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Retiring state representative says Bookmeyer, other Mason City officials stonewalled him in Huisentruit investigation


This news story was published on December 30, 2016.
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John Kooiker
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

BOYDEN, IOWA – A retiring state representative unleashed a scathing letter this week, criticizing Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and other current and former city officials for stonewalling his attempts to bring attention to the case of missing TV anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.

State Rep. John Kooiker is a retiring Republican state legislator in Western Iowa, who represented District 4 in the Iowa House of Representatives. According to nwestiowa.com, he is a retired farmer, educator and rural mail carrier and lives near Boyden, Iowa with his wife, Sheryl. He did not seek re-election in 2016.

Mr. Kooiker sent a letter this week to nwestiowa.com, reflecting on his time serving in Des Moines; however, much of his discussion gravitated to his work on the House Public Safety Committee and cold cases and – most specifically – the 1995 Jodi Huisentruit disappearance.  He described in his letter how Mayor Eric Bookmeyer “begged” him to back off and other “strange” reactions to his quest to help solve the tragic case.

Here’s his letter:

It’s been a privilege to serve in the Iowa State House of Representatives to fill the ninth term of my good friend Dwayne Alons, who passed away shortly after winning the November 2014 election.

I quickly realized what a benefit it is to have such diversity in the Iowa Statehouse. We all bring our experiences, joys, sorrows, biases and ideas to the assembly. The combination of the aforementioned, multiplied by a factor of 100, forms one of the greatest legislative bodies on Earth.

As a member of the House Public Safety Committee, I was appalled at the number of cold cases in our state and the current lack of a cohesive effort to solve them. (Note: There used to be a cold case investigative team within the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation several years ago, but it had to be dissolved due to budget priorities.)

So why would a legislator from Sioux County be interested in cold cases? I have had four experiences which galvanized my interest, and three occurred prior to my time in the Legislature.

The first was the 1981 disappearance of Adam Walsh, age 6, in Florida. At the time my wife, Sherry, and I had four children age 7 and under.

The second was the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling from rural Minnesota in 1989. He was the same age as my son Ben who is now a successful CPA in Sioux City. The similarities in appearance between Ben and Jacob are striking. This could have happened to us.

The third was the disappearance of TV reporter Jodi Huisentruit in Mason City in 1995. She was 27 at the time of her disappearance. I remember this event clearly as it occurred on June 27, which is the day between my birthday and our anniversary.

My daughter Bonnie, a Spanish teacher and interpreter in Omaha, passed away at age 27 of cancer in 2007. The physical similarities between Bonnie and Jodi were striking. I have experienced the death of a daughter, but I can only imagine how hard it would be to have a child just disappear.

The fourth was something I learned while sitting next to state Rep. Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton) during my time in the Legislature. Her two sisters were murdered in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite this pain in her life, Mary represents her constituents with passion and was very kind to my wife and me.

Three of the four tragedies cited above have been solved. In the spring of 2015 I was thinking of ways to draw attention to the high number of cold cases in Iowa. With the 20th anniversary of Jodi Huisentruit’s unsolved disappearance approaching, I saw an opportunity to augment the work being done by The REVIEW and other Iowa media in advancing the cause of solving this backlog of cold cases.

With the assistance of other legislators, I circulated a letter addressed to the city of Mason City asking them to recognize the 20th anniversary of Jodi’s disappearance and soliciting help in solving the case. All 100 state representatives signed the letter. I talked to one of Jodi’s sisters, and she had no objections.

Mason City area legislators offered to notify Mason City officials of the pending letter. That news elicited some rather strange reactions.

Chief Mike Lashbrook insisted that he did not want the letter to be sent to him or anybody else in Mason City.

Bookmeyer allegedly stonewalled a legislator attempting to bring closure to a tragic case of missing anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.

Mayor Eric Bookmeyer complied and vouched for what a wonderful job the chief had been doing and that he was close to retirement so he did not need this issue to come before the public and sully his record. The mayor begged me to withdraw the letter and was worried about putting too much pressure on the chief.

I was even accused of meddling and not respecting local control.

