True or False: Jodi Huisentruit’s abductor(s) drove a white van.
No matter how you answered, you might be right.
A white van has been referenced in connection with Jodi’s disappearance countless times since she was taken from the parking lot of her apartment complex on June 27, 1995.
The van is mentioned in the timeline so often it’s practically become a fact of the case. As one of Jodi’s co-workers said 10 years after she vanished: “white vans still trigger something in my head.”
But the truth is, we don’t know for sure what Jodi’s abductor(s) drove that morning.
The purpose of this post is to demonstrate why we at FindJodi.com try not to rely too heavily on this ‘fundamental’ aspect of Jodi’s abduction.
Where did the white van come from?
Investigators did not publicly classify Jodi’s disappearance as an abduction until nearly a week after she disappeared.
When they finally did – at a news conference on July 1, 1995 – they also revealed their interest in a mid-80’s model white Ford van.
Police had immediately focused on the van after a tip was called in by Randy Linderman, a man who lived on the same street as Jodi’s complex and commuted past it daily.
Linderman was driving a carpool that morning and said he saw a white Ford Econoline van parked in front of Jodi’s apartment, facing the street. He couldn’t tell if the engine was running, but saw the van’s front parking lights were turned on (he’d initially noticed the vehicle thinking it could have been a police car).
Linderman says the headlights were off.
He didn’t see a driver, or anyone else inside or around the vehicle.
As Linderman described his sighting to me in March 2019:
“I saw a white van parked in the parking area, having gone down that road many times, I’d never seen it there before… if I had to say a time, I’d probably say 3:50 (AM)”
Linderman called police later that day after hearing about Jodi’s abduction.
His tip was taken seriously. Police quickly determined that none of the other residents of the apartment complex were registered owners of a similar van. By mid-afternoon, an alert had been issued for any van matching its description.
Linderman’s account of the van he saw in Jodi’s parking lot early that morning has never wavered. (It was a white Ford Econoline van; “I know my vehicles,” he told me.)
As stalwart and consistent as Linderman has been about what he saw, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the white van speculation in Jodi’s case comes from this single eyewitness sighting, which, according to Linderman, lasted no more than a 15-20 seconds while on his way to work.
Randy Linderman himself is very open to the possibility that the van he saw had nothing to do with the case.
“I can’t say for sure it was involved,” he says.
For 24 years, Linderman’s sighting was the only connection of a white van to Jodi’s disappearance.
The second van sighting
Last year I spoke with another witness who also saw a white van parked nearby on the morning Jodi was abducted.
“Connie” (who asked that her identity be withheld due to the nature of her profession) was renting the upstairs portion of a home directly across the street from the apartment complex in 1995.
On the morning of Jodi’s abduction she saw a similar light-colored van parked on the street outside of the complex entrance, facing south.
“I remember 4:00-4:30 (AM) hearing a car door… I’d never heard it before, the street was really, really quiet. I saw what looked to be a white or a light gray van on the street, not in the parking lot but on the street. I really didn’t think too much about it. I didn’t see any people. As I was falling back asleep I heard another door close. When I woke up two hours later the van was gone.”
Connie says it was unusual for any vehicle to be parked on the street at all, especially so early in the morning.
She believes one of the car door sounds she heard may have been the sound of the van’s rear hatch doors being closed.
Persons of Interest
Some of the persons of interest associated with Jodi’s case drove a van at the time she was abducted.
None of the vans were white.
Thomas Corscadden, a sex offender from Austin, MN, owned a different colored van in 1995. Mason City Police stated in 2004 that Corscadden’s palm prints did not match the one taken from Jodi’s vehicle.
John Vansice, a friend of Jodi’s who claimed to be with her the night before she vanished, also owned a van at the time.
Vansice’s van (pictured) was blue, not white.
Tony Jackson, a serial rapist who lived just two blocks from Jodi’s television station, is not known to have driven a van during the summer of 1995. Jackson was officially eliminated as a suspect by Mason City Police in 1999.
No public person of interest in the case is known to have driven a white Ford Econoline van.
Where to park the van?
There are at least two witnesses who remember a white van in the area at the time of Jodi’s disappearance, but nobody saw her being abducted into one.
Would a van waiting in position for Jodi have its parking lights turned on?
Perhaps the van was delivering newspapers or picking up somebody else who lived there. I’ve been told of an electrician who owned a similar van and often did work for the apartment complex.
There are many explanations for the van that would have nothing to do with the case.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that Randy Linderman (and maybe Connie, too) actually did see the vehicle used to take Jodi.
We’re still very interested in any tip about Jodi’s case involving a white van.
As with so much of Jodi’s case, the white van could be everything.
Or it could be yet another dead end.