On the early June morning in 1995 when Jodi Huisentruit was abducted, Kevin Skarupa was on just his 7th day working as the morning and noon meteorologist at KIMT-TV in Mason City, IA. In a recent interview with FindJodi, Kevin agreed to share his memories of that very difficult time.
The KIMT weather position was Kevin’s first job out of college, and he’d spent a couple of weeks training at the small CBS television affiliate. Nothing could have prepared him for the events that would unfold in the days, weeks and months ahead. His memories of what happened to Jodi that June 27 are still with him more than 26 years later.
The day before Jodi disappeared, Kevin and Jodi played golf at the same Mason City Chamber of Commerce tournament. He and Jodi were on different teams, both representing KIMT. Kevin played on the Mason City Country Club course, while Jodi was on a team at the Highland Park Golf Club course.
Because Kevin typically went to work around 2:30 a.m., and often earlier, he didn’t join Jodi and other KIMT employees who attended the tournament dinner that Monday night at the Mason City Country Club.
Early the next morning, on the 27th, Kevin and assistant producer Amy Kuns were the only people in the KIMT newsroom. While he was busy working on his weather forecasts, Amy was busy producing the hour-long Daybreak newscast, waiting for Jodi to show up to help write and anchor the show.
As time went on, and the deadline for the 6 a.m. newscast kept getting closer, Kevin says he and Amy kept looking at each other, wondering “why is she [Jodi] not here yet?”
Amy has said she called Jodi about 4:10 a.m. at her apartment. Jodi had overslept, Amy said, but promised she would head right to the station, a 5-minute drive.
In his interview, Kevin says he expected Jodi to walk through the newsroom door about 5 a.m., but she didn’t show. Amy later tried calling Jodi again on her landline and got no answer. (Jodi did not have a cell phone at the time.)
“We were focused on getting the show on the air,” Kevin says. “Amy said Jodi had overslept before.”
Kevin thought Jodi might have been stopped for speeding as she rushed to work. He never never imagined she’d been a victim of a violent crime.
When Jodi still had arrived not at KIMT at 6 a.m., the Daybreak show went on without her. Amy anchored the news and Kevin reported on weather.
“As much as we’d have liked to leave to check on Jodi, we had to get the show on the air. It was a very weird, weird morning,” Kevin says.
He says Amy seemed increasingly concerned during every commercial break, wondering what had happened to Jodi.
“It was a very confusing morning. Every thought was racing through your head.”
Just after 7 a.m., when the Daybreak show ended, Amy asked another coworker who walked into the building to call Mason City police to do a welfare check on Jodi.
When the first officer arrived at the Key Apartments at 7:16 a.m., there was no sign of Jodi. Her red Mazda Miata was still there, but several of her personal items were scattered nearby, showing clear signs of a struggle.
The biggest unsolved mystery in Iowa history was about to begin.
Kevin remembers the next day as like being in a fog.
“(I) think it really hit when I was interviewed by the cops. It was very odd as a station to have to cover it,” says Kevin, whose desk was about 20 feet from Jodi’s. “I remember calling my parents the next day, when the police came. Things were often surreal working there in the immediate aftermath of Jodi’s abduction. It was a very odd feeling covering something that happened in my own newsroom.”
In the few weeks Kevin worked at KIMT before the abduction, he said he had not gotten to know Jodi very well. Kevin replaced popular meteorologist Don Harmon, who had been promoted to the station’s chief meteorologist. Kevin says he was more “straight-laced” than Don.
“I was very different from Don Harmon. (I) think he was a firecracker who dragged responses out of Jodi.”
On his 4th day at the station, Kevin remembers Jodi asking if she could show him her new car, which was parked in the KIMT lot.
“She was very proud of that vehicle. She had one of the biggest smiles I ever saw. She loved that car.”
During their short time working together, Jodi already had been at KIMT for a year and a half. She was actively looking to move on to a bigger television news market when her contract expired that fall.
Kevin recalls that Jodi mostly “did her own thing” and did not socialize much with most of her co-workers. He says the traumatic experience of Jodi’s abduction brought the small newsroom staff even closer together.
He speaks warmly of working with Amy Kuns during that difficult time. While they would compartmentalize things to keep going while on the air, Kevin says Amy often would break down during commercial breaks.
Kevin is now a meteorologist at a TV station in New Hampshire. He says many of his former KIMT colleagues still stay in touch, forever bonded by the traumatic memories of losing one of their own.
If you have information about Jodi’s case, you can reach the Mason City Police Department at (641) 421-3636. Or you can share information with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at (515) 725-6010 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also reach us anonymously at FindJodi: (970) 458-JODI (5634) or via email: Team@FindJodi.com