Valentine Death: Murder of Catherine Decora 1965

Murder Victim

Catherine Decora
(Katherine DeKora)
Cause of Death: Beaten
Motive: Drinking Party Gone Wrong

Murder Scene and Date

Kenneth Taylor Residence
Sioux City, Iowa
Woodbury County
February 14, 1965


By Nancy Bowers
Written June 2010

location of Sioux City, Iowa

location of Sioux City, Iowa

The Valentine’s Day 1965 death of 48-year-old Catherine Decora — also known as Katherine DeKora — in Sioux City, Iowa, was the result of alcohol, violence, and — tragically — good intentions gone wrong.

On Friday night, February 13, Catherine attended what newspapers described as “a drinking party” at the home of 63-year-old Kenneth Taylor.

She left and then came back to his door bleeding and asking for help after someone beat her severely in the alley outside Taylor’s home.

Kenneth Taylor took Catherine inside and put her on a cot to rest. Neither of them realized how badly she was hurt.

To keep her warm, Taylor started a fire in a kerosene stove nearby. Catherine fell off the cot and knocked over the stove, which exploded and started a small fire.

from the Carroll Daily Times Herald

When firefighters arrived, Catherine was on the cot barely alive. She died at a hospital several hours later from shock caused by her injuries.

Woodbury County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Coriden said that bruises and contusions covered Catherine’s body, both wrists were shattered, and there was an 8-inch cut on her head.

Lacking specific evidence on an assailant, Woodbury County Attorney Edward Samore did not file charges in the death; and Catherine Decora’s brutal murder is still unsolved.

☛ Catherine Decora’s Life ☚

Catherine Decora was born December 15, 1917 to Ho Chunk Tribe members Louisa Big Bear and Charles E. Decora on the Winnebago Reservation in Thurston County in northeastern Nebraska.

Catherine was descended from the famous Native American Chief Waukon Decorah, who gave his names to two Iowa cities.

She had three siblings — Ruth, Elliot, and Ward Lewis Decora. Although newspaper accounts of the time referred to her as “Mrs.,” there is no indication Catherine was married.

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



  • ☛ “No Beating Charge Filed,” Estherville Daily News, February 15, 1965.
  • ☛ “Sioux City Woman Dies After Attack,” Carroll Daily Times Herald, February 15, 1965.
  • ☛ “These Iowa Murders Still Defy Experts,” Waterloo Daily Courier, May 27, 1965.
  • ☛ “Unsolved Slayings Climbing in Iowa, Cedar Rapids Gazette,” May 26, 1965.
  • ☛ U.S. Census.

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