(Via Daily Mail)
- Police believe Jodi Huisentruit was abducted from the parking lot of her apartment building around 4am on June 27, 1995
- The 27-year-old news anchor at Mason City, Iowa station KIMT had overslept and told a co-worker she would rush to get to work for her 6am broadcast
- She was never heard from again
- A retired police officer and journalist that continue to look into the mystery believe a serial rapist might be a person of interest in the case
- Tony Dejuan Jackson was 21 at the time of Huisentruit’s disappearance, and living just two blocks from the KIMT news station
- He is currently serving a life sentence for raping three women in 1997
As the 20-year anniversary of the disappearance of a young news anchor approaches, two witnesses are coming forward with testimonies that might finally help solve the mystery.
Jodi Huisentruit had overslept for her job as an anchor at Mason City, Iowa news station KIMT on June 27, 1995, when a co-worker called to check up on her.
The 27-year-old assured her colleague that she would rush into the station in time for her 6am broadcast.
She was never heard from again.
While Mason City Police continue to receive one to three tips about the case a month, Huisentruit’s disappearance has remained unsolved.
However, a journalist and retired police officer are putting forth a new theory about the Huisentruit mystery which is only strengthened by the memories of two potential witnesses.
WCCO-TV reporter Caroline Lowe and retired Woodbury Police Cmdr Jay Alberio want serial rapist Tony Dejuan Jackson investigated as a person of interest in Huisentruit’s abduction, since he has a pattern of violence towards women and was living just two blocks from KIMT at the time.
Jackson, who was then 21, is currently serving a life sentence at a prison in Rush City, Minnesota, for raping three women in 1997 and denies the claims, saying he never met Huisentruit or seen her in public.
But a former friend is now coming forward to fact check Jackson’s story.
The source, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Minneapolis news station KMSP that just before Huisentruit’s abduction, he became friends with Jackson since their girlfriends at the time were close.
He says that after playing basketball one day, Jackson asked him out to happy hour drinks, to a bar where he knew Huisentruit was a regular.
‘I always wondered, how would he even know that?’ the source said.
But the man went along for drinks anyway, walking a few blocks to a bar called the South Bridge Lounge, which has now gone out of business.
Entering through the back door, the source says they walked in and saw Huisentruit sitting at the bar.
Jackson allegedly walked right up to Huisentruit and started chatting her up, though the former friend says he was out of earshot to hear the conversation.
While living in Mason City, Jackson attended North Iowa Community College, where he developed an interest in broadcasting while hosting his own student talk show.
His friend figured that he was just trying to get career advice from Huisentruit, and didn’t think too much about why he wanted to seek her out that night.
Looking back though, he thinks that Jackson’s interest may have been a sign.
‘My gut tells me that he probably did it, after all the stuff he’s done since,’ the source said.
Assistant producer Amy Kuns was the co-worker who called Huisentruit the day she slept in for work. She says she called her a few times after that first call, but never got through to Huisentruit again. Instead she had to go on air herself, in Huisentruit’s place.
‘My first gut reaction was just to be mad,’ Kuns told the Pioneer Press. ‘I’m like, ‘Where the hell is she?’ … I thought she had just gone back to sleep and wasn’t answering her phone. Never in a million years did I envision abduction.’
Police believe Huisentruit was abducted in the parking lot of her apartment complex, as she was rushing to get to work on time, since they found the pavement littered with her red high heels, a blow dryer, hair spray and earrings.
Neighbors also reported hearing a woman’s scream shortly after 4am and a white van in the parking lot.
A partial palm print was smudged onto Huisentruit’s car, but investigators were never able to match it with a suspect.
Another witness though is adding details to the events of that morning.
The second witness, who also wishes to remain unidentified, says she used to run past Huisentruit’s apartment complex every morning around 4:30am. That morning, she says she was almost hit by a car zooming out of the complex’s parking lot.
‘I’m coming up to the apartments and a car comes out really fast, and it nearly hits me and then I have to jump onto the sidewalk and its headlights were off as it was speeding out,’ she said.
And just the day before – at the same time and place – she says a young African American man, perhaps in his teens, was riding a bike outside the complex. He then started biking right beside her as she ran, which she thought was weird for the time of morning.
Mason City police say that no link has ever been found between Jackson and Huisentruit.
Lowe and Alberio say they aren’t certain Jackson is the man behind the Huisentruit mystery, but they at least want investigators to look into him as a possible suspect, considering his criminal track record.
‘We don’t know if he is involved,’ Lowe said. ‘We, to this day, don’t know, but if you think of a person living that close who is capable of very violent stuff, he had to be investigated.’
However, there’s hope that the upcoming anniversary will spark new leads in the case.
‘We expect that with the 20th anniversary, we will get more,’ Mason City Police Lt Rich Jensen said. ‘It’s like any anniversary – it stirs people’s emotions. We’re waiting for the call. We’re hoping that there will be a day we’re in the courtroom, and somebody will be held accountable.’