Jazz Age, Great Depression: Iowa Unsolved Murders 1918 -1940


Click on a title below to read about defenseless victims, heartless killers, and unfathomable motives associated with historical Iowa unsolved murders from just after WWI to the beginning of WWII.

All the following articles were researched and written by Nancy Bowers between 2009 and the present, some with the assistance of David Jindrich.

For many of the victims, these stories were the first preservation of the facts other than newspaper articles from the time of the murders.

This is the only legally authorized site for the research and articles — many never seen before. Check back soon; articles are added frequently.


☛ 1918 – 1940 ☚

At Closing Time: Murder of Officer George W. Mattern 1918

Alleyway Robbery: The Murder of Carlisle Hunter 1919

The Gardener and the Black Hand: Murder of Dominic Sposeto 1919

Black Hand and the Coal Miner: Murder of Nicollo Vinceri 1920

“Hacked to Pieces”: Murder of John McGill 1920

Gas Light: Suspicious Deaths of Clara & Alfred Mellor, Jr. 1920

Skull By the River: Murder of Jane Doe 1920

Strangled With His Own Necktie: Murder of David Faulkner 1920

The Wrong Brother? Murder of William VandeBrake 1920

All Souls’ Day: Murders of Sister Mary Virginis and Sister Mary Rosalita 1921

Charred Remains: Murder of Jane Otis 1921

“Fear of the Dread Black Hand”: Murder of Domenico Baretto 1921

Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Death: Murder of Walter Baldwin 1921

Deadly Taxi Party: Murder of Thaddeus Mitchell 1922

Death Along the Lincoln Highway: Murders of Rose and Homer Brownfield 1922

“The King of Little Italy”: Murder of Angelo Ferrari 1922

65 Cents: Murder of “Smitty” Smith 1924

Lonely Hearts Scam and the Veteran: Murder of Michael Featherstone 1924

Chinese Tong Ritual: Murder of John “Jack” Fong 1924

The Big Swede: Murder of Carl Axel Deer 1925

The Burning Shack: Murder of Martin Cummins 1925

Deadly Tramps: Murder of Allan F. Shoemaker 1925

Death at the Hardware Store: Murders of Harry Jones and William Laugesen 1925

Mayhem: Murder of W.A. Davies 1925

“No Necking Here”: Murder of Harry Overturf 1925

The Redhead in the Strawstack: Murder of Jane Doe 1925

Sisters Act: Suspicious Deaths of Josephine Goodwin and Elizabeth Anthony 1925

Slaughter of Innocents: Sioux City Babies 1925

Teatotaling Klanswoman: Murder of Myrtle Cook 1925

Third Time, No Charm: Murder of Benjamin “Barney” Kaplan 1925

Black Hand Vendetta? Murder of Phoebe Jane Vigoletti 1926

Death at the Box Company: Murder of Earl Paris 1928

At the Crossroads Store: Murder of George Hardy 1929

Never Three Without Four? Murder of George G. Shackell 1929

“No Women Or Children Allowed”: Murder of Winfield Scott Rouse 1929

Undercover: Murder of Louis H. Dayton 1929

“Myself, Meadow, Hawk”: Murder of Evelyn Lee 1930

“‘Stick ’em Up, Louie'”: Murder of Louis Friedman 1930

Gun Battle in the Night: Murder of Virgil Untied 1931

Summer Night in the Park: Murder of J.H. Peck 1931

Butter and Egg Day: Murder of Nels Louvring 1933

The Secret Diary: Murder of Fred Hollingsworth 1933

What the Poultry Men Found: Murder of Ashley Downing 1933

The Gentle Man: Murder of Charles Englehart 1935

In the Big Muddy: Murder of Sherman Casper 1935

The Woman Who Bought Her Own Tombstone: Murder of Sarah Tracy 1935

Coal Mine Plunge: Suspicious Death of Robert Ruby 1936

Staged Scene: Murder of Charles Shamblen 1936

Grifters and Cons: Murder of “Lucille Marvin” 1937

Last Day of Work: Murder of Floyd Alloway 1937

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