Foul Play: Murder of Paula Oberbroeckling 1970

Murder Victim

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling
18-year-old Sales Clerk
Younker’s Department Store
1952-1970
Cause of Death: Unknown
Motive: Unknown

 

Murder Information and Date

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Linn County
Last Seen July 11, 1970
Body Found November 29, 1970

 

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By Nancy Bowers
July 20101

Paula Oberbroeckling

What follows is a very brief summary of details concerning the unsolved 1970 murder of 18-year-old Paula Jean Oberbroeckling.

For an in-depth study of Paula Oberbroeckling’s murder, visit whathappenedtopaula.com. Established by noted author Susan Taylor Chehak, the website documents and investigates the tragic case and is the definitive source for all information on the unsolved homicide.

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Paula Oberbroeckling’s residence, courtesy whathappenedtopaula.com

In the summer of 1970, Cedar Rapids resident Paula Jean Oberbroeckling was 18 years old. A beautiful girl with long blonde hair and blue eyes, she taught developmentally disabled children and worked at Younker’s Department Store in Lindale Plaza.

Paula and her friend Debbie Kellogg shared a residence at 116 Tenth Street NW.

Debbie Kellogg said that Paula went on a date Saturday night, July 11, 1970 and came home. About 1:00 a.m., Paula asked to borrow Debbie’s car keys. Dressed in a powder blue bra dress — a very fashionable style of the time — she walked out the door and said, “I’ll be right back.” But Paula didn’t come home.

On Sunday, Debbie Kellogg’s car was found near the Eagle Food Store on Fourteenth Street SE, two miles east of where Debbie and Paula lived.

Paula’s family was desperate for answers. Her grandmother, Vera Oberbroeckling, went door-to-door questioning residents in the neighborhood where the car was located.

Despite great publicity and extensive searches for her, Paula was not located. Cedar Rapids Police said, however, they had no evidence any harm had come to her.

☛ Paula is Found ☚

Investigators work the Oberbroeckling crime scene (photo by L.W. Ward, Cedar Rapids Gazette).

Three days after Thanksgiving, on Sunday, November 29, 1970, George Juntilla and his two sons, Dale, 14, and Dave, 11, discovered a body in a ravine near the Cedar River along Otis Road in southeast Cedar Rapids six miles from Paula’s and Debbie’s apartment.

When police responded, they found decomposed remains draped around a steel pin in the ground. The body — hands and feet bound with clothesline rope — was clad in a light blue dress. A piece of rope lay on the ground nearby.

Two rings and the dress were identified by Paula’s mother as belonging to her daughter.

The cause of death could not be determined because of decomposition, although Cedar Rapids Police Chief George Matias told the press:

“We believe foul play was involved.”

Head of the University of Iowa Oral Surgery Department Dr. Merle Hale compared Paula’s dental records to the remains and officially identified the body as hers.

On Saturday, December 5, fifteen members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department Explorer Scout Post searched the area where the body was found but failed to locate any personal items belonging to Paula.

☛ Paula Oberbroeckling’s Life ☚

photo by Gail Wenhardt

Paula Jean Oberbroeckling was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on February 25, 1952 to Carol Burks and James Joseph Oberbroeckling. She had four siblings — sister Lynn Marie Oberbroeckling Greve and three brothers, Todd Patrick, Christopher James, and Timothy Oberbroeckling. She graduated from Washington High School in 1970.

Services for Paula were held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, December 6 at St. Matthew’s Church in Cedar Rapids, and she was buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

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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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References

  • ☛ “Badly decomposed body identified,” Burlington Hawk-Eye, December 2, 1970.
  • ☛ “Authorities identify body,” Oskaloosa Daily Herald, December 2, 1970.
  • ☛ “Body that of Girl Missing Four Months,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 1, 1970.
  • ☛ “Father of Injured Girl Gets Judgment,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 27, 1958.
  • ☛ “Identify Body as C.R. Girl,” Des Moines Register, December 7, 1970.
  • ☛ “Identify Body as girl from Cedar Rapids,” Ames Daily Tribune, December 2, 1970.
  • ☛ Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation Cold Case Unit.
  • ☛ “Miss Oberbroeckling Funeral Is Monday,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 5, 1970.
  • ☛ “Old Christening Gown,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 24, 1954.
  • ☛ “Paula Oberbroeckling Struck by Car, Injured,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 22, 1958.
  • ☛ “Report Nothing Found in Area of Body’s Discovery,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 6, 1970.
  • whathappenedtopaula.com

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