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Cold Case Files



JULY 10, 1955





On July 10, 1955, at approximately 9:30 P.M., Mary Davis put her twenty-two month old daughter, Donna Sue to bed in her crib after giving her a bath.  It was an extremely humid night as temperatures had reached the mid nineties during the day.  The windows were left open to circulate some air in the room.  Shortly after, a white male partially removed the storm screen, entering the residence of 715 Isabella Street (located in a middle class residential neighborhood) through the bedroom window and abducted Donna Sue from her crib.  The kidnapping occurred while her parents were in other rooms of the residence (the father, James Davis, was watching television in the living-room and Mary after putting the other two children ages 11 and 7 to bed, had gone to the kitchen to read the paper). 


Several witnesses in the neighborhood observed a white male in the area acting suspiciously.  He was believed to be carrying something in his arms.  One neighbor alerted the police of this prowler and even attempted to pursue this individual believing that he had burglarized their garage or was “up to no good”.  The time of the call was 9:37 P.M.  The prowler was described as 6’, 145 lbs. (lanky) with dark hair, wearing a white tee shirt and tan “kaki” pants.  At approximately 10:05 P.M., Mr. Davis, while preparing for bed, observed that Donna Sue was not in her crib in their shared bedroom.


Donna Sue Davis’ diaper, pajamas, and plastic pants were found the following afternoon along a roadside (“G” Street) on the outskirts of South Sioux City, Nebraska (just across the Missouri River from Sioux City, Iowa), by a local farmer.  The body of Donna Sue Davis was found a short time later in a cornfield about three-quarters of a mile from where the clothing was located.  The location where the body was found was about eight miles from the Davis home.  The body was left near the road in the first couple of rows of the cornfield where it was easily seen from the road (the corn was approximately two feet high). 


Donna Sue Davis had a severe skull fracture.  The left jaw was fractured and there were numerous abrasions on the body.  She had been sexually assaulted.  The case is still open.




DECEMBER 3, 1974





At 11:22 A.M., December 3, 1974, the bodies of three persons were found brutally murdered in the rented home at 1117 Morningside Avenue, a large two story home.  The bodies were discovered by the mother of one of the victims (Ernest Isom) who was concerned because her son had not been seen since Saturday and had not been at work.  The approximate time of death is believed to have been around midnight on Sunday night, Monday morning December 1st and 2nd. 


Freta (Bostic) Isom was found on the dining room floor, wearing only a housecoat, shot once through the back.  She was pregnant at the time.  Ernest Isom was naked lying on a mattress which was positioned on the floor of the living room.  He was shot five times in the head and body. Jesse Hanni was fully clothed when found, including a winter jacket.  It appeared he tried to get out of the room when he was shot once through the back and once behind the left ear. 


From all appearances Hanni either brought the murder(s) home with him or they followed him into the residence.  The murders appear to be execution type shootings, possibly drug related.  Each victim was shot once in the back and the men were then shot additional times.  The case remains open.


FEBRUARY 14, 1983





On February 16, 1983, the Sioux City Police Department received a report of a missing person, Maurice Kneifl (58 YOA).  The report was made by his girlfriend, Joyce Fish, and her daughter, Lori.  Maurice was reportedly last seen on February 14, 1983, driving his 1981 dark brown Fleetwood Cadillac, bearing Iowa license plate, HIZ379.  He had left his girlfriends residence around 9:30 P.M.  When he failed to show up in the morning to give her a ride to work, Joyce became concerned and began making calls.  They had been dating for several years. 


Kneifl owned and operated Fethke Cleaners located at 1209 West 26th Street.  He failed to show up for work on February 15th and all days thereafter.  An exhaustive search turned up no leads as to Kneifl’s whereabouts.  The case is still open.



OCTOBER 6, 1983




On October 1, 1983, eighteen-year-old Terri McCauley was reported missing by her mother.  She was reported last seen alive on Tuesday, September 27, 1983, at approximately 2:15 A.M., in the area of W. 7th & Omaha.  She told friends that she was going with an individual for a “date”.  The friends watched her enter a white Chevy Nova driven by a white male.  The vehicle heads north on Omaha Street and turns west unto W. 8th Street. 


At approximately 8:15 A.M., on October 6, 1983, her partially decomposed body was located in a wooded area in the vicinity of 33rd & Pavonia Street, by a local resident walking his dog.  The victim was found naked except for a pair of white ‘panties’, which were down around her ankles and white ‘tube socks’.  An immediate search of the area produced portions of clothing to include; two blue and lavender shirtsleeves and a pair a brown suede shoes.  These items were identified as the victims.


The autopsy revealed that the victim had died from a shotgun wound to the face.


A search conducted the following spring, located additional clothing items, belonging to the victim, to include a pair of blue jeans, a pink velour blouse, one white bra, and a black coat.  These items were located, partially buried; approximately fifteen feet from were the victim’s shoes had been located the previous fall.  The case remains open.



APRIL 6, 1985





At approximately 5:50 A.M., April 6, 1985, South Sioux City Police located a 1984 Chevy Cavalier, registered to a Ronald Zellmer, age 31, parked on the south end of the Veterans Memorial Bridge.  The vehicle was left unattended with the motor running.  Sioux City Police were called to check Ronald Zellmer’s residence at 1003 Pierce Street, Apartment B-3.  The apartment was found to be empty.  The officers observed nothing unusual within the apartment.  Later the following day, his mother, Lucille was asked to come to the Sioux City Police Station, where she did file a missing persons report. 


Ronald Zellmer was reported to be very depressed.  According to family members, he had been suffering from depression for several years.  A search of the Missouri river proved unsuccessful in retrieving the body of Ronald Zellmer.  The case is still open.



