Connie J. Craft
20-year-old Cosmetology Student
Cause of Death: Drowned
Murder Scene and Date
Albion Gravel Pit
June 30, 1975
By Nancy Bowers
Written April 2010
In 1975, the Albion Gravel Pit six-and-a-half miles northwest of Cresco off County Road A23 was a popular spot for swimming parties. Although the deep, spring-fed quarry was cold and surrounded by sheer rocks, it swarmed with swimmers at all hours during the summer months.
On Sunday night, June 29, 1975, however, the place was deserted. The weather was warm enough for socializing, but skies were cloudy; by mid-evening, rain and thunderstorms moved in and lasted through the early morning.
The next day, conditions improved. At 10:00 a.m., a man and woman intending to swim were startled by the sight of a body floating in the water. When law enforcement arrived, they pulled out a young woman clad in jeans and a halter top but wearing no shoes. In the pocket of her jeans were a driver’s license and other ID in a plastic holder.
The body was that of 20-year-old Connie Craft, a Cresco native who was visiting that weekend from Rochester, Minnesota, where she attended cosmetology school. She wanted to see old friends and attend the always-anticipated community event “The Mighty Howard County Fair.”
An autopsy showed Connie drowned, probably about 1:30 a.m. Monday morning. Although there were no signs of sexual assault, there were marks on her head, possibly caused by a rock or blunt instrument.
Because of the possibility of foul play, the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) came in to assist Howard County Sheriff Gordon Watros.
Authorities were able to piece together Connie’s evening up to within an hour of her death. She left home wearing the clothes she was found in, attended the Howard County Fair, and then walked a girlfriend home.
Connie was last seen at 12:30 a.m. sitting on the steps of the Old Armory across the street from the police station. It was unknown how she got to the quarry and in the water and drowned only an hour after she was seen alive.
Eight divers from the Black Hawk County Rescue Squad searched the quarry July 2 and July 4 for Connie’s shoes and other clues without results.
☛ Community Speculation ☚Connie’s death was a startling event for the small town of Cresco and came just before the three-day 4th of July holiday during which citizens gathered for picnics and family activities.
There was much speculation at those get-togethers about Connie’s death. Some heard her body had abrasions from being dragged. Others thought she had been wearing a jean jacket that later turned up in a young local man’s van.
There was gossip that the son of a wealthy businessman might have been involved. Or that someone special to Connie was mixed up in drugs and she found out.
While much of this may be hearsay or rumor, it is certain that someone knows what happened to Connie Craft.
☛ Connie Craft’s Life ☚
Connie J. Craft was born April 29, 1955 in Cresco to Helen Randak and Harold Leonard Craft, Sr. She had six siblings — Roger Craft, Harold Leonard Craft, Jr., Donna Craft Kelly, Ruth Craft Shimek, Carol Craft Burke, and Diane Craft Grandhandt.
She graduated from Cresco’s Notre Dame High School in 1974. At the time of her death, Connie was studying cosmetology in Rochester, Minnesota.
Funeral services were held July 3, 1975 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cresco and Connie was buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.
- ☛ “Divers search quarry for dead woman’s shoes,” Waterloo Courier, July 4, 1975.
- ☛ “Divers search quarry in area [of] woman’s death,” Waterloo Courier, July 3, 1975.
- ☛ “Drowning, Albion Gravel Pit, of Connie Craft, 20,” Lime Springs Herald, July 3, 1975.
- ☛ “Gravel Pit Search By Skin Divers,” Lime Springs Herald, July 10, 1975.
- ☛ “Howard County drowning probed by BCI, sheriff,” Waterloo Courier, July 1, 1975.
- ☛ “Miss Connie Craft,” Waterloo Courier, July 1, 1975.
- ☛ Personal Correspondence, family members, 2010.
- ☛ “Quarry search at Cresco abandoned,” Waterloo Courier, July 6, 1975.
- ☛ “Services Held For Connie Craft,” Emmetsburg Democrat, July 17, 1975.
- ☛ U.S. Census.