Outside the Welcome Inn: Murder of Judith Reed 1974

Murder Victim

Judith I. Reed
Cause of Death: Beating
Motive: Drunken Quarrel

Murder Scene and Date

Charlotte, Iowa
Clinton County
December 27, 1974


By Nancy Bowers
Written January 2012

location of Charlotte, Iowa

location of Charlotte, Iowa

On Thursday, December 26, 1974, 38-year-old Charlotte, Iowa, resident Judith Reed spent the evening at the Welcome Inn tavern in Goose Lake, about five miles east of where she resided.

Reed was with another woman, who was not identified in the media. At some point in the evening, Welcome Inn owner Ismel Pacho asked the two women to leave. Outside the tavern there was an altercation, during which Judith Reed was struck on the head.

Judith complained that night of a headache but didn’t want to see a physician. Reed returned to Charlotte and, as she had done before, slept on the floor at the home of her friends Norma and Robert Haines.

Headline from the Clinton Herald (courtesy David Jindrich)

At 8:10 the next morning, Norma and Robert Haines discovered Judith unresponsive and called the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.

County Coroner J.J. Young arrived at the scene and pronounced Judith Reed dead. Reed’s body was examined at Mercy Hospital in Clinton, where the cause of death was determined to be a head injury. Later that day, Capt. James Kerens announced to the media there was nothing unusual about Reed’s death.

from the Waterloo Courier

The Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation assisted the Sheriff’s Office with an investigation; and on Saturday, December 28, Clinton County Sheriff Gary Mulholland told the Clinton Herald that Judith Reed received her head injury during the altercation outside the Welcome Inn.

The person responsible for Judith Reed’s fatal head injury was never identified or prosecuted.

In an April 17, 1975 editorial, the Clinton Herald listed Judith Reed’s homicide as one of five that county authorities had failed to solve, noting:

“With each passing day chances of solution become a bit more remote.”

☛ Judith Reed’s Life ☚

photo by Michael Kearney

Judith I. Reed was born July 26, 1936 in Indiana. She moved to Charlotte, Iowa, in 1970.

Her funeral was held on December 30 at the Charlotte Immanuel Lutheran Church, where she was a member, and she was buried in Rossiter Cemetery.

Judith Reed was survived by her children — Clarence Plummer, Jr., Alfred Plummer, Betty Plummer, and Brenda Plummer Reynolds — as well as three brothers and three sisters.

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


☛ David Jindrich contributed special research and correspondence to this article. ☚


  • ☛ “Charlotte Woman Dead After Fight Near Bar,” Clinton Herald, December 28, 1974.
  • ☛ “Lack of Candor In Murder Investigation Is Disturbing,” Clinton Herald, April 17, 1975.
  • ☛ “Police probe Charlotte woman’s death,” Waterloo Courier, December 29, 1974.
  • ☛ U.S. Census.

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