

Full Story at The Gazette

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