Letters in Russian: Murder of Ben Mikovitch 1914

Murder Victim

Ben Mikovitch
Rock Island Railroad Laborer
Russian Immigrant
Age Unknown
Cause of Death: Bludgeoned
Motive: Unknown

Murder Scene and Date

Near Shaul Cemetery
Ottumwa, Iowa
Wapello County
August 25, 1914


By Nancy Bowers
Written October 2010

location of Ottumwa, Iowa

location of Ottumwa, Iowa

On Tuesday, August 25, 1914, a murdered man was found in a cornfield near Shaul Cemetery on the western edge of Ottumwa. There was no identification on the man’s body.

Nearby was a railroad track chisel, assumed to be the murder weapon.

Eight days later, Mrs. Con Jacobson — a member of the Ottumwa Swedish-American community who lived about a mile east of the cemetery on Minnesota Street — found a suitcase. Inside were men’s clothes. and letters written in Russian.

from the Oelwein Daily Register

Wapello County Coroner and local druggist J.S. Ellerick learned from a Chicago employment agency that the murdered man was Benjamin “Ben” Mikovitch, a Russian immigrant sent with five fellow countrymen to Drakesville, 20 miles southwest of Ottumwa, to perform track work for the Rock Island Railroad.

At that time, thousands of passenger and freight trains passed through the county, with Ottumwa as the hub.

Ottumwa and Wapello County law enforcement could not locate any acquaintances of Mikovitch or any family members. And there were no clues in addition to the murder weapon to solve his murder.

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



  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Humeston New Era, September 9, 1914.
  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Oelwein Daily Register, September 19, 1914.
  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Spirit Lake Beacon, September 10, 1914.
  • ☛ “Murder Still Remains Mystery,” Waterloo Evening Courier, September 2, 1914.
  • ☛ “Murder Still Unsolved,” Cedar Rapids Republican, September 3, 1914.

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