MARCH 25, 1986





On March 25, 1986, at approximately 9:42 A.M., Sioux City Police responded to a report of a man down under a bridge near Marx Trucking, 220 South Lewis Blvd.  Employees of the business had observed smoke coming from this area around 5:00 P.M. the previous day.  They also smelled a strange and noxious odor.  Investigators located the body of a man who had been burned beyond recognition.  They also located a gas can between the victim’s legs.


The coroner examining the body stated that it appeared to be male between the ages of 35 to 50 years of age.  A nationwide search has been unable to determine the identity of the man. The Sioux City Police did obtain dental records from the teeth of victim which have been compared to numerous missing persons across the country.  As of this date, the subject’s identity is unknown. The case remains open.



DECEMBER 8, 1991





On December 8, 1991, after 5:00 A.M., 26 year old Kevin Clark and a group of friends had just left a party which they had been attending at 1514 Villa Avenue.  Kevin got into the passenger (right) back seat of a friend’s 1981 tan and brown Chevy Citation, which was parked out front.  There were three other persons in the vehicle.  At approximately 5:19 A.M., a black male subject, 5’10”, 165 lbs., approached the vehicle, carrying a 9 millimeter rifle. The subject stated something like “M%@$*^ F*&$%^@, I finally caught up with you!” He then began firing into the vehicle.  Gunfire was returned by the victim, Kevin Clark, who had in his possession a 38 Titan Special revolver.   Kevin Clark was struck three times in the torso.  All of Clark’s shots enter into the rear door frame of the Chevy.  Miraculously, no other occupants of the vehicle were injured.


Kevin Clark was removed from the Chevy Citation, placed into another vehicle and transported to Mercy Medical Center by friends.  He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.


An investigation uncovered that the murder weapon had been stolen days prior to the shooting.  Upon uncovering the theft and apprehending the suspect in that case, he led investigators to Darren Donyal Doyle, 20 years of age, and Nathaniel Crawford, 21 years of age, who were eventually both charged with 1st degree Murder.  Over the course of the next several months, the case against Doyle and Crawford began to fall apart as witnesses changed stories and their credibility came into question.  Charges against Doyle and Crawford were official dismissed in 1992.  The case is still open.     




JANUARY 1, 1994





Beginning the evening of December 31, 1993 through the morning of January 1, 1994,  family members of 73 year old Betty Swetnam became increasingly concerned as they were not able to get in touch with her by phone.  When they contacted a neighbor, they learned that Betty’s gray car was parked in the driveway.  By 2:00 P.M., January 1, 1994, the family sent a grandson to check on her welfare.  He was accompanied by his sister’s husband.  When they arrived, they could hear the television on inside but could not get anyone to answer the door.  The grandson went around to the side door off the carport and found that that door was unlocked.  Upon entry, the grandson observed his grandmother at the bottom of the basement steps, dead.  In the mean time, Sioux City Police had been dispatched because a daughter, who lived out of town, wanted officers to check her welfare since she had not been able to reach her mother.  The police arrived as the grandson was discovering Betty dead.


The investigators observed that the house had been ransacked, with drawers dumped out of dressers.  The crime was very brutal and violent as Betty Swetnam had received numerous stab wounds, many of which were fatal.  The victim operated a massage business out of the basement of her residence.  Investigators interviewed every client named in the book as well as all relatives and associates.  Despite an exhaustive investigation no viable suspects were developed.  The investigation remains open.   






OCTOBER 9, 1996





On October 9, 1996, Marie Harker, came to the Sioux City Police Station to report her adult son, Kenneth William Harker, age 34, missing.  According to Marie, her son suffered from a head injury several years earlier, which left him disabled.  He was last seen at a friend’s house in Sioux City on October 3, 1996.


On October 5, 1996, Harker’s 1977 white Chevy Suburban was tagged as an abandoned vehicle, by Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, while parked on a gravel road (K-42) in Plymouth County.  The vehicle was towed by Plymouth County on October 8, 1996. 


A search of Kenneth Harker’s residence, 504 Colon Street, turned up no clues as to his whereabouts.  The investigation remains open.



APRIL 26, 1997





On April 26, 1997, at approximately 2:00 A.M., 27 year old David Redowl and his 24 year old sister, Sonja, had a physical altercation in the backyard of their mother’s residence at 610 West 3rd Street.  Both the victim and Sonja also listed that residence as their home.  The Sioux City Police, along with medical personnel were called at 2:07 A.M.  Upon arrival, David was found unconscious and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Mercy Medical Center.  The cause of death was determined to be a stab wound to the chest.  The victim had also sustained other stab wound to extremities.


Because of conflicting witness statements and inconsistencies, no charges were ever filed.  It remains open.




SEPTEMBER 14, 1997





An area resident returning home at approximately 5:30 A.M. on September 14, 1997 noticed 47 year old Wilbur Brown lying on the ground between the curb and the sidewalk in front of 603 West 5th Street.  He was unconscious but moaning however the neighbor was unable to wake him.  At approximately 5:34 A.M., Sioux City Police were called.  Brown was transported to the hospital and died shortly thereafter.  Autopsy revealed that he had been beaten about the head and body.  He had died as a result of those injuries.

An investigation discovered that Wilbur Brown had recently received and cashed his pay check.  No money was found on his person.  Although police interviewed numerous people no suspects were arrested.  The case remains unsolved.






Sioux City Police Department

601 Douglas St.
Sioux City, IA 51101

phone: 712-279-6440
fax: 712-279-6148

To Report a Non-Emergency Crime or Accident

Victim Advocacy Program or 
Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator
at 712-279-6398 or 
the Council's web site.


Project Lifesaver is a project
that provides a tracking system
to locate individuals who have
the tendency to wander and become lost.

Project Lifesaver International

or contact Rita Donnelly 712-279-6424