For a brief time on Thursday we thought we might have received the tip that would finally lead to Jodi Huisentruit, who has been missing for almost 25 years.
Multiple Iowa and federal law enforcement agencies were investigating in a city where Jodi had once lived and worked. Our tip indicated that an excavation was underway behind a home where authorities had removed a shed, a detail similar to the graffiti message painted on our FindJodi billboard in Mason City. Amazingly, the property in question had even been purchased by its current owner on the very day Jodi disappeared: June 27, 1995.
Our team members in Minnesota, Florida and California quickly worked the phones to see if we could verify any connection to Jodi’s case.
With online rumors already linking Jodi to the events, we also called Jodi’s sister to update our progress.
Through a credible law enforcement source, we soon learned the digging was not related to Jodi. We posted the update on our site and social media feeds, and let Jodi’s family know.
We do NOT believe the Cedar Rapids investigation has any connection to Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance.
According to more recent local media reports, the multi-agency investigation may be connected to the 2014 disappearance of a 51-year-old man named James Booher, who was last seen in Cedar Rapids. Three men have since been indicted for their alleged involvement in his murder, and court proceedings in that case were set to begin as soon as next month.
Part of our mission is to help educate the public about missing persons cases in general, so we’re very interested in this development and will continue to follow it closely.
This week’s events are also an opportunity for us to provide some insight as to how the team operates, coordinates, and investigates tips and leads that might one day bring an answer in Jodi’s case.
Tips and Leads
FindJodi.com receives tips and leads from the public almost daily.
Each tip is analyzed by every member of the team and logged into a central database for later use.
One of the first determinations to be made about any incoming information is its credibility. We’re able to draw from a vast knowledge base of our past research and investigations to help assess a tip’s potential importance.
Some incoming tips we know are based on false information about Jodi’s case that might have been incorrectly reported by various media outlets, but other tips have proven to be much more useful.
Many of the leads we continue to investigate today started as tips made to FindJodi.com.
Most of the information we receive is never made public. Everything we report has to be verified as being factual, among other standards we require before posting.
Even more rarely does a tip come in involving a situation unfolding in real-time.
On Thursday afternoon, FindJodi.com co-founder Josh Benson received an anonymous phone call from a resident of Cedar Rapids about the heavy law enforcement presence in the northwest part of the city. The caller was able to inform us that multiple agencies, including the local coroner, were at the scene, and that a small shed behind the had been removed in order to excavate the frozen ground beneath. He called because he said he remembered reading about Jodi’s case on FindJodi.com.
This part of the tip piqued our interest. On New Year’s Eve, a FindJodi billboard in Mason City was vandalized. Written across the billboard in spray paint were the words “machine shed”, along with the name of a long-time Mason City Police detective who had worked the Jodi Huisentruit disappearance.
Our immediate background research conducted on the Cedar Rapids property and its owner was aimed at finding any possible connections to Jodi, or anyone else involved in the case. This process of examining public records and newspaper archives is common in most of our investigations.
As Jodi lived in Cedar Rapids briefly, public records and reports from the time needed to be cross-referenced with Jodi’s presence there, but also with anyone who had lived at the house in question over the past 25 years. Those names were further compared to all of the other names we associate with Jodi’s case, other trips we’ve received, etc.
This process revealed that the Cedar Rapids home being investigated by authorities was last purchased on the same day Jodi disappeared, but no other connections were found.
We followed up by seeking comment from Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley, who also confirmed that MCPD was not involved in the Cedar Rapids excavation.
We look forward to telling you more about events like these in our new podcast project, to be released in the coming months.
In the meantime, the FindJodi team continues its work, communicating multiple times daily via email, text, and phone investigating your tips and cultivating new information in the hopes of one day, finally, finding Jodi.
If you have any information on Jodi’s disappearance, please come forward.
Submit an Anonymous Tip to FindJodi.com here.
Submit a question or comment to FindJodi.com here.
Call the FindJodi.com tipline and leave a message at: (970) 458-JODI
You may also direct your leads directly to law enforcement at:
Mason City Police Department
Phone: (641) 421-3636
Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI)
Phone: (515) 725-6010