A Mother Never Forgotten: Murder of Angela Altman 1981

Murder Victim

Angela Marie Altman
22-year-old Single Mom
Cause of Death: Stabbed

Murder Scene and Date

215 S. 7th Street
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Webster County
January 24, 1981


By Nancy Bowers
Written September 2011

Angela Altman, courtesy Jessica Altman

On Saturday, January 24, 1981, 4-year-old Jessica Marie Altman woke to find the body of her mother Angela Marie Altman on the kitchen floor of the second-story apartment the two shared at 215 S. 7th Street in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Angela’s sister found them at 3:20 p.m. and notified Fort Dodge Police. Jessica was not harmed.

Angela Altman’s body was found on the second floor of this house (from the Fort Dodge Messenger).

After an autopsy, Webster County Medical Examiner Dr. Dan Cole ruled that 22-year-old Angela died from blood loss caused by abdominal stab wounds. She was also strangled and had been dead 8 to 10 hours when investigators arrived. Her family last saw her on the night of January 23.

The Department of Criminal Investigation assisted Fort Dodge Police, with Webster County Attorney Monty Fisher compiling details for any possible criminal case.

Neighbors told Fort Dodge Police that Angela was dating 16-year-old Everett Dial, who lived nearby at 413 S. 7th Street. Angela’s family believed the relationship was abusive.

At 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 25, Dial came to the police station and said he heard he was wanted for questioning in Angela’s death. Police held him in connection with the murder but did not say publicly why Dial was a suspect.

However, a witness placed him in the apartment that night and he did not have an alibi.

☛ Suspect Handled Through Juvenile Court System ☚

Angela holding her daughter Jessica (courtesy Jessica Altman).

Because he was under 18, Dial was held at the Juvenile Detention Center. Probation Officer Merlin Ritchey weighed alternatives in the case, looking particularly at competency status.

A petition was filed on Monday, January 25 in the Clerk of Court’s Office alleging that Dial committed a delinquent act — specifically, murder.

Magistrate and Juvenile Judge Francis Tierney wanted to close the probable cause hearing to evaluate the evidence Dial was being held on, but Dial’s attorney Tom Price preferred it be open.

Everett Dial was freed on his own recognizance in early March. Judge Tierney examined evaluations performed at North Central Mental Health Center and ruled that Dial was not a threat to the community nor a flight risk.

☛ Who Killed Angela? ☚

Everett Dial was not charged with the murder of Angela Altman, and no one else has been charged and convicted.

An Altman family member was recently told by both past and present Fort Dodge authorities that there were two possible suspects in the case, but not enough evidence to prove either guilty.

Angela’s case remains unsolved, and she has not received justice.

☛ Life of Angela Marie Altman ☚

Angela’s tombstone, photo by Leta Koll

Angela Marie Altman was born on July 30, 1958 in Meridian, Mississippi. She moved with her family to Fort Dodge when she was three months-old.She attended Pleasant View Elementary School and South Junior High School in Fort Dodge.

Her daughter Jessica Marie was born in September of 1976.

Angela’s funeral services were held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 31 at the Bruce Memorial Chapel. Rev. Bessie Williams, pastor of Mission Followers of Jesus Christ, conducted the funeral and Angela was buried in Oakland Cemetery.

She was survived by her daughter Jessica Marie Altman; her mother Clarice J. Altman; her brothers, Larry, Danny, Jimmy, and Michael Altman; and her sisters Dianne Altman Hunter and Delores and JoAnna Altman.

☛ A Daughter’s Search For Justice ☚

Angela smiling at her daughter Jessica, 1978 (courtesy Jessica Altman and Cindy Henning).

Angela’s daughter Jessica was raised by her grandmother Clarice Altman. Despite the tragedy in her early life, Jessica has achieved many goals and is very successful. After serving in the Army, she became a Registered Nurse and works at a Tennessee mental health facility.

She often returns to Iowa and has met with Fort Dodge and Webster County past and present law enforcement and representatives of the County Attorney’s Office. Her inquiries have turned up few clues and no answers to her questions about how and why her mother was denied justice.

in 2011, Jessica Altman met on-line and began communicating with Cindy Henning, who once mentored Angela through the Big Sister Program. They have since met in person and become close friends; together Jessica and Cindy are searching for answers to Angela’s murder.

In the summer of 2012, Fort Dodge Messenger reporter Barbara Wallace Hughes wrote a series of four articles about Angela’s death, the friendship between her daughter Jessica and Cindy Henning, and Jessica’s search for justice.

Click on the links to read each of Barbara’s informative stories:

“Who Killed Angela Altman?,” July 29, 2012.

“A Voice From the Past Reaches Out To Jessica Altman,” July 31, 2012.

“Murder won’t define daughter’s life,” July 31, 2012.

“Jessica Altman grew up without her mother, always wanting answers,” August 1, 2012.

☛ Reward Offered ☚

A $5,000 reward is offered by Webster County Crime Stoppers for information in the Altman homicide.

The Messenger stories created a great deal of local interest in the case. As Fort Dodge residents learned about Angela and Jessica, many wanted to assist in obtaining justice for Angela.

In late August of 2012, a $5,000 reward in the Altman case — provided by an anonymous donor — was announced by Webster County Crime Stoppers.

Jessica believes this reward will be instrumental in the search for answers to her mother’s murder.

Anyone with information about the homicide should phone the Fort Dodge Police Department at 515-573-1426 or Crime Stoppers at 515-573-1444. Tips can also be sent by texting LEC and the tip to 274637. Those who provide information can remain anonymous.

Click here
to visit the Webster County Crime Stoppers page.


Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.



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