Traci Ann Evenson
22-year-old Kirkwood Community College Student
Causes of Death: Beaten and Suffocated
Murder Scene and Date
438 1/2 Ninth Avenue SW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
June 21, 1997
By Nancy Bowers
Written February 2010/June 2012
On the foggy, overcast morning of Sunday, June 22, 1997, Jodi Lynn Jackson found her 22-year-old sister Traci Ann Evenson dead in the second-floor apartment at 438 1/2 Ninth Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids where Traci had lived for only a month.
Her landlords, John and Eileen Balducki, resided on the first floor.
The young dead woman was last seen alive when leaving her shift at APAC TeleServices the night before.
☛ Investigation ☚
Cedar Rapids Police, under the direction of Lt. Kenneth Washburn, seized evidence from Traci’s apartment, including — according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette:
“A ring of keys, assorted papers and photos, a kitchen knife, drinking glasses, a shirt, a bra, a sock, two panties, two purses, two bed covers and pillows, hairs, an answering machine, a telephone, and body samples.”
Latent fingerprints were recovered from Traci’s car, which was parked in the 400 block of Ninth Avenue SW.
Cedar Rapids Police also searched outside the house and then, using a warrant, combed through the first-floor apartment of John and Eileen Balducki.
The Gazette reported that officers seized:
“Three grow lamps, three keys for [Traci] Evenson’s apartment, a cast of a tire impression, two liter bottles, PVC pipe, and plant material.”
The Balduckis were arrested and charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, criminal actions determined not to be related to the homicide investigation.
All evidence was sent to the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Lab for testing.
An autopsy conducted by Assistant Linn County Medical Examiner Dr. David Kresnicka revealed that Traci Evenson was beaten viciously on the face and died of suffocation about 9:30 on Saturday night, June 21.
No semen was recovered during the autopsy, and the crime appeared to be one of rage rather than sexual assault.
Investigators believed Traci was familiar with the person who killed her and let him into the apartment. Cedar Rapids Police Chief Bud Byrne told Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter Steve Grevelle:
“I think this is somebody she knew, so I don’t think there’s any cause for alarm for neighbors.
We would advise them to take the same precautions they would anytime, but I don’t think we have a serial [offender] to be concerned about.”
Traci’s mother Norma Zillyette believed that Traci might have been killed by a stranger, a stalker who had been tracking her and followed her home from work the night of the murder.
Cars were parked and moved so often in the densely populated neighborhood that no one could say if an unusual or unfamiliar vehicle had been on the street during the homicide.
☛ Reward Offered ☚
In early October of 1997, Cedar Rapids Police Sgt. Mark Andries announced a reward had been put together for information leading to the solving of Traci’s murder. Her Minnesota-based family contributed $11,000. Another $5,500 was donated by APAC TeleServices — where Traci worked at the time of her death — and yet another $500 came from a family friend. The total amount was $16,500.
However, the large reward was never collected. In fact, a 25-year veteran of the Cedar Rapids Police said the Evenson homicide generated the fewest tips of any case he worked during his time as a detective.
☛ Did the Killer Die? ☚
After the murder, Traci’s sister Jodi Lynn Jackson, 26, and her husband Anthony Jackson, 28, moved from Cedar Rapids to West St. Paul, Minnesota, and found jobs there. The family reported Jodi was haunted by nightmares of discovering her sister’s body.
On November 27, 1997 — five months after the murder — Jodi and Anthony Jackson were involved in a serious car accident while traveling to Waterloo, Iowa, to visit Jackson family relatives. The couple and their two children, Anthony, Jr., 5, and Jazmine, 3, all died in the crash.
In 2000, Cedar Rapids Homicide Detective Sam McClurg told a Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter that from the beginning Traci’s brother-in-law Anthony Jackson emerged as a suspect. He drew notice because he had been convicted of assaulting another woman, did not display emotion at the murder scene, and quickly hired a lawyer when questioned. His wife Jodi, Traci’s sister, was his alibi for the time of the murder. Investigators believed that Anthony Jackson left Cedar Rapids after the murder to avoid scrutiny in the homicide.
After the deadly car accident, Detective McClurg obtained tissue and fluid samples from Anthony Jackson’s body. While the DNA retrieved proved that he was guilty of raping a relative’s girlfriend the year before Traci was murdered, it did not link him to the Evenson homicide.
McClurg suggested that Traci may have rebuffed Jackson’s sexual advances, causing him to become enraged and attack her, and that the scene was staged to look like a rape committed by a stranger or intruder.
Traci’s family members said Jackson was possessive of Traci’s sister Jodi and that Traci knew he was cheating on her. They believed that if Jackson killed Traci, he did so to silence her.
☛ Traci Ann Evenson’s Life ☚
Traci Ann Evenson was born January 20, 1975, in Ramsey, Minnesota, to Norma Jean Bierbrauer and Philip Ordean Evenson. In addition to her sister Jodi — who was married to suspect Anthony Jackson — there were two brothers, Stephen and Robert. At the time of her death, Traci’s parents were divorced and had remarried; her mother, Norma Zillyette, lived in West St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1994, Traci graduated from Washington High School in Cedar Rapids. She took computer classes at Kirkwood Community College and worked two jobs.
She made telemarketing calls for 30 hours a week at APAC TeleServices. From 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. four days a week, she bussed tables and washed dishes in the deli of the Collins Road NE Hy-Vee grocery store. Her job evaluations were excellent and she got along well with co-workers.
Traci was a quiet person, not known to smoke or drink. An aunt, Betty Dyberg, termed her “a good, normal kid.”
Traci’s family and friends gathered for a prayer service on the evening of June 25 at the Cedar Rapids’s Brosh Chapel, where they were consoled by Rev. Wendell Beets of the Word of Faith Pentecostal Church of God in Christ. A funeral was held at Southern Funeral Home in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Tracy was laid to rest in the General Lutheran Cemetery (German Lutheran Cemetery) in South St. Paul.
Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.
- ☛ “2 Deaths probed: “C.R. police are investigating death as a possible homicide,” by Steve Grevelle, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 23, 1997.
- ☛ “2nd tragedy strikes family,” by Adam Lowensteln, Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 28, 1997.
- ☛ “Answers elusive on 4 murders” by Steve Gravelle, Cedar Rapids Gazette December 28, 1997.
- ☛ “Classic whodunit still open” by Steve Gravelle, Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 17, 1998.
- ☛ “Continual hunt for closure” by Rick Miller, Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 9, 2000.
- ☛ “Evenson autopsy report in,” by Dick Hogan, Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 19, 1997.
- ☛ “Evenson reward offered,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 25, 1997.
- ☛ “Few tips received on Evenson murder,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 16, 1998.
- ☛ “Police: Death is a homicide,” by Rick Smith, Cedar Rapids Gazette. June 24, 1997.
- ☛ “Police: Woman knew killer,” by Steve Grevelle, Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 25, 1997.
- ☛ “Reward grows in murder case,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 8, 1997.
- ☛ “Reward offered for info in murder,” Cedar Rapids Gazette September 24, 1997.
- ☛ “Search warrants produce no new clues to Evenson murder,” by Dick Hogan, Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 3, 1997.
- ☛ “Traci A. Evenson Obituary,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 25, 1997.
- ☛ “Victim’s mother waits, wonders,” by Steve Gravelle, Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 30, 1997.