Iowa History Daily: June 27 - Jodi Huisentruit Disappears

Iowa History Daily: During the early hours of June 27, 1995, CBS KIMT Mason City news anchor Jodi Huisentruit disappeared outside of her apartment on the way to work. Evidence at the scene demonstrated signs of struggle, neighbors filed witness statements of screams overnight, and police believe a still unknown assailant abducted Huisentruit.

Born in Long Prairie, Minnesota, Huisentruit excelled in golf during high school before enrolling to study mass communications at St. Cloud State University. Eventually hired by CBS KGAN Cedar Rapids as the Iowa City Bureau Chief, and then ABC KSAX in Alexandria, Minnesota, a promising career started well for the young reporter.

Returning to Iowa for a job at CBS KIMT as the morning anchor on the network’s show Daybreak. A vibrant and active member of the Mason City community leading up to her disappearance, Huisentruit returned from a water skiing trip to Iowa City and played in the Mason City Chamber of Commerce golf tournament fundraiser on June 25. During the evening she stopped by the home of local man John Vansice to view a videotape taken at a surprise birthday party the man threw for Jodi to celebrate her 27th birthday earlier in the month.

Amy Kuhns, KIMT Producer, undoubtedly eagerly checked her watch after Huisentruit missed her normal 3:00 a.m. arrival time at the station the next morning. Kuhns called Huisentruit’s apartment and briefly spoke to the anchor who reported she overslept and would soon arrive at the station. Kuhns rang again around 5:00 a.m. to find no answer before subbing in on the anchor desk for Daybreak. A staff member contacted the police following the show to investigate.

What happened next still escapes investigators 27 years later. Accounts from neighbors reported screams around the time in question, and one reported a still unidentified white van left running with the headlights on. When authorities failed to chase down any promising leads by September, the Huisentruit family hired the private investigation firm of McCarthy and Associates and PI Doug Jasa to look into the crime. Despite national coverage on programs including “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries” a chargeable suspect failed to come from the search.

Police conducted over 1,000 interviews over the months after the crime, and in early 1996 over 100 volunteers turned out to search part of Cerro Gordo County for anything suspicious. Authorities legally declared Huisentruit dead in 2001. Two Minnesota reporters, Josh Benson and Gary Peterson, formed FindJodi.com in the hopes of keeping the search alive.

Although other evidence, including 84 pages of Huisentruit’s journal mailed anonymously to the Mason City Globe Gazette and GPS data pulled by authorities on two of Vansice’s vehicles, has emerged the perpetrator of the crime still holds the secrets of what happened on that early morning in June 27 years ago. In 2022 a special “Gone at Dawn,” debuted by ABC’s “20/20” profiled the case, and billboards imploring anyone with information to come forward still serve as daily reminders to Mason City that justice for Jodi is still possible. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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