One of the key, and most mystifying, new pieces of information revealed in the recent statement from John Vansice, a person of interest in Jodi Huisentruit’s 1995 abduction, is the fact he was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on March 2, 2017.
That subpoena ordered Vansice to provide sets of his finger and palm prints although he said he’d already done that in the earlier stages of the investigation into the Mason City anchorwoman’s disappearance.
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When Vansice showed up in federal court in 2017, he did not testify, but was ordered to provide a DNA swab, in addition to the prints.
Because federal grand jury proceedings by law are secret, and the Iowa grand jurors did not decide to indict Vansice in connection with Jodi’s abduction, very little is known about what legal basis prosecutors had to subpoena him. Under federal court rules, at least 12 of a minimum of 16 grand jurors must approve an indictment for someone to be charged with a crime.
With no charges filed against Vansice or anyone else, a lot of questions remain about the 2017 federal grand jury’s activities. A key question, according to a number of veteran prosecutors and police investigators consulted by FindJodi.com, is:
What federal crime did the U.S. Attorney’s Office allege was involved in Jodi’s disappearance?
Typically in a federal kidnapping and murder case, there is evidence a victim was transported across state lines. With Jodi’s body still missing, we are not aware of any evidence she was ever taken out of Iowa.
Another question posed by prosecutors and investigators we consulted is:
Why did Mason City investigators get a search warrant to obtain GPS data on two of Vansice’s vehicles just 18 days after he appeared in federal court?
Those GPS searches didn’t turn up anything, according to an interview Police Chief Jeff Brinkley gave to CBS-TV’s ”48 Hours” show last December.
Chief Brinkley: “That piece didn’t pan out like we hoped.”
48 Hours correspondent Jim Axelrod: “No one was coming back from out of state to check out a potential body site?”
Chief Brinkley: “We didn’t get any information that was useful.”
Like the basis of a federal grand jury proceeding, it’s a secret what probable cause Mason City Police had to obtain the warrant for the GPS data. The warrant was ordered sealed by an Iowa judge, at least until September 2019.
With all of the secrecy surrounding developments in the Huisentruit investigation, many additional questions remain unanswered, including:
Did Mason City’s search warrant for GPS data happen at the same time the federal grand jury was meeting, or after the grand jury had concluded with no indictment?
Why did federal prosecutors subpoena Vansice to provide his prints and DNA in Cedar Rapids when there’s an FBI office he could have gone to in Phoenix, where he lives? Was there a reason they wanted Vansice to return to Iowa?
How many different federal grand juries have considered evidence in the Huisentruit investigation in the almost 24 years since she vanished on her way to anchor the KIMT-TV morning news?
A friend of Vansice said she was questioned for five hours before another federal grand jury more that 22 years ago, also in Cedar Rapids.
That friend, Ladonna Woodford, provided a partial alibi for Vansice the morning Jodi vanished on June 27, 1995. Woodford told FindJodi.com she testified under oath that Vansice was at his Mason City home when she called him at 6 a.m. on his landline phone to confirm their regular morning walk. That was about 90 minutes after someone abducted Jodi as she was getting into her car outside her apartment building.
Woodford also said Vansice didn’t seem anxious when they went out on their walk about 7 a.m.
As was the case in 2017, the federal grand jury 22 years ago returned no indictment against Vansice.
Vansice and Jodi frequently socialized in the weeks before she disappeared, including getting together with a group of friends on a couple of waterskiing trips. Vansice told police Jodi stopped by his duplex the night before she was abducted to watch a video of a surprise birthday party he’d hosted for her earlier that month.
As FindJodi.com first reported exclusively two weeks ago, Vansice strongly denies he had anything to do with Jodi’s unsolved abduction.
For more on the rules surrounding federal grand juries, read more here.
If you have any information on Jodi’s disappearance, please come forward.
Mason City Police Department
Phone: (641) 421-3636
Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI)
Phone: (515) 725-6010