It’s been 26 years since 27-year-old Jodi Huisentruit disappeared without a trace, on her way to anchor the morning news at KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa.
For 26 years, Jodi’s family and friends have been left with no answers or accountability for her abduction in the parking lot a few feet from her Key apartment building.
On this sad anniversary, our FindJodi team remains committed to keeping Jodi’s case from fading from the public eye, and we will continue our search for what happened to the promising young news anchor from Long Prairie, MN.
Among our efforts to help solve the case, we are putting up a new billboard in Mason City, with a new message and photo of Jodi. We have also just finished our 19th FindJodi podcast.
As part of our mission to help produce the most accurate public record possible regarding the Huisentruit investigation, we have compiled a list of 26 facts about the unsolved mystery.
#1 Jodi apparently had overslept on the morning of June 27, 1995. She was supposed to be at KIMT-TV about 3 a.m.to begin her anchor shift. Jodi had spent the day before at the Mason City Chamber of Commerce golf tournament and dinner. She left the Mason City Country Club shortly before 8 p.m. and called a friend in Mississippi at 8:24 p.m.
#2 When Jodi failed to show up for work, KIMT-TV assistant producer Amy Kuns awakened Jodi with a phone call about 4:10 a.m. Amy said Jodi assured her she’d be right into work to anchor the 6 a.m. newscast in the studio, located about a mile away. Amy later said nothing sounded out of the ordinary when she talked with Jodi.
#3 Amy said Jodi had occasionally been late previously, and nothing sounded out of the ordinary during their brief chat on Jodi’s landline.
#4 Jodi was apparently abducted about 20 minutes later, next to her car, parked just 12 feet from the entrance of her apartment building.
#5 During the struggle with her abductor, the key to Jodi’s red 1991 Mazda Miata was slightly bent, her red heels, blow dryer, earrings and hair spray were found scattered on the ground nearby.
# 6 There were no eyewitnesses. Nobody from the apartment complex called police.
#7 Some apartment residents later told police they heard a scream around the time Jodi was abducted.
#8 At 6 a.m., when Jodi had not shown up for work, Amy Kuns anchored the hour-long newscast in Jodi’s place. Amy had to write and produce the newscast by herself.
#9 Around 7 a.m., just after the newscast ended, Amy asked a coworker to call police to check on Jodi. Although Jodi had been late before, she’d never missed a newscast.
#10 At 7:13 a.m, the KIMT-TV coworker called police.
#11 At 7:16 a.m, the first MCPD officer arrived at Jodi’s apartment complex. There were no signs of Jodi when the officer checked her second-floor apartment. But the officer saw clear signs of a struggle next to Jodi’s car, still parked in the lot below Jodi’s apartment.
#12 The MCPD chief at the time, and several other officers, soon after arrived at the Key apartment complex.
#13 Very little forensic evidence was found at the crime scene. A partial palm print was obtained from Jodi’s car and a strand of hair was also discovered, according to retired MCPD investigator Frank Stearns, in a television interview. Stearns refused to say if a root was attached to the hair. It’s not known if the evidence found is related to Jodi’s disappearance. A witness also approached police stating that he’d seen a white van near Jodi’s car around the time she disappeared.
#14 Jodi’s friend John Vansice, and two other men, arrived at the Key apartments mid-morning while police were on the scene. Police say Vansice told them he was the last person to see Jodi alive and that she had stopped by his Mason City duplex the night before to watch a video of a surprise 27thy birthday party he helped throw for Jodi on June 10th. The party was held at Sully’s bar in a building in Clear Lake, MN. The building was owned by a friend of Jodi’s and Vansice, businessman Aldin Stecker. Stecker’s former wife shot the video. Sources say the video was given to Vansice the day before Jodi disappeared.
#15 Police told Vansice to bring the video to the MCPD station. That’s where he was interviewed by investigators.
#16 Jodi spent the weekend before she disappeared, June 23-25th, on a waterskiing trip to Iowa City with Vansice, her good friends Ani Kruse and Tammy Baker, and Vansice’s son Trent, who was a college student in Iowa City at the time. The group stayed at Trent’s apartment. Tammy shared a bedroom with Jodi. She and Jodi met several years earlier when both were working as reporters in Iowa City.
The previous weekend, June 17-18th, Tammy stayed with Jodi at her Mason City apartment. Tammy says they spent time with John Vansice and other friends in Clear Lake that weekend, boating and dancing.
#17 Jodi’s last entry in her personal journal was dated the pervious Sunday, June 25th. Jodi wrote about how much fun she’d had waterskiing on Vansice’s boat that weekend. Vansice named the boat after Jodi, although her name was never actually painted on the boat. Vansice, who was 22 years older than Jodi, later told the media he took a polygraph and passed with “flying colors.” Vansice has repeatedly denied any involvement in Jodi’s abduction and has never been arrested or charged in connection with Jodi’s disappearance.
# 18 A copy of Jodi’s 84-page personal journal was mailed anonymously in 2008 to a reporter at the Globe Gazette in Mason City. A police investigation revealed it was sent by the wife of former MCPD Chief David Ellingson. Cheryl Ellingson previously worked for the newspaper, but no motive was ever given for whey she sent the journal to her former employer.
#19 Two federal grand juries have reportedly been convened in connection with Jodi’s case. No indictments were handed down by either grand jury. A friend of Vansice, LaDonna Woodford, said she testified Vansice was home when she called him about 6 a.m. on June 27, 1995, and they went for walk in the neighborhood . In March of 2017, Vansice was subpoenaed by a federal grand in Cedar Rapids, IA. He drove from his home in Phoenix, AZ, to provide a DNA sample, fingerprints, and palm prints. No charges came as a result of that grand jury.
#21 Also in March of 2017, the MCPD obtained a search warrant from a Cerro Gordo County judge to place GPS tracking devices on two vehicles connected to Vansice. Vansice had not owned these vehicles in 1995. Police Chief Jeff Brinkley told “48 Hours” correspondent Jim Axelrod the GPS searches did did not produce any evidence. The search warrant affidavits for the searches have remained sealed, so it’s unknown what probable cause investigators provided the judge to convince him to approve the searches.
#22 Jodi reported to the MCPD she’d been made uncomfortable by a person in a small, newer white truck on a Saturday evening in October 1994. (The truck has been erroneously described sometimes by some police investigators and officials as a black truck.) The truck and the driver have never been identified. Beside the 1994 incident, Jodi also told some friends and a self defense instructor in the months before her abduction about concerns that she might have been followed. Despite those incidents, police have been publicly skeptical about the possibility a stalker may have abducted Jodi.
#23 Jodi would have been easy to stalk. Her home address, apartment unit and phone number were listed in the public Mason City phone directory. She also had the same work schedule every day and frequently talked about her social and community event plans when she was delivering the news.
#24 A convicted serial rapist in Minnesota, Tony Jackson, was living just 2 blocks from KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa at the time Jodi disappeared. Another serial rapist in Minnesota, Tom Corscadden, was also in the general area. Both men are locked up in Minnesota facilities, and both were interviewed by Mason City investigators. Both men denied any involvement in Jodi’s disappearance, and were ruled out by police.
#25 A FindJodi billboard in Mason City meant to help generate leads in the case was vandalized on New Years Eve 2019. The name of a retired investigator and the words “machine shed” were spray-painted on the board. After a 4-day investigation, the vandalism case was closed with no answers to who defaced the billboard, or why.
#26 Twenty-six years since Jodi was abducted, Iowa’s highest-profile unsolved case remains a mystery. Jodi is still missing, no one has been charged with abducting her and her family and loved ones mark another year with no Jodi, no answers.