A former Mason City, Iowa, woman claims she was chased by a man she saw standing next to the Key Apartments building where Jodi Huisentruit lived, barely a month before the news anchor was abducted in the apartment’s parking lot.
Although the incident has never been revealed publicly before, the woman told FindJodi.com that Mason City Police have known about it since the day it happened when her mother called them more than 28 years ago.
FindJodi.com just recently learned about the case after the woman reached out to us, after listening to a popular true crime podcast.
With Jodi’s case still unsolved, and the fact the man who chased her has not been not identified, the woman requested anonymity.
She said she was 14-years-old on May 25, 1995, when she was running home from middle school in the afternoon. That was just over a month before Jodi’s abduction on June 27.
As she ran by Building C at the Key Apartments, the woman claimed a man called out and then took off after her.
“I was running home from John Adams Middle School one day towards the end of my 8th grade year of school, and turned to run down Kentucky Avenue. After running down Kentucky a bit, I turned left to run down the path on the north side of the river that runs through East Park.
“I went a bit down the path and heard a guy yell “hey!” at me. I stopped running and looked to my right to see a man through a bit of trees leaning up against a building.
“He yelled at me again and then started running right towards me. I turned around and ran up a hill back up to Kentucky. I kept running to the next corner where you can turn left to go to the pool.
“My friend lived in the house near the corner. I ran up to their back door. It was unlocked, and I ran inside. The guy had stopped chasing me once I got up to Kentucky, but I stayed inside and was looking out of the windows and eventually saw him walk past.
Just over a month later, Jodi Huisentruit was abducted from the parking lot in front of the same building where the woman claims she saw the man, whom she said was never identified.
“The man who chased me had dark shaggy-ish hair… he was probably about 25-30 and white. I remember the guy being fairly short and wearing jean shorts. He had dark hair and was tan,” said the woman, who’s now in her 40’s.
Although there is no evidence the two incidents were connected, and it may be just an eerie coincidence, June 27 is a day she can’t forget, coming so soon after her own frightening encounter with the stranger whom she said chased her.
“That summer going into 9th grade I was starting cheerleading camp where a bunch of girls get together to start the workouts, but it was not really run by the coaches. I would rollerblade to the workouts and back. That first day I remember another girl saying that Jodi Huisentruit was missing. I didn’t really think much of but I totally knew who she was.
“As I was rollerblading home that day, I took Kentucky [Avenue] again and as I got close to where I had been chased, I saw all the cars and some yellow tape at the Key Apartments (I believe that’s what they were called.) When I got home and was watching the news it was becoming clear that police thought there was foul play, and I realized that Jodi had lived at the Key Apartments.”
To follow up on the the woman’s story, FindJodi.com made an Iowa Open Records Law request for a copy of a police report from the Mason City Police Department.
They provided us with a report made the day of the incident. It included very little information, but did confirm the teen’s mother’s name and the date and time the report was made. In the one-line narrative, the incident report said only that the caller wanted to speak with an officer and did not reveal any details.
When we asked for additional information from the Mason City Police Department, Chief Jeff Brinkley rejected our request, citing Iowa law.
Under Iowa Code, police investigative files, even closed ones, are not available to the public. (Note: That is not the blanket policy for closed investigative cases in some other states, including Minnesota. That’s where more than 40,000 pages of documents in the Jacob Wetterling abduction and murder investigation were released publicly when that high-profile case was finally resolved.)
“By law, we provide the date, time, location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding calls for service. The remainder of the record is confidential – incident reports, video recordings, and work that is done as part of the investigative record – whether the matter is open or closed, “ Chief Brinkley said in an email.
Also at our request, the woman drew a red circle on a photo of the spot at Building C where she said she first saw the man who chased her. It’s in the back of the building where Jodi lived alone in a second-floor apartment. Her apartment faced the parking lot in front of the building, where she was abducted on her way to anchor the morning news at KIMT-TV.
The building is one of three in the 73-unit complex located on the edge of the Winnebago River, by a campground and just north of the city’s largest park.
The woman, who has since moved away from Mason City, said she also reached out in 2016 to the lead Mason City Police Department investigator assigned to Jodi’s case.
“I reached out in 2016 because I just wasn’t sure that the police even knew about it. I had recently heard about [Jodi’s] case again and there was a push to encourage people to give tips. My husband and some friends knew about the incident and encouraged me to make sure the police knew, “ the woman told FindJodi.com.
More recently, she reached out to FindJodi.com, after hearing Jodi’s case being discussed on the popular Crime Junkie podcast.
She was curious if one of the former persons of interest mentioned on the podcast might be the guy who chased her. After finding a photo of him online, she said it was not the same guy.
Twenty-eight years later, she’s grateful nothing worse happened to her growing up.
“My main takeaway all these years later is just that I’m thankful to have made it through high school and a few years at NIACC (North Iowa Area Community College) safely. In hearing about some of the suspects in Jodi’s case, and some of the crimes in Iowa since then, I realized how naïve I was. I used to go out running past NIACC, in East Park, and on River Road and North Carolina road, Lime Creek, etc. I was always alone, no one knew where I was running usually. It would have been pretty easy for anyone with bad intentions to have acted on them,” she said.
She hopes someone will come forward to help finally solve Jodi’s case.
We appreciate this woman sharing her story with FindJodi.com and following up with police when they they appealed for possible tips on Jodi’s case.
If anyone else knows of similar chase incidents in Mason City in 1995, we’d also like to hear from you. You can contact us.
It’s time to bring Jodi home.
Anyone with information about Jodi’s case can reach out to the Mason City Police Department at (641) 421-3636.
Information can also be provided to Iowa DCI Special Agent Ryan Herman: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also contact us at FindJodi.com.