Strangled With His Own Necktie: Murder of David Faulkner 1920

Murder Victim

David A. Faulkner
30-year-old Receiving Clerk
Iowa Packing Company
Cause of Death: Strangled
Motive: Grudge

Murder Scene and Date

2416 E. Lyon Street
Des Moines, Iowa
Polk County
May 1, 1920


By Nancy Bowers
Written September 2010

from the Oskaloosa Daily Herald

On Saturday afternoon, May 1, 1920, 30-year-old Des Moines resident David Faulkner, a receiving clerk at Iowa Packing Company, chatted with friends in an Eastside barbershop while he got a shave. He told them he was going to purchase some gas pipe on his way home to 2416 E. Lyon Street.

That evening, Faulkner stayed behind while his wife attended a movie with neighbors.

Faulkner’s wife said that when she returned about 1:00 a.m., she found him dead on the floor.

Someone came up behind Faulkner as he was reading and grabbed the ends of his necktie and tied them tightly at the back of his head and then crushed his skull with a blunt instrument.

Des Moines Police told the Des Moines Daily News they believed Faulkner was killed by a “personal enemy” with a “grudge” or “some imagined wrong” who took 25 dollars from the victim’s pockets and ransacked the house to make the murder look like a robbery gone bad. The basis of this theory was that Faulkner’s gold watch was not taken.

Murder Goes Cold

Detective Jack Brophy (photo Des Moines Police)

In 1920, there were five homicides in Des Moines. The only one not solved was David Faulkner’s. Police said they lacked “tangible clues” in the case.

Chief of Detectives Jack Brophy attributed so few murders in Des Moines — compared to larger cities where murders averaged two per week — on the “lack of the foreign element.”

Detective Brophy told Des Moines News reporter Bruce Cole:

“In manufacturing centers where large numbers of southern Europeans are employed, their hot blood, together with their wine and quick passions, result in many killings. When the American feels like fighting he wants to use his fists, but with these people a fight calls for a weapon and a weapon usually causes fatalities.”

☛ David Faulkner’s Life ☚

David Faulkner murder house (courtesy Google Street View)

David A. Faulkner was born in Prarie City, Iowa, in December 1899 to Francis Rachel Thrash and harness maker Jonathon D. Faulkner.

Before moving to Des Moines, the Faulkner family lived at Sugar Creek in Poweshiek County and in Oskaloosa. He had two brothers — Warren Jonathan Faulkner and Clyde C. Faulkner — as well as a sister, Mary Elizabeth Faulkner Mitchell.

David Faulkner, was survived by his wife .

Funeral Services were held at Lilly Undertaking Parlor on May 8 and Faulkner was buried in Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.

☛ Another Family Member is Murdered ☚

Thaddeus Mitchell

On December 7, 1922, Thaddeus Mitchell — David Faulkner’s brother-in-law and husband of his sister Mary Elizabeth — was shot to death on St. Joseph Avenue near 20th Street. Mitchell was a taxi driver and was likely murdered by one of his fares. Mitchell’s murder, too, is unsolved.

Click here to read about Thaddeus Mitchell’s 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.



  • ☛ “Air of Secrecy Marks Mitchell Murder Search,” Des Moines Capital, December 12, 1922.
  • ☛ “David A. Faulkner,” Des Moines Daily News, May 8, 1920.
  • ☛ “Five Murders In Last Year Is Des Moines Lowest Record,” Des Moines News, December 12, 1920.
  • ☛ “Increase Reward In Mitchell Case,” Des Moines Capital, December 22, 1992.
  • ☛ “Mitchell Murder May Join Ranks of Unsolved Crimes,” Des Moines Capital, December 10, 1922.
  • ☛ “Murdered In Home,” Oskaloosa Daily Herald, May 5, 1920.
  • ☛ “O.R. Richart, Mitchell Chum Also Missing,” Des Moines Capital, December 8, 1922.
  • ☛ “Probe Murder,” Des Moines Daily News, May 3, 1920.
  • ☛ “State Joins Taxi Murder Investigation,” Des Moines Capital, December 10, 1922.
  • ☛ “Taxi Driver Slain In ‘Spooners’ Lane,’” Des Moines Capital, December 8, 1922.
  • ☛ U.S.Census.f

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