On June 27, 2013, eighteen years will have passed since Jodi Huisentruit disappeared in Mason City, Iowa. Yet the FindJodi effort and website has not diminished. In fact, it’s growing. We are a far-flung bunch living all over the United States, yet all united in one cause – to keep the Jodi Huisentruit case alive.
Why can’t we let this story go? Why is this particular cold case important, especially after all these years? Each one of us, working as investigators and contributors to the website, has our own personal reasons for why we continue the work. Money is not the motivator. None of us makes a dime for our time on this case, and some of us have spent much of our own money for travel and other expenses incurred with the work.
Nor is a personal connection with the victim the motivator. Not one of us on this team knew Jodi Huisentruit well, if at all, when she was alive. Through our professional community, I personally met with Jodi face-to-face only once or twice.
This case impacted each of us differently, but deeply. I have written and spoken of it before. We all know the feeling: Often, when we are emotionally distraught, the angst can manifest itself as real physical pain. When Jodi disappeared, I felt that pain on a gut level – like someone had kicked me. I wasn’t the only one. Our team, most of us past and present television colleagues, has felt it on many levels. When Jodi disappeared, it created real distress.
But there are other – larger – reasons for all of us to keep this case alive, and to keep it in the public eye. Four primary reasons come to mind:
- The perpetrator of this crime is still unidentified. Most of us recoil at the idea of a person who has literally gotten away with murder. We all rest a little easier when we feel justice has been served.
- Real safety lessons can be learned from what happened to Jodi. In many of my book appearances, I’ve had several readers tell me they have urged their teenaged and older children to read Dead Air. Jodi’s story is a cautionary tale in a lot of ways, especially for young women. In sharing her perspective, my former television colleague Erin Connors said, “[That day] I became much more aware of my surroundings, and still am to this day. I am careful to watch where I go alone … and I will never look at a white van the same way.”
- Solving this crime may serve to shed some light on one or more other unsolved crimes in Iowa. This is not just fanciful thinking on my part. In my book, I explore some other puzzling unsolved cases that just may have had some connection to what happened to Jodi. And, as Caroline Lowe recently wrote, the potential of publicity to help solve other crimes is enormous. That’s why it’s important to keep Jodi’s case in the spotlight.
- Jodi’s family and friends, like those involved in other missing persons’ cases, deserve some answers and some closure.
I am gratified that this growing and updated website (thanks to the technical and graphic genius of Josh Benson) is generating a lot of new interest among the larger community. I am thankful for Gary Peterson’s incredible forensic mind, for Caroline Lowe’s historical perspective as a reporter chasing the story, and for those who share their legal, law enforcement, and research expertise.
I am grateful, too, that Dead Air has served to draw wider attention to this cold case. We’ve all had some great conversations that get our minds working in a thousand different directions again. But it’s people like you, visitors to the FindJodi.com website, who bring crucial new information to the forefront.
Interestingly enough, some of our followers are people who are too young to really even remember when Jodi disappeared. They, too, recognize the importance of finding answers to this story, a story that fits the old adage that “truth is stranger than fiction.” I am often approached at book events by college students and other young people, particularly those who are interested in pursuing a job in the public eye. When I spoke to a group of college criminology students recently, they got so excited asking questions and expounding on theories, they were ready to book a bus and go on a field trip down to Iowa!
Eighteen years later – it’s not too late. It’s still important. Help us keeps this case alive. This year promises to be the year we dedicate the most resources to the case we ever have.
Help us find out what happened to Jodi Huisentruit.