Starting today, The Nonpareil is among the Iowa Newspaper Association newspapers participating in a year-long project with IowaColdCases.org to bring awareness in hopes of garnering tips to solving some of the 438 Iowa murders where the trail has gone cold.
Each day next week and every Sunday for the next 12 months, we’ll spotlight selected cases from around the state as part of a series titled: “Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s Unsolved Murders.” And, at least once a month, we’ll delve deeper into those from southwest Iowa.
Cass, Crawford, Page and Shelby counties are fortunate to have no cold cases. However, Pottawattamie County and many of the counties in our coverage area have multiple unsolved murders.
We’ll provide information for cold cases from Fremont (four), Harrison (two), Mills (two), Monona (two), Montgomery (eight, all from the infamous Villisca axe murders) and Pottawattamie (17) counties.
Though many of these cases have been open for decades – Council Bluffs’ oldest unsolved murder dates back to 1885 – there is hope.
According to the Iowa Cold Cases website, the killings of 12 Iowans have been solved in the last decade. Two of those convictions came in southwest Iowa within the past 13 months.
More than five years after Holly Durben’s death in Fremont County, her boyfriend was convicted of murder in February in her 2009 shooting death. A Council Bluffs man was convicted last summer for the 2003 stabbing death of Nelson Alvarez-Hernandez outside an apartment on the city’s south end.
Unfortunately, families of some of these murder victims may never receive justice. Some killers may escape without punishment for the heinous acts they committed.
But with no statute of limitations on murder, the intent of the series for Iowa’s newspapers is clear: We want to team up to use our reach in hopes of doing what we can to comfort the families who have lost loved ones by bringing guilty parties to justice.
Journalism’s most noble goal is the pursuit of truth, particularly when it’s been hidden or buried by those who don’t want to see the light of day shine upon the facts. That’s why this endeavor is so important to the state’s newspapers.
Any tips generated by this case will go to local law enforcement or the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation. These are real cases that could be reopened if viable leads come through to newspapers, police departments or sheriff’s offices.
With this series, Iowa’s newspaper hope to have a far-reaching impact in solving murders that have languished for far too long – and we’re asking for your help to bring long-awaited justice to these victims and their families.