In particular, the mayor and the chief were upset at my plan to release it to the media. I proceeded to send the letter to the mayor and all six council members, but decided not to send it to the media. As far as I know, the letter was disregarded.

The chief’s mysterious reaction, manifested through the mayor, makes sense if the Mason City Police Department is mishandling this case. Indeed, I soon realized certain leads first filed in 2008 had been ignored for at least seven years.

I spoke with DCI director Jim Saunders. He explained that due to the complexity of this case, the Mason City Police Department was supposedly notifying Iowa DCI of all leads since 1995. But for reasons unknown, the Mason City Police Department concealed the 2008 leads from Iowa DCI until 2015.

Director Saunders assured me all leads would be investigated.

However, I was also informed that under Iowa law, the local police department owns the case. DCI is only available to assist and does not have enough resources to do so.

In 2016, I hoped the new chief would be more receptive so I sent him a certified letter on April 26. He did not respond. On Sept. 7 I was in Mason City for a funeral. Chief Eric Brinkley was unavailable at the time so I visited with Lt. Logan Wernet, who conveyed my concerns to chief Brinkley. Chief Brinkley did not call me back.

I still have not received assurance that all leads are being investigated.

Without jeopardizing the leads in question, I will simply say the Mason City Police Department seems to have an dubious lack of interest in following up on leads that could shed the light of day on Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance.

Generally, I would not describe myself as a person who is untrusting, but I have this gut feeling that something is being covered up in Mason City.

As in so many cold cases, eventually the case fades into oblivion for the public which is what the Mason City Police Department seems to be hoping for again. Sadly, the immediate family never forgets, and they continue to wonder what happened to their loved one.

I have 10 reasons for not seeking re-election in 2016: My 10 grandchildren who all live in Iowa. I want them to live in a state that cares about its citizens. It is my hope that the 87th Assembly and my colleagues and friends in both parties will continue the work of drawing attention to Iowa’s backlog of cold cases.

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60 Responses to Retiring state representative says Bookmeyer, other Mason City officials stonewalled him in Huisentruit investigation

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Here is the request from Iowa Legislature to designate a “Jodi Huisentruit Day” that was buried by the mayor, city council and chief of police:
    http://iasty6e9ii48tsj30lg3j17r.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/iowa-state-house-letter.pdf

  2. Avatar

    GH Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Matt- May I suggest that you keep this article on the front if your stories/pages until it gets the attention it deserves? Thank you.

  3. Avatar

    GH Reply Report comment

    January 3, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Is there anyone with integrity in the entire town?

  4. Avatar

    anonymight Reply Report comment

    January 2, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Kooiker’s letter is just goofy. It is filled with too much conjecture on his part to be taken seriously. I doubt he was sandbagged more likely he did not present any new evidence so what was the point? And what is there possibly to be gained by holding some sort of ‘Jodi’s abduction’ anniversary event? Nothing! Will the perpetrator suddenly come forward and confess? Don’t hold your breath. There is nothing there, except an excuse for NIT to take another swing at our city officials.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      January 2, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      You talk like you have something to hide.

  5. Avatar

    mint Reply Report comment

    January 2, 2017 at 1:00 am

    May well be genetics.

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    As a person who lost a loved one in Mason City, I know the Police are not doing their job. So many times they were given leads and they did nothing and never planned on doing anything to solve these cold cases. So much evidence and nothing ever done, makes you feel safe. NOT…. SO MANY YEARS HAVE GONE BY…

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

    MC/DC Pizzagate !!!!!

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 1, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Bookmeyer is a piece of sh*t. He’s not from here & he could care less about the citizens of Mason City. He’s a fat pompous ass.

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 1, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Strange, there is nothing about this on the GLOB. Could they possibly be protecting the Lord High Mayor?

    • Avatar

      anonymight Reply Report comment

      January 2, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      The Globe has journalistic standards against printing baseless crap. NIT has no standards.

      • NIT Publisher

        NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

        January 2, 2017 at 10:12 pm

        Guess you missed the part where this retiring state legislator’s letter was published in another newspaper, first.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2017 at 12:10 pm

        The GLOB has no standards and does nothing but lie and mis-represent.

