The following is an update on Jodi’s case from Dateline’s Cold Case Spotlight.
Nineteen years ago, while on the way to her morning shift at a local Mason City, Iowa television station, anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit disappeared.
When she went missing, Minnesota native Jodi was twenty-seven, with a bright future ahead of her. She was a prominent journalist in the Mason City area and had landed a job anchoring a morning news show. On the morning she vanished, police found her belongings scattered across the parking lot of her apartment complex. She never made it in to work that day.
After years of searching for clues that could help police piece together what happened that morning, Jodi, who would have turned forty-six last June, was declared legally dead in 2001. Her family has never held a funeral, instead opting to host Jodi’s Network of Hope, an annual golf tournament held in her hometown of Long Prairie, Minnesota, where Jodi was once a state championship golfer.
Although the case went cold years ago, recent developments and renewed public interest have reinvigorated search efforts. As local NBC affiliate KARE reported in June 2013, a group of law enforcement officials and journalists came together to found a website where they are able to compile all of the publically available information in one central location. FindJodi.com was the brainchild of veteran journalist and state certified death scene investigator, Gary Peterson, as well as Miami morning TV anchor, Josh Benson. When he spoke to KARE, Peterson was optimistic about the progress they’ve been able to make with regard to the investigation: “We have been all over the state of Iowa following up leads and I think that we are very close.”
Jay Alberio, a retired Woodbury Police Commander joined the group in 2013 after he left the police force. He first became interested in the case in the late 1990s when he arrested Tony Jackson, a serial rapist who was in the Mason City area around the same time Jodi went missing. Although Jackson has never officially been named a person of interest in Jodi’s case and has maintained his innocence, Alberio believes that he should be further examined.
Lt. Frank Sterns is the only person who remains with the department from the original team tasked with investigating Jodi’s disappearance in 1995. Lt. Sterns, along with the rest of the Mason City police force welcome the help from FindJodi.com but urge the public to contact them directly at (641) 421-3636 with any information that could lead to a break in the case.