Updated: June 28, 2020 10:40 PM
The disappearance of television news anchor Jodi Huisentruit, 25 years ago this weekend, remains a case of mystery and heartbreak.
"It's a loss and a grieving experience for families,” says Jane Straub, a victim-assistance specialist with the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. “It’s very difficult when you don’t have the answers.”
On June 27, 1995, the 27-year old early morning anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa, simply vanished.
Her coworkers at the time were badly shaken.
“Of course, you just go on with your job,” said Amy Kuns, a producer at the station. “You don’t know what else to do. But I’m scared and concerned.”
Witnesses told police that Huisentruit overslept the morning of her disappearance. She was supposed to report for her anchor shift at 4 a.m. Concerned, staffers called Huisentruit’s apartment.
“She was awake,” Kuns says. “Asking questions about the show. She said, ‘okay, I’ll be there soon.’”
But the 27-year-old never showed.
Police went to Huisentruit’s building and discovered a disturbing scene.
"It looked like a scene where there had been a struggle,” Straub said. "The police showed up, found her car, found her car key, which was bent, and I think there was a shoe and a makeup bag or some other items of hers, but not Jodi."
In the decades since, investigators have interviewed several persons of interest, but police have made no arrests. Despite a billboard campaign and officers canvassing neighborhoods and digging for evidence, there’s been no sign of Huisentruit. Straub hopes that will change.
“After years, there may be someone who no longer has a loyalty or they're not afraid of a person,” she said. “We just want someone to come forward."
Sadly, Huisentruit’s case isn’t unique. The government says 600,000 Americans disappear every year. Many are discovered alive and well, but one government website says tens of thousands of people remain missing for more than a year and are considered cold cases. The site says 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year.
Straub’s advice for families with a missing loved one?
"You don't have to do this alone,” she said. “There are other families out there that you can get support from, and our goal is that no missing person is ever forgotten."
Straub says for those families, birthdays and holidays can be extremely difficult. She says those days might be a time to seek support from other families, or perhaps, release pictures.
Meanwhile, Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley is declining to discuss specifics of the case. But he spoke with the website findjodi.com, saying: “We would ask people with information, if we haven’t talked to them yet, or they haven’t reached out to us, who have been afraid, or scared, or uncertain, or just haven’t known what to do, to do the right thing. Reach out to us or reach out to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Let us talk to you, and let us get that information and see how that fits into what we have.”
"She was very loved,” Straub said. “Her friends, her family, her TV families in all the places she worked, are just grieving and looking for answers… and we want those answers for them.”
Updated: June 28, 2020 10:40 PM
Created: June 28, 2020 10:30 AM
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