57-year-old Dairy Owner
Murder Scene and Date
La Porte City Dairy
La Porte City, Iowa
Black Hawk County
March 5, 1968
Cause of Death: Gunshot
By Nancy Bowers
At 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 1968, 55-year-old Ruth Redman came home to her La Porte City residence from a meeting at the First United Presbyterian Church. She found her 57-year-old husband Dale had not returned from the local dairy he owned.
Written March 2010
Ruth didn’t worry at first because Dale recently bought the city’s former firehouse as a new location for the business and was in the process of transferring refrigeration equipment there. But when Dale was not home by midnight, Ruth drove to the dairy four blocks away.Dale’s unoccupied station wagon was parked outside on Chestnut Street. The dairy’s front door was locked, but through a window Ruth saw Dale lying on the floor near an ice cream machine.
Ruth drove home to get the building’s keys and phoned La Porte City Police Chief Robert Webber, who accompanied her back to the dairy at 12:30 a.m.
Inside they found Dale Redman dead, shot twice in the face and six times in the back of the head. He had been ambushed as he entered the building. His wallet with a small amount of money was missing.
The entryway was dark, but lights were on in an interior room and another room near the back of the building. A screen was cut on a rear window, although there was no sign of entry there.
Pathologist Gilbert Clark performed an autopsy at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo and recovered eight .22 caliber bullets, although no empty cartridges were found at the scene. Dr. Clark estimated the time of death was between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.
☛ Investigation and Clues ☚
La Porte City Police Chief Robert Webber, Black Hawk County Sheriff Elmer Hightower, and Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents worked together following clues and interrogating witnesses.
Tips came in. Someone spotted a young man running in front of the dairy on Chestnut Street towards Main Street about 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. the night of the murder. And a Main Street tavern owner saw someone in an alley behind the dairy about 11:30.
Ten days before Dale Redman’s murder, the dairy was broken into and the safe battered open with a hammer. Fifty dollars was taken. Two sets of footprints in the snow led from the dairy to a vehicle about three blocks away and then tire tracks led to a Van’s Grocery, where the thieves entered through a bathroom window and stole $376.54.
☛ Community On Edge ☚
Dale Redman was highly regarded in La Porte City. Mayor Frank Nabholz, who lived across the street from the Redmans, said, “He was reserved and quiet. He never raised his voice.” Puzzled dairy employee Bob Pennell said:
“It doesn’t make sense that a guy would pump eight shots into him. He was the kind who would walk 100 miles to keep a guy from being mad at him . . . . There was no greater person. I thought the world of him. If they found the guy who did this and turned him loose, he’d probably be dead in five minutes.”
The town of 2,500 was angry, unnerved, and on edge. The Black Hawk County Sheriff sent extra patrol cars to the city. Streets were empty at night, except for a few teenagers “cruising” who went home well before the 10:00 p.m. curfew. Taverns once open till 2:00 a.m. were shut by 10:30.
A traveling encyclopedia salesman was warned not to make calls in the evening — or risk being “taken out of town on a stretcher” — and the Waterloo newspaper carrier said his collection was short because people would not come to the door when he knocked.
Hardware dealers, like the Coast to Coast Store, reported an increase in handgun purchases. The manager there said about the murder:
“It shook up a lot of people — they’re scared.”
☛ Bizarre Hoax ☚
On the night of March 15, 1968 — when tensions were highest — 19-year-old Willis Richard “Rick” Rhoads called the police with more frightening news. He said he drove to La Porte City from his farm 4 miles to the northeast. As he was passing the Kimble Hog Market just north of town, he spotted a man creeping along the side of the building. Rhoads pulled onto the driveway in front so that his headlights illuminated the man, who was wearing a ski mask.
The man raised his arm to aim a handgun and Rick ducked below the dashboard. Two shots hit the windshield, but Rick Rhoads was able to drive away and seek help.
Authorities saw similarities to the Redman shooting and Police Chief Robert Webber said:
“There’s no doubt in my mind these two crimes are connected.”
He praised the masked man’s “deadly accuracy” because the Rhoads’s car was moving and the shooter would’ve been blinded by the headlights and said Rhoads would definitely have been killed had he not dropped down because the two shots hit in the area of the driver’s face.
Three days later, Rick Rhoads — described by a newspaper as a “good looking, slimly built 6-1 youth” — admitted to police that the shooting was a hoax and that he fired the bullets into his own windshield with a .22 caliber rifle before driving into town. He provided no reason for his actions.
Rhoads was placed in the Black Hawk County Jail pending investigation, arraigned on March 18 for obstructing justice, and then taken to the Mental Health Institute at Independence, Iowa, for evaluation. He pled guilty in November of 1968 to the charges.
☛ Dale Redman’s Life ☚
Perry Dale Redman was born September 3, 1910 in Fort Dodge, Iowa, the youngest child of Emily Henrietta Scheerer and John Perry Redman. He had four siblings: Paul Lester Redman, Josephine Louise Redman Brennan, Earl Alvin Redman, and Dessie Mae Redman Stevens.
Redman graduated from Fort Dodge High School, Fort Dodge Junior College, and Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa. The day before his 24th birthday in 1934, he married Ruth Barker in Des Moines.
Prior to purchasing the La Porte City Dairy in 1951, he was employed by the Borden Company in Decorah, Iowa.
In La Porte City, Redman was a member of the Lions and Commercial clubs and was elected to City Council and the School Board. He was an elder at his church. Ruth Redman, too, was civic-minded and served on the La Porte City Library Board of Trustees.
Funeral services were held at First United Presbyterian Church in La Porte City on March 8 and he was buried at West View Cemetery.
Dale Redman was survived by his wife Ruth and his sons — Navy Lt. John Redman, who was stationed at Long Beach, California; Robert Redman, who worked at the John Deer Tractor Works in Frankfort, Germany; and Andrew, who lived in Dubuque, Iowa. There were two daughters, Nancy Redman, a teacher at Grundy Center, Iowa, and Susan Brust of Elkader, Iowa. Also surviving were his brother Earl, his two sisters, and two grandchildren.
The La Porte City Dairy was sold on April 1, 1968 to Bob Pennell, who had worked there for Dale Redman and was one of his pallbearers.
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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- ☛ “3 Recent Iowa Murders Still Unsolved,” Waterloo Daily Courier, June 27, 1968.
- ☛ “Advertisement,” La Porte City Progress-Review, April 10, 1968.
- ☛ “Brutal Murders of 3 Iowans Still Unsolved,” Muscatine Journal, June 27, 1968.
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- ☛ Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation Cold Case Unit.
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- ☛ “Rhoads to Face Mental Evaluation, Waterloo Daily Courier, March 19, 1968.
- ☛ “Rick Rhoads Admits Shooting Hoax,” Waterloo Daily Courier, March 20, 1968.
- ☛ “Separate Break-ins Net Thieves $426,” La Porte City Progress-Review, February 2, 1968.
- ☛ “Shot 8 Times,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 7, 1968.
- ☛ “Story about Masked Man Just a Hoax,” Estherville Daily News, March 18, 1968.
- ☛ “Thieves Hit Two La Porte Firms,” Waterloo Daily Courier, February 26, 1968.
- ☛ “Three Iowa Slayings This Year Remain Unsolved,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 27, 1968.
- ☛ “Youth, 19, Admits Hoax In Shooting,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 18, 1968.
- ☛ “Youth Almost Shot By Masked Person,” Waterloo Daily Courier, March 15, 1968.
- ☛ “Youth Charged In Sniper Hoax,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 19, 1968.