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Jodi Huisentruit, a long missing Iowa news anchor, vanished from her apartment complex parking lot in Mason City and has never been seen since. The disappearance of the beautiful and well-liked television journalist is one of the country’s most enduring missing person’s cases.
There’s never been a resolution to the troubling case, but that hasn’t stopped a dedicated team of journalists and law enforcement officers from keeping the investigation alive.. Jodi was 27 when she disappeared in 1995 and was a native of Long Prairie, Minnesota. She anchored the newscast at KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa.
Jodi Huisentruit hasn’t been seen for more than 20 years, but it’s a case that has always underscored the dangers that women in the public eye and on television news can face.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Family, Friends & Police Have Searched for Answers Since 1995
According to the website, Find Jodi, the Mason City, Iowa Police Department “has been investigating the disappearance of television news anchorwoman, Jodi Huisentruit” since 1995. She was abducted “from the parking lot of her apartment complex in the Key Apartments about 4:30 a.m. on June 27th, 1995. Her body has never been found and there have been very few clues that point to a killer,” the site reports.
After all this time, though, it’s become obvious that, tragically, Jodi is not alive. Jodi Huisentruit “was declared legally dead in May of 2001 by a judge in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa,” according to the website, but law enforcement officials have never given up the search for her killer.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Find Jodi website is run by a group of devoted journalists and retired police officers who have never given up on the case. They are still actively investigating leads.
2. It’s Believed That Jodi Was Attacked as She Put a Key in Her Red Mazda Miata
The Find Jodi website describes the tragic sequence of events. “Jodi had gotten home about 9pm on Monday, June 26th, 1995. She had been at a golf tournament at the Mason City Country Club and then went to the home of a friend, John Vansice,” the site reports.
“Vansice told police the two viewed a video tape of her birthday party earlier shot earlier that month. When Jodi returned to her apartment she called a friend in Mississippi. The friend said Jodi sounded cheerful and happy. Jodi normally left for work around 3 a.m. But this morning she overslept. Her producer called at 3:45 a.m. and woke Jodi up. The producer said everything sounded okay. Jodi said she would be right in to work. A subsequent call by producer Amy Kuns at 5:00 a.m. went unanswered,” the site continues.
It was a rainy day that morning of June 27, 1995 and foggy. “At 4:30 a.m., Jodi was in a hurry. She was two hours late getting to work. Amy Kuns was prepared to fill in as the anchor of the morning show and for the hour between 6 and 7 a.m. Amy presented the news of the day to viewers in the Mason City area,” reports Find Jodi. She may have been exhausted from playing golf the day before.
“At 7:13 a.m. the police department received a call from Jodi’s co-workers requesting they do a welfare check at her apartment. An attacker is believed to have struck Jodi as she attempted to insert the key into the door of her red Mazda Miata.”
3. Jodi Fought Her Attacker & a Suspicious Van Was Spotted That Day
According to Find Jodi, the evidence at the scene indicates that Jodi fought her attacker. “The key was bent in the lock. The blood evidence at the scene indicates Jodi was injured and fighting for her life,” the site described.
“In an apparent effort to fend off her attacker Jodi drops a pair of red dress shoes, her purse, a hair dryer, a bottle of hair spray, car keys and earrings. Part of the evidence at the scene was a palm print. Police also recovered other evidence at the scene. There were drag marks on the pavement. The dumpster was searched as was the parking lot and park nearby.”
There was a witness who said he saw a strange vehicle. It’s one of the few clues in the case that are publicly known. Randy Linderman said he “was driving to work about 4:30 a.m. and noticed a light colored van sitting in the parking lot as he went by. It caught his attention because the parking lights were on,” the site reports. “He slowed down figuring the vehicle was a police officer. The van he claimed to had seen has never been found. Three neighbors heard screams around 4:30 a.m. but didn’t call the police.”
Jodi was never seen again.
4. A Serial Rapist Was Living a Few Blocks from Jodi’s Apartment Complex
Over the years, many tips have flooded into investigators, and there has never been a named suspect. However, according to The St. Paul Pioneer Press, one person who has been scrutinized is a convicted serial rapist named Tony Dejuan Jackson.
“Jackson was 21 at the time of Huisentruit’s disappearance and living just two blocks from KIMT-TV,” the newspaper reported, adding that Jackson is “serving a life sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Rush City for raping three women that year in Cottage Grove, Inver Grove Heights and St. Paul.”
However, notes the newspaper, no evidence has ever been found connecting Jackson – or anyone else – to Jodi’s case.
As for Vansince, the friend who had seen Jodi the night before, Professional Investigator Magazine reports that he “was a salesman who was about 20 years older than Jodi. Recently he had taken Jodi waterskiing with friends and he named his boat after her. As the investigation proceeded, John Vansice was interviewed and polygraphed. He denied having anything to do with Jodi’s abduction and repeatedly refused media requests for interviews.”
The magazine added of Jackson, “Our investigation found Jackson lived just two blocks from KIMT-TV when Jodi vanished. His girlfriend, who looked a lot like Jodi, broke up with Jackson the week before Jodi was abducted. After our first reports on Jackson suggested he needed a close look, a cell mate claimed that Jackson wrote a rap rhyme about what happened to Jodi.” However, he denied having anything to do with Jodi’s disappearance and was ruled out as a suspect, according to the magazine.
Some are drawing a comparison to the missing person’s case of Houston, Texas sports journalist, Courtney Faye Roland, whose last known contact with family and friends came via a text reporting that she had been followed home from Walgreen’s by a suspicious blue truck.
However, although both women were attractive blonde journalists, there is nothing to connect their cases and, in the case of Roland, she has only been gone a few hours with hope being very much alive that she could be found unharmed.
5. Jodi Was Remembered as Caring & Thoughtful & Loved Ones Have Never Given Up Hope of Learning What Happened to Her
Jodi Huisentrit was a vivacious and caring young woman who left behind a circle of friends and family members who have never stopped looking for her. “We all had that memory of her walking out and just turning back and waving,” friend Kelly Boyle told KARE11 “about the last time their group of friends saw Huisentruit in May 1995.”
Boyle described Huisentruit to the television station as “kind,” “loving and thoughtful,” and someone who “cared so much about her friends and family. She was just such a good person. Good person to have in my life.”
Sadly, Jodi’s mother died at the age of 91 without ever learning what had happened to her daughter. Jodi’s sister Joanne Nathe told WOWT-TV that “she had such a bright future and we were looking forward to her reaching her goals and I just sit and cry.”