Episode 1 of FindJodi’s new podcast focuses on the timeline of anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit’s unsolved disappearance.
We retraced Jodi’s activities in the 24-48 hours before she was abducted in her apartment parking lot on her way to anchor the morning news at KIMT-TV in Mason City,Iowa, on June 27, 1995.
The 27-year-old Long Prairie, Minnesota, native joined the small CBS-affiliate in northern Iowa in 1993.
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By June of 1995, Jodi was actively looking to move on to a much bigger television market.
The days leading up to Jodi’s disappearance were packed with fun, summertime activities, including a waterskiing trip out of town with friends and golfing and socializing at a Mason City Chamber of Commerce charity tournament.
Jodi also took time on the Sunday before she went missing to send letters to her mom and friends and to write in her personal journal.
Searching for possible clues to what happened to Jodi, investigators looked into what she was doing, and who she came in contact with, in the days and hours immediately leading up to the moment she was abducted.
They interviewed Jodi’s friends, coworkers and fellow golfers who had been at the Chamber of Commerce tournament.
Residents of the three apartment buildings in the Key complex where Jodi lived were also questioned.
A few residents remembered what sounded like a scream about the time Jodi was abducted.
Unfortunately, no one called police and there were no eyewitness to one of Iowa’s most enduring unsolved crimes.
Our investigation found that being a popular anchor on KIMT-TV would have made Jodi an easy target for anyone to track.
Someone didn’t have to know Jodi personally to know a lot about her. She had a regular work schedule, anchoring the news at 6 a.m. and noon. She was also very active in the small Mason City community, frequently representing KIMT-TV at city events. Jodi’s home address and phone number were even listed in the local directory.
Our FindJodi team compiled the following timeline after interviewing people who were close personally and professionally to Jodi, reviewing extensive news media coverage of the investigation, obtaining some police reports and interviewing investigators, over the years.
We also talked with many residents who lived at Jodi’s apartment complex and with people who were with Jodi at the Chamber of Commerce golf tournament just hours before she was abducted.
Monday, June 26, 1995
6:00-7:00 a.m. Jodi anchored the Daybreak morning newscast at KIMT-TV.
(She returned home the day before from a waterskiing trip to Iowa City with several friends, including John Vansice, Tammy Baker and Ani Kruse.)
9:00 a.m. Jodi, who was an accomplished golfer, represented KIMT-TV at the annual Mason City Chamber of Commerce golf tournament.
Jodi’s golf team, which included two station clients and a KIMT-TV sales associate, played briefly at the Highland Park golf course, which handled the overflow crowd, until they were rained out.
The group socialized at the clubhouse before Jodi went home mid-afternoon to change clothes to wear to the awards dinner that night at the Mason City Country Club.
3:30 p.m. Jodi rejoined her team at the country club, where about 200 people were attendance.
She socialized and had dinner. Two of Jodi’s golf partners said she mentioned she’d been getting annoying phone calls and planned to change her home number the next day.8:00 p.m. Jodi said goodbye to her team and to her news director, Doug Merbach, and headed home.
8:24 p.m. Jodi called her friend Kelly Torguson in Mississippi. Jodi talked briefly with Kelly’s husband since she was not home. The husband said Jodi sounded cheerful and not worried.
It is not clear where Jodi was for the next several hours on that Monday night and early Tuesday a.m.
8:30-9:00 p.m. MCPD Police Chief Jack Schlieper told the Mason City Globe Gazette newspaper Jodi had been visiting with a friend between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., but the chief did not reveal the friend’s name. (July 1, 1995 Globe Gazette.)
John Vansice, a much older friend of Jodi’s, told police and the media that Jodi stopped by his home that Monday evening to watch a videotape of a surprise 27th birthday party he hosted for her on June 10 at Sully’s bar in Clear Lake. The bar was in a building owned by Aldin Stecker, a friend of Vansice’s. Stecker’s wife recorded video of the party.
Tuesday, June 27, 1995
3:00 a.m. – Jodi normally arrived at this time at the KIMT-TV studio to anchor the 6:00 a.m. Daybreak newscast.
4:00 a.m. When Jodi had not shown up for work, and with two hours to go to air time, producer Amy Kuns called Jodi and apparently woke her up. The producer said everything sounded okay, and Jodi told her she would head right in to work, about a 5-minute drive from her Key apartment.
4:10-4:30 a.m. Due to anchor the Daybreak newscast in about 90 minutes, Jodi rushed out of her second story apartment in building C, down the stairs and to her car parked just 12 steps away.
In those brief seconds, a perpetrator managed to attack Jodi from behind as she was putting a key into the door of her new red Mazda Miata and then take off with Jodi, apparently in another vehicle, in the dark parking lot.
And no one saw anything.
5:00-5:30 a.m. Amy Kuns said she tried calling Jodi again, but Jodi didn’t answer. Kuns continued to write and produce the Daybreak show by herself.
6:00 a.m. Amy Kuns anchored the hour-long newscast, since Jodi never showed up for work.
7:00 a.m. After the news was done, Amy Kuns asked a coworker to call police to check on Jodi.
7:13 a.m. Mason City police got a call from a KIMT-TV employee, requesting a welfare check on Jodi at the Key apartment complex (view a copy of the incident report obtained by FindJodi).
By now, Jodi’s abductor had three hours to escape with Jodi before anyone was looking for her or him.
7:16 a.m. The first MCPD officer, Jerry Miller, arrived on the scene. It was clear immediately a crime had occurred in the parking lot of the Key apartments.
Jodi’s car was still there, just steps from Jodi’s building. There were signs of a struggle, including drag marks on the pavement. A mirror was pushed back, a bent car key was on the ground nearby and Jodi’s red high heels, blow dryer, hair spray and earrings were scattered by her car. A partial palm print was found on the vehicle.
Nothing looked out of place when police checked Jodi’s second floor apartment, although investigators had questions about why the toilet seat was up.
Some neighbors told investigators they heard a scream around 4:30 a.m., but no one called police.
John Vansice showed up at the crime scene that a.m. He told investigators Jodi stopped by his home the night before to watch a videotape of a surprise 27th birthday party he’d hosted for her earlier in the month. Jodi had also just spent the previous weekend with Vansice, and some other friends, waterskiing in Iowa City.
A man who lived up the street from the Key apartment, Randy Linderman , claimed he saw a white Econoline van in the parking lot as he drove to work about that time. The van has never been found.
7:33 a.m. Twenty minutes after KIMT’s request for a welfare check on Jodi, Mason City Police Chief Jack Schlieper was dispatched to the scene. It was not a surprise he showed up, given the high-profile of the person who was disappeared.
12:30 p.m. The MCPD first publicly reported Jodi Huisentruit as missing. This was at least 8 hours after she was abducted.
1:00 p.m. KIMT-TV evening anchor Brian Mastre came in early to break into programming to report his colleague Jodi Huisentruit was missing.
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Mason City Police Department
Phone: (641) 421-3636
Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI)
Phone: (515) 725-6010