In an effort to gain some fresh perspective on the Jodi Huisentruit disappearance, I recently began compiling an unusual list of circumstances involved in her unsolved case.
Or, rather, a list of circumstances which are not involved.
Television news anchor Jodi Huisentruit was abducted from the parking lot of her apartment complex in Mason City, Iowa sometime around 4:20 AM on June 27, 1995. She’d apparently overslept, and was already over an hour late for work when she was awakened by a call from her producer at KIMT-TV. Jodi told her co-worker that she “would be right in.”
She never arrived.
Nearly 26 years later, we still know precious little about what happened that morning.
Jodi’s car was found by police still in the parking lot a few hours later, seemingly in the same place it had been parked the night before.
There were signs of a struggle: some of Jodi’s personal belongings were strewn about the area and seemed to be leading towards the only street providing access to the parking lot. The key to Jodi’s newly-acquired Mazda Miata convertible was slightly bent, leading investigators to believe the key had been inside the driver’s side door lock when Jodi was forcibly attacked.
Soon after, a witness reported seeing a white van parked close to Jodi’s car around the time of the abduction. Police searched extensively for that van and its owner, apparently finding neither.
Another witness who approached FindJodi (who wishes to remain unidentified) says she used to run past Jodi’s apartment complex every morning around 4:30 AM. She told us that on the morning of the abduction, she was almost hit by a car speeding out of the complex’s parking lot.
Jodi’s high-profile case is still being investigated by local, state, and federal law enforcement. But, to date, nobody has ever been arrested for the crime.
Absence Of Evidence
What little is known about the events of that morning have been reported on and speculated about endlessly…
But the absence of information in Jodi’s case may itself be somewhat revealing.
Consider what didn’t happen:
The attack apparently didn’t occur inside Jodi’s apartment. A person planning to commit an abduction might weigh the likelihood of their being caught during or after the fact.
Factors involved in that consideration could include: potential witnesses, their own ability to lure or otherwise physically overtake a victim, the probability that police might be alerted of the attack in progress (or very soon after), among others. These risk factors increase exponentially during an attack in a public place.
Does the fact that Jodi’s abduction seems to have occurred in a public area indicate that the perpetrator had no conceivable way of gaining access to her apartment? Or that the final decision to carry out the abduction wasn’t made until minutes or seconds before?
The attacker didn’t abort upon Jodi’s not appearing. By all estimations, whoever is responsible for Jodi’s disappearance would have been waiting for a substantial amount of stressful time for her to appear from her apartment that morning.
It’s reasonably speculated that Jodi’s attacker knew her schedule. But even if not, it’s very likely that he/they would have needed to lie in wait for at a minimum of several minutes, if not more than an hour, for Jodi to emerge. Every passing moment brought more pre-dawn visibility to the scene, increasing the chances of both a greater number of possible witnesses and what those witnesses might be able to see. And still they waited.
What was so important that the attack needed to occur on that specific day? What might that tell us about Jodi’s abductor?
The attacker didn’t abort when Jodi fought back. Nobody in the apartment complex called police on the morning Jodi was abducted, but some residents have reported hearing a commotion in the parking lot around the same time.
One witness, who lived in a different building, estimated that he could hear a woman crying out for as long as 60 seconds. At least one other resident has similar, if less dramatic, memories of hearing strange muffled sounds coming from the area of Jodi’s car that morning, too. If these accounts can be trusted, Jodi was fighting back, drawing attention to her attacker and increasing the chances of someone noticing something and calling police.
Does this suggest that Jodi’s abductor was extremely confident in their ability to abduct Jodi and escape?
The attacker left little (if any) useful physical evidence. Some of the most common physical evidence available to police in cases similar to Jodi’s – blood, fingerprints, tire tracks, shoe impressions – are, as far as we know, all noticeably absent from the parking lot scene.
Mason City Police have publicly confirmed two pieces of possible physical evidence in Jodi’s case: a single strand of (presumably human) hair, and a partial palm print lifted from Jodi’s car. This evidence could be related to Jodi’s abduction, but it’s also possible that one or neither is.
A human hair found at the scene could belong to anyone who lives or visited there. The palm print could have been left by anyone within close proximity of her vehicle in recent days (though recent rainy weather in the area on the day before is a factor to consider). Regardless, police have confirmed that no blood was found at the scene.
Does the lack of physical evidence typically present in a violent assault indicate that the attack was very well-planned? A plan that had always involved removing Jodi from the scene?
For that matter… why was Jodi’s body removed from the scene?
Jodi’s body still hasn’t been found. The bodies of most homicide victims are eventually found.
There’s no official statistic kept along these lines, but the extrapolation of murder clearance rates combined with the number of criminal homicide cases prosecuted without a body reveals that the bodies of murder victims are found far more often than not.
Jodi is still missing to this day, which is part of the reason her case has never been solved. After 25+ years of planting seasons, summer recreation, and new construction, etc.; her remains are missing. It’s perhaps very unlikely that Jodi’s abductor(s) simply disposed of her body conveniently.
Does this help confirm that Jodi’s attacker was a local and very familiar with the area? Does this further provide some insight that Jodi’s abduction was a planned murder from the beginning?
Jodi’s missing belongings seemingly haven’t been found, either. Jodi was known to carry a large bag full of supplies she would use to get prepare to be on camera each day. Most days Jodi wore a blazer jacket on air during her broadcast. Friends say she had recently acquired and begun using a new address book for her contacts. As far as we know, none of these items have been found.
Was it important to Jodi’s abductor that these items go missing along with her? What could that reveal about her abductor(s)?
What else is missing?
In Jodi’s case, so far, there’s far more known about what didn’t happen than what did.
Take the opportunity of this post to consider what else might be added to the list, and please feel free to comment below.
What didn’t happen in Jodi’s case that sometimes or often happens in similar cases? What might that reveal about the person (or persons) responsible for abducting Jodi Huisentruit?