Struck Down: Murder of Frank Sandquist 1904

Murder Victim

Frank J. Sandquist
44-year-old Shoemaker
Cause of Death: Unknown
Motive: Unknown

Murder Scene and Date

Alley Behind Sandquist Home
Storm Lake, Iowa
Buena Vista County
October 28, 1904


By Nancy Bowers
Written July 2014

location of Storm Lake, Iowa

location of Storm Lake, Iowa

On Friday night, October 28, 1904, Emma Sandquist found her 44-year-old husband Frank dead in an outhouse in the alley behind her Storm Lake home. Near the body was the victim’s closed pocketknife.

Contemporary newspaper reports of the case contained vague and general information about the death, never specifying the precise cause but nonetheless using terms like “foully murdered” and “struck down.”

Buena Vista County Coroner R.H. Parker convened a jury which deliberated three weeks before declaring that Sandquist “came to his death at the hands of some person or persons unknown.”

Although the coroner’s jury concluded that Frank Sandquist was violently killed, the Correctionville Sioux Valley News wrote about the perplexing case:

“The manner of the death of Sandquist is as much of a mystery as ever, and is still the subject of general discussion in this city.”

from the Emmetsburg Democrat

from the Emmetsburg Democrat

The State Chemist examined Sandquist’s stomach and found no sign of poison.

Pinkerton detectives and private investigators worked the case but could find almost no information about the death. A grand jury heard evidence as well.

Frank Sundquist's funeral was held at Lakeside Presbyterian Church

Frank Sundquist’s funeral was held at Lakeside Presbyterian Church

In February of 1905, Frank Sandquist’s 18-year-old daughter Mabel Caroline filed a suit against the Court of Honor to claim $2,000 in life insurance her father carried. The company contended that Sandquist killed himself; but because the coroner’s jury ruled he was murdered, they had an impossible task to prove their claim.

Frank Sandquist, a native of Sweden and a local shoemaker, was a popular resident of Storm Lake and his death was greatly mourned. His funeral at Lakeside Presbyterian Church was attended by so many  residents that 1,000 people had to stand outside.


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



  • ☛ “Crowd Honors Sandquist,” Rolfe Reveille, November 10, 1904.
  • ☛ Iowa Births and Christenings Index, 1857-1947.
  • ☛ Iowa Select Marriages, 1809-1992.
  • ☛ “Iowa State News,” Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, November 30, 1904.
  • ☛ “Local News,” Pocahontas County Sun, February 23, 1905.
  • ☛ “Sandquist Was Murdered,” Emmetsburg Democrat, December 7, 1904.
  • ☛ “Sandquist Was Murdered,” Correctionville Sioux Valley News, December 8, 1904.
  • ☛ “State News In Brief,” Waterloo Daily Reporter, November 21, 1905.
  • ☛ “Storm Lake,” Waterloo, Iowa, City Directory 1901.
  • ☛ “Wayside Gleanings,” Alton Democrat, November 5, 1904.

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