Is A Buried Freezer In Rural Iowa the Key to Jodi Huisentruit’s Case?
This year it'll be 27 years Jodi Huisentruit, former KIMT-TV news anchor has been missing. Originally from Long Prairie, Minnesota, abduction is the official position, but with almost no evidence, it's been a hard case to solve.
Tonight at 8 PM on ABC 6, 20/20, will, (for the third time) cover the Huisentruit story. Is there any new information? There just might be. According to a conversation I had with FindJodi.com team member Scott Fuller, a tip generated by findjodi.com led to a police dig and both Scott and 20/20 were there.
"I know tonight 2020 is gonna be showing a law enforcement dig that did relate to Jodi's case, dealing with a buried freezer in rural Iowa......They're digging for the freezer in Iowa that may or may not be related to Jodi's case."
The Jacob Wetterling Case Gives Them Hope for a Solution
(September 3, 2016) KARE 11 is reporting they received a text today from Jacob Wetterling's mother, Patty, saying he had been found and that their hearts are broken. The boy's remains were found after a person of interest in the case led them to a spot in Central Minnesota. Law enforcement have declined to name the location. Read More: Sources Say Jacob Wetterling Has Been Found |
Fuller said the FindJodi team talks about the Wetterling case a lot because, "...outta nowhere, the dominoes started to fall in Jacob's case, and it was solved in the blink of an eye after all those years. So that's the case that the fine Jodi team internally talks about a lot because it kind of keeps us going when it seems hopeless. And is this case ever gonna be solved? Well, they solved Jacob's case. So why not this one?"
Click play to hear the entire conversation from the show this morning. A big thank you to Scott Fuller for joining me this morning. Scroll down to see the automatically generated transcript.
What Do We Know About The Jodi Huisentruit Case?
FindJodi.com hosts a podcast and their latest episode is called, "27 Facts" and is well worth the listen. A rundown of these 27 facts is just a scroll away.
Below is from FindJodi.com, each credit is a link.
Jodi apparently had overslept on the morning of June 27, 1995. She was supposed to be at KIMT-TV, in Mason City, IA, by 3:30 a.m.to begin her news anchor shift. Jodi had spent the day before at the Mason City Chamber of Commerce golf tournament and dinner. She left the Mason City Country Club shortly before 8 p.m. and called a friend in Mississippi at 8:24 p.m
When Jodi failed to show up for work, KIMT-TV assistant producer Amy Kuns awakened Jodi with a phone call about 4:10 a.m. Amy said Jodi assured her she’d be right into work to anchor the 6 a.m. newscast in the studio, located about a mile away. Amy later said nothing sounded out of the ordinary when she talked briefly with Jodi on her landline.
Amy said Jodi had occasionally been late before.
Jodi was apparently abducted about 20 minutes later, next to her car, parked just 12 feet from the entrance of her apartment building.
During the struggle with her abductor, the key to Jodi’s red 1991 Mazda Miata was slightly bent, her red heels, blow dryer, earrings, and hair spray were found scattered on the ground nearby.
Police said there were no eyewitnesses to the abduction. Nobody from the apartment complex called police.
Some apartment residents later told police they heard a scream around the time Jodi was abducted.
At 6 a.m., when Jodi had not shown up for work, Amy Kuns anchored the hour-long newscast in Jodi’s place. Amy had to write and produce the newscast by herself.
Around 7 a.m., just after the newscast ended, Amy asked a coworker to call police to check on Jodi. Although Jodi had been late before, she’d never missed a newscast.
At 7:13 a.m, the KIMT-TV coworker called police.
At 7:16 a.m, the first MCPD officer arrived at Jodi’s apartment complex. There were no signs of Jodi when the officer checked her second-floor apartment. But the officer saw clear signs of a struggle next to Jodi’s car, still parked in the lot below Jodi’s apartment.
The MCPD chief at the time, and several other officers, soon after arrived at the Key apartment complex. Lt. Frank Stearns said the toilet seat was up in Jodi’s apartment, raising some questions if Jodi’s had had a male visitor. In a statement to a Globe Gazette newspaper reporter the day after Jodi was abducted, MCPD Chief Jack Schlieper said, “Police also found no evidence that anyone was with her prior to her disappearance.”
Very little forensic evidence was found at the crime scene. A partial palm print was obtained from Jodi’s car and a strand of hair was also discovered, according to retired MCPD investigator Frank Stearns, in a television interview. Stearns refused to say if a root was attached to the hair. It’s not publicly known if the evidence found is related to Jodi’s disappearance. A witness also approached police stating that he’d seen a white van near Jodi’s car around the time she disappeared.
In a 2004 interview with FindJodi’s Josh Benson and Gary Peterson, Lt. Ron Vande Weerd said, “Unfortunately, in this case, there’s not a lot of evidence, period. But we do have definite parts of the investigation, different things that we know, that we are withholding for just that reason, that if we are able to develop a subject, that we are able to eliminate him or corroborate with him.” When Josh asked if police would consider releasing more evidence at some point, to help solve the investigation, Lt. Vande Weerd said, “Right now, there are no plans to release it. Obviously, we would release it if we felt it could help something. But right now, we are afraid it would just hurt. We don’t have that much to go on and we don’t want to give up what we do have.” (The interview was conducted one year after Josh and Gary co-founded the non-profit FindJodi organization in 2003.)