  10. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 1, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Saaad but what else is new when bookmeyer is involved. Blood on his hands forever we know that also after 2016 You gross animal.
    Oh and crooked as a grizzlies dick is by far the most hilarious sentence of 16!

  11. Avatar

    Anonymous2 Reply Report comment

    December 31, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    So many young men, women, and children who “disappear” could easily have ended up in the human trafficking trade. Police are told to not concentrate on solving these cases as these instructions come from the most elite people who have the most control over our government. These are the wealthiest people, high ranking politicians, doctors, lawyers and judges. Mr. Bookmeyer was “begged” not to pursue the Jodi Huisentruitt case, This is one of the tell tale signs of the human trafficking trade.

    • Avatar

      anonymight Reply Report comment

      January 2, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      This comment is utterly preposterous.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 2, 2017 at 11:45 pm

        Dirty cop talk

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        January 3, 2017 at 8:11 am

        Makes sense. Knowing how Drunkmeyer is it is very believable.

  12. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 31, 2016 at 12:56 am

    I had heard about the stolen bikes and a white car seen on the bridge on Kentucky.
    I also know there are some people that think any involvement or cover-up by the MCPD is false, but why would the mayor plead not to have the letter sent? If there is no cover-up why not turn all tips and evidence over to DCI to have the case hopefully solved? Makes one scratch your head.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 31, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      I understand your point of view. Here’s mine: of the officers mentioned in the past, there’s no chance those guys would ever have worked together on anything, much less a murder. They hate each other, and agree on nothing. No way they’d work together on a thing like this, or anything if they could avoid it. The female officer involved with the church was involved because the cult-leader minister of that church was her brother-in-law who wanted a network TV show, like Joyce Meyer has. That’s where the real money for a minister is, and he wanted the notoriety to launch it. Haven’t seen his local show on KIMT for awhile, have you? I think the coverup is of early in the case screwups, a delay by the then-chief in calling the Feds because they didn’t want them to get the glory, and subsequent misbehavior by the first lead investigator toward some of the witnesses. Bookmeyer’s behavior is because he knows that the publicity will kill his downtown ice-arena plan, since who wants to invest in a town where murders go unsolved? He knows it will look bad on his resume, and kill economic development for the next 20 years, and he’s right.

  13. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    No new evidence. Like bookmire knows that. If skipper don’t write bookmire is afraid of it. Dumb comment from you

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Am I the only one that recognizes NIT’s talent for taking awesome pictures of Bookmeyer? Matt and crew always find his “good angle”

  15. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Hmm appears tha Mr Might does not want the case solved – shame on you.

  16. 12345678910guy

    12345678910guy Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Ahhh two sides to every story……but don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story…………

  17. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Whistle blowers are patriots – most of them carry and are smart enough to know how to handle liberal lying demorats.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 30, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      He can delete the comments but not his reputation.

  18. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I would have to say the number one piece of evidence stating that the investigation was done improperly, would have to be the fact that it is still unsolved!

  19. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    You may think it is crap and have a right to that opinion. That there are more questions than answers in this case, that’s for sure.

  20. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    The real story will never be told because several of MCPD were involved.

  21. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    NICT. North Iowa Conspiracy Theories.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 31, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Wow you must listen to Coast to Coast!

  22. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    23 Iowa Counties are SANCTUARY and do not cooperate with Federal ICE officials for deportation ? Nice EH ! Google it smartie !

    • Avatar

      Anonymous...... Reply Report comment

      December 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      What does this have to do with the Huisentruit investigation?

  23. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    I and MANY people in North Iowa believe this whole investigation by the Mason City Police Department was BOTCHED!!!! I feel there was a cover up but nobody in that department has the brains or the guts to come forth and make this right with her family, and so this case remains unsolved, so sad…….

  24. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 11:23 am

    4 felonies

  25. Avatar

    whatever Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:47 am

    If true this is very disturbing. The mayor and Council have no business interfering with any day to day operations of any city department. This Council needs to real in the mayor and put him in his place and leave the day to day operations to the professionals.

