Last week, when I scanned my calendar to plan for my professional speaking obligations this week, I thought it looked like a piece of cake. You see, I didn’t have to board a plane or hop into a car to travel any great distance, and I was looking forward to taking it easy!
How quickly things change! It’s been a surprising and shocking couple of days, starting with a Monday morning phone call from my FindJodi colleague Gary Peterson. He told me Iowa’s Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty had announced a scheduled 1 p.m. news conference concerning an update in the 1983 Copper Dollar Ranch double homicide. I knew the announcement meant something big was brewing, but I needed details. Because I live in Minneapolis, getting to Newton, Iowa in time for the press conference was out of the question. So, I reverted to my old reporter ways, and got on the phone.
Had we not done previous groundwork with the people in question, we would know very little and have little to go on. Relationships matter and connections matter – Gary and I agree on that. Not surprisingly, I was unsuccessful in reaching Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty myself. Even though Halferty and I have had personal conversations in the past about Terri Supino and the cold case, I would have been shocked had he actually agreed to tell me anything in advance of the public announcement. But I tried with a direct call to both his and his deputy’s offices.
Next, I have to confess I sent a text message to Terri Supino herself, not knowing it was she who had just been taken into custody. (In case you’re wondering, I got no response.) Terri, as the estranged wife of then-20 year old Steven Fisher, was always a person of interest in connection with the deaths of Fisher and his girlfriend, Melisa Gregory. As such, I worked to create a connection with Terri, and she and I occasionally talked and texted since the publication of my book Dead Air. (On my smartphone, I have a picture of her posing with us when Gary and I visited with her in her home in August, 2012.)
My third call was to Hal Snedecker, the former owner of the Copper Dollar Ranch property. Bingo! He confirmed to me that Terri had indeed been arrested and charged with two first degree murder charges. Though he and I may disagree on some of the specifics, the man is nothing if not direct, and we will be talking more very soon.
Last week, I got a call from a producer at TNT’s Cold Justice. She informed me that her crews were taping in Newton, Iowa recently, and she asked for permission to use a photo of Supino that we had obtained from the family. We don’t know yet if the L.A. recording crew shook some secrets out of the branches of the Newton tree, or if they somehow shocked somebody into giving up some information heretofore unrevealed.
However it happened, though, the arrest helps to clear the air in Newton, where these long-ago murders cast a long shadow. Townspeople have long wondered if there was a murderer in their midst. And, though it doesn’t ever bring back their loved ones, I am grateful the Fisher and Gregory families will get well-deserved closure with this arrest. It came exactly thirty one years later. March 3, 1983 until March 3, 2014 – that’s a long time to wait for justice.
Today, Gary and I have been fielding phone calls and media inquiries. News of the arrest in this 31-year-old cold case has been reverberating all over the country. Now that authorities believe they have the answers to this brutal 1983 murder case, I am hoping the impetus provided by this week’s arrest will somehow serve to shed more light on another long-unsolved Iowa mystery: that of Jodi Huisentruit.
Hey, they just solved a 31-year-old case. Let’s solve the nearly 19-year-old case next!