Jodi’s friend John Vansice, and two other men, arrived at the Key apartments that morning while police were on the scene. Police say Vansice told them he was the last person to see Jodi alive and that she had stopped by his Mason City duplex the night before to watch a video of a surprise 27th birthday party he helped throw for Jodi on June 10th. The party was held at Sully’s bar in a building in Clear Lake, IA. The building was owned by a friend of Jodi’s and Vansice, businessman Aldin Stecker. Stecker’s former wife shot the video. Sources say the 18-minute video was given to Vansice the day before Jodi disappeared.
Police told Vansice to bring the video to the MCPD station. That’s where he was interviewed by investigators.
Jodi spent the weekend before she disappeared, June 23-25th, on a waterskiing trip to Iowa City with Vansice, her good friends Ani Kruse and Tammy Baker, and Vansice’s son Trent, who was a college student in Iowa City at the time. The group stayed at Trent’s apartment. Tammy shared a bedroom with Jodi. She and Jodi met several years earlier when both were working as reporters in Iowa City.
The previous weekend, June 17-18th, Tammy stayed with Jodi at her Mason City apartment. Tammy says they spent time with John Vansice and other friends in Clear Lake that weekend, boating and dancing.
Jodi’s last entry in her personal journal was dated the previous Sunday, June 25th. Jodi wrote about how much fun she’d had waterskiing on Vansice’s boat that weekend. Vansice named the boat after Jodi, although her name was never actually painted on the boat. Vansice, who was 22 years older than Jodi, later told the media he took a polygraph and passed with “flying colors.” Vansice has repeatedly denied any involvement in Jodi’s abduction and has never been arrested or charged in connection with Jodi’s disappearance.
A copy of Jodi’s 84-page personal journal was mailed anonymously in 2008 to a reporter at the Globe Gazette in Mason City. A police investigation revealed it was sent by the wife of former MCPD Chief David Ellingson. Cheryl Ellingson previously worked for the newspaper, but no motive was ever given for whey she sent the journal to her former employer.
Two federal grand juries have reportedly been convened in connection with Jodi’s case. No indictments were handed down by either grand jury. A friend of Vansice, LaDonna Woodford, said she testified Vansice was home when she called him about 6 a.m. on June 27, 1995, and they went for walk in the neighborhood .
In March of 2017, Vansice was subpoenaed by a federal grand in Cedar Rapids, IA. He drove from his home in Phoenix, AZ, to provide a DNA sample, fingerprints, and palm prints. No charges came as a result of that grand jury.
Also in March of 2017, the MCPD obtained a search warrant from a Cerro Gordo County judge to place GPS tracking devices on two vehicles connected to Vansice. Vansice had not owned these vehicles in 1995. Police Chief Jeff Brinkley told “48 Hours” correspondent Jim Axelrod the GPS searches did not produce any evidence.
The search warrant affidavits for the searches have remained sealed, so it’s unknown what probable cause investigators provided the judge to convince him to approve the searches.
Jodi reported to the MCPD she’d been made uncomfortable by a person in a small, newer white truck on a Saturday evening in October 1994. (The truck has been erroneously described sometimes by some police investigators and the media as a black truck.) The truck and the driver have never been identified. Beside the 1994 incident, Jodi also told some friends and a self defense instructor in the months before her abduction about concerns that she might have been followed. Despite those incidents, police have been publicly skeptical about the possibility a stalker may have abducted Jodi.
Jodi would have been easy to stalk. Her home address, apartment unit and phone number were listed in the public Mason City phone directory. Jodi had lived in her apartment, which faced the parking lot, since November 1993. She also had the same work schedule every day and frequently talked about her social and community event plans when she was delivering the news.
A convicted serial rapist in Minnesota, Tony Jackson, was living just 2 blocks from KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa at the time Jodi disappeared. Another convicted sex offender, Tom Corscadden, was also in the general area. Both men are locked up in Minnesota facilities, and both were interviewed by Mason City investigators. Both men denied any involvement in Jodi’s disappearance and were ruled out by police.
A FindJodi billboard in Mason City meant to help generate leads in the case was vandalized on New Years' Eve 2019. The name of a retired investigator and the words “machine shed” were spray-painted on the board. After a 4-day investigation, the vandalism case was closed with no answers to who defaced the billboard, or why.
Almost twenty-seven years since Jodi was abducted, Iowa’s highest-profile unsolved case remains a mystery. Jodi is still missing, no one has been charged with abducting her and her family and loved ones mark another year with no Jodi, no answers.
Jodi was declared legally dead in 2001. On June 27, 2022, Jodi will have been missing 27 years. That is the same number of years that Jodi was alive.