(Via KARE-11) A memorial walk will be held to remember Jodi Huisentruit this weekend, on the 20 year anniversary of the Mason City news anchor’s disappearance.
More than 100 people are expected to gather on Saturday morning at a church near the apartment where she lived, and the group will then walk more than a mile to her former TV station, a gesture to symbolize the journey she never completed.
Huisentruit was a 27 year old native of Long Prairie, Minnesota, and overslept on the morning of June 27, 1995. She told a co-worker at KIMT-TV in Mason City who called to check on her that she’d be there in time for her 6 a.m. newscast. Nobody has heard from her since.
She’s been declared legally dead and would have turned 47 this month.
The “Walk for Jodi: Finishing the Journey” walk is organized by the team behindFindJodi.com, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding leads and keeping Huisentruit’s case alive.
Josh Benson is a co-founder of the website, and began following Huisentruit’s case as a reporter in Austin, Minnesota and continues his commitment to her case as a news anchor in Tampa, Florida.
“We keep thinking about how hellish it is for the family or the family of any missing person to never know what happened to that person, that is worse than death I think,” said Benson.
Benson said the FindJodi website is a tool to bring in leads, categorize information, and make a connection that would either forward the case or discount information. He said anniversaries often bring new information or revive old tips.
Retired Woodbury police commander Jay Alberio, who worked in law enforcement 27 years, also serves on the FindJodi team, and is focusing on a new development. He hopes Mason City Police will take second look at convicted serial rapist Tony Jackson, a man Alberio once arrested for a rape case in Woodbury, and then discovered evidence that connected Jackson to several more cases. Jackson is now in prison in Rush City, Minnesota.
“You need to go back and review every report, every interview that was done, crime scene photos, evidence, that is what you got to do, take a second look or even a third look,” said Albertio. “If I was still in my career and managing investigations, I would definitely look into Tony Jackson’s background, where he was, who he was associated with.”
Alberio said Jackson lived in Mason City not far away from Huisentruit but claimed he never knew her, a claim now questioned again after an acquaintance of Jackson has now come forward. Alberio interviewed the acquaintance, who declined to be identified, but established a connection between Jackson and Huisentruit.
“This individual had actually had gone to Southbridge Lounge with Jackson and Tony had walked in and met Jodi Huisentruit, and law enforcement in Mason City had said Tony Jackson was ruled out no connection,” said Alberio. “Now are not saying the Tony Jackson is the perpetrator but he is definitely a person who needs to be looked at again.”
Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen says his department will follow up on this latest development and all credible leads, as they always have, whether it opens the door again to Jackson or anyone else.
“Anniversaries always mark a special time in the perpetrator’s mind, the police department’s mind, it’s 20 years that police department has not forgotten,” said Alberio.
Former WCCO reporter Caroline Lowe, who is also part of the team, investigated many leads in the Mason City morning anchor’s disappearance.
“Just as Jacob Wetterling defined how we raised our children, I think Jodi Huisentruit very much affected a generation of television journalists,” said Lowe.
Huisentruit’s picture still sits on her desk in a California newsroom today.
“You look at it and think, okay, what am I missing?” said Lowe.
Lowe is taking her commitment a step further, now getting her private investigator’s license to dig deeper into cold cases, and Jodi’s tops the list along with the Wetterling case.
“I think we all feel a calling to stay with this and at some point we hope to all sit down and do the final chapter in what happened to Jodi,” she said.
Most of all, those committed to Jodi want the spotlight to shine in her memory.
“I just hope, people remember,” she said.
The Walk for Jodi: Finishing the Journey will take place Saturday, June 27th at 10:00 a.m. Gather at the Riverside Friends Church across from Key Apartments at 527 North Kentucky Avenue in Mason City, IA.