    • Avatar

      Judy IOOF Reply Report comment

      December 31, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Shocked and saddened to read this awful behavior by the mayor and others.

      • Avatar

        anonymight Reply Report comment

        January 2, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        Don’t believe the crap in this article, there was no inappropriate behavior by the mayor or council for crying out loud.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          January 2, 2017 at 11:47 pm

          Yes, the mayor is so upstanding. Said no one ever.

  26. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Remember that church affiliated gal that worked for the MCPD that was fired because she said that the MCPD was covering up facts/leads in this investigation. Wake up kool-aid drinkers – Hope this guy talks to her. WiKi leaks. ?

  27. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Roughly 1 week after Jodi’s disappearance I was working at Curries on an overtime Saturday. I ended up working with a kid that was working the summer help. He told me that the early morning Jodi disappeared he and another kid had stolen 2 bikes from campers in the campgrounds adjacent to the apartment complex. They left the campground and took the bike path that led east along river and up the hill right next to the bridge on Kentucky. The kid proceeds to tell me that when he got to the top of the hill and came out from the trees onto the sidewalk, he says to me “he got scared as f**k” because there was a white car parked right next to the bridge with a man sitting in the driver seat with a light blue hat on. He thought it was the police waiting for them. Moral of the story, if you are from Mason City, you know that nobody parks next to that bridge. And you also know that there is trees and brush right there, to possibly conceal the car from the apartment complex parked close to bridge. I called the police department directly, told them my story, told them to check and see if there was any reports of bicycles taken from campgrounds that night, to verify my story. They said the detective on the case would get back to me, NEVER HEARD A THING TO THIS DAY. I just wanted to have verification if there was bikes stolen that night, that could be some pretty strong proof that indeed there was a car parked next to the Kentucky bridge that night. Bad thing is I’m sure they have already made that report of the stolen bikes disappear by now…we will never know

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Careful you don’t end up like a Hillary whistle blower.

  28. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Old logan – the next chief – well groomed former anti narc undercover officer.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 30, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      He is a horrible officer; he should not be Chieft of Police

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 31, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      McKelvey’s a more likely choice. The chief needs to have a master’s degree, and Logan doesn’t.

  29. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:14 am

    This is like the auditor for NATO was going to bring up charges of corruption against people supplying weapons to the muzzies – he suicided himself and the put the gun back in the glove compartment. No bull ! -google it.

  30. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Interesting, but not really surprising. Drunk Bookmeyer is as crooked as a grizzly’s dick. And MCPD can hardly solve crimes that happen in front of them, let alone mysteries. They just don’t want it brought back up, and further embarrass them.

  31. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 10:09 am

    85% of all government could be and mostly likely are corrupt – they are like a gang protecting their own and screw the public.

    • Avatar

      Nada Racist Reply Report comment

      December 30, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      65% of all statistics are made up

  32. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Bookmeyer is a slimeball and the council are just a bunch of tools for him. I have hope for Paul but all the others should be voted out.

  33. Avatar

    Cecil Wrage Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Between cold cases and unprocessed rape kits, Seriously reduced nursing home inspections Branstad was destroying Iowa from within.. Thank God he is leaving..

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 30, 2016 at 9:49 am

      What does Branstad have to do with this?

      • Avatar

        bodacious Reply Report comment

        December 30, 2016 at 11:17 am

        I would imagine it is Terry’s willingness to cut budgets without regard to the consequences-the cold cases division in this case.

  34. Avatar

    Wanda kruse Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I have lived here in the Mason City area for the last 10 years. As I have found out through the hard knocks of life is you don’t mess with Mason city. It’s kind of interesting, rumors fly around and has it that the police force was involved in her disappearance. Mason city is the most corrupt group of people I have ever met. There way or no way. Very evil people.

  35. Avatar

    JH Reply Report comment

    December 30, 2016 at 9:29 am

    What a very disappointing, yet unsurprising letter to read. Mr. Bookmeyer needs to go, and he needs to go now.