Our most recent post, revealing Mason City police executed a search warrant, one year ago today, seeking GPS data for two vehicles connected to John Vansice, struck a big chord.
We were not surprised.
Vansice was a friend of Jodi’s who claimed to be the last person to see her alive. He was interviewed by police early on in the investigation, denied he had anything to do with her disappearance and told reporters back in 1995 that he passed a lie detector test.
Local, regional and even some national media contacted us for follow-up stories, seeking more information and trying to assess the importance of this newly revealed development. (The warrant was executed exactly one year ago. Its contents were sealed for six months and resealed until October 2018. We expect it will most likely remain secret until someone is charged in connection with Jodi’s case.)
We also heard from many followers of FindJodi.com with theories, information and a lot of questions.
One of the key questions: just how significant is the 2017 search warrant at this point if the 23-year-old investigation?
Some veteran and retired investigators we consulted told us they felt the warrant was very significant, even not knowing any of the details of the MCPD’s probable cause that convinced a judge to approve the warrant. To these outside investigators, it indicated Mason City police had received some recent, credible information that prompted them to pursue the GPS data search.
But other investigators caution that multiple persons of interest can be the subject of search warrants and sometimes turn out to not be connected at all to the crime.
A recent high-profile example is Jacob Wetterling’s case in St. Joseph, MN. The 11-year-old boy was kidnapped and murdered in 1989 in St. Joseph, MN. For years, police focused on a Wetterling neighbor as a person interest. They conducted searches on his family’s property, looking for Jacob’s body and evidence of the crime. The neighbor was cleared only after forensics and additional investigation led to another suspect, Danny Heinrich, in 2015. Heinrich eventually confessed and led investigators to Jacob’s remains, buried on a farm in Stearns County,MN, as part of a plea deal on federal porn charges. Jacob was found just seven months before before the Vansice search warrant.
As we reported in our previous post, Mason City Police Chief Brinkley told us he has no public comment on the contents of the warrant or the person named in it. In an interview with FindJodi two months after the search, the chief made no mention of a search as he provided an update on the case.
Chief Brinkley says his department continues to actively investigate Jodi’s case and asked for anyone with information about her disappearance to contact the the department at (641) 421-3636. Lt. Rich Jensen is the supervisor of the criminal investigations division.