Missing, but not forgotten; Police still hope to solve cold cases
The Iowa Department of Public Safety's Missing Person's Bulletin includes more than 300 names of people considered missing in the state.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
There are more than 300 people considered "missing' in the state of Iowa. They come from all walks of life, from kids to the elderly.
Captain Lisa Claeys has worked a lot of cases during her 30 years on the Sioux City Police Department.
Claeys said, "It's just got to be difficult for family. It's got to be horribly difficult."
As Commander of the Investigative Services Bureau, she's in charge of Sioux City's missing persons cases.
"Obviously people are missing until they're found alive or dead. So they're still on the books as missing," Claeys said.
On any given day, there are dozens of people from Sioux City listed on the Iowa Missing Persons Bulletin. Some are teens who may have recently runaway. Others disappeared 30 years ago.
February 14, 1983, was the last time Maurice Kneifl was seen alive. The 58-year-old owned Fethke Cleaners which used to be located at 1209 West 26th street.
Kneifl was reported missing after he didn't show up to bring his longtime girlfriend to work. He drove a dark brown Cadillac Fleetwood. That wasn't found either.
"For a person to disappear is one thing. For a car to disappear, especially a quality car, and to never turn up, is very unusual," said Capt. Claeys. "They actually dragged the river, areas of the river the first few weeks and found nothing."
Claeys believes he was killed.
"Many of us, although it's not classified as such, believe that it in fact was a homicide. The body's gone and the car's gone," she said.
Kenneth Harker's mother reported him missing on October 9, 1996. The 34-year-old's vehicle was found abandoned on a gravel road, K-42 in Plymouth County. Despite several searches there was no sign of Harker.
Claeys said, "He was having problems with an individual and the last he spoke with his mother he was going over to meet that person. So that was our person of interest and still remains to be our person of interest."
There's also the case of 83-year-old Helen Kelly. She disappeared on May 18, 2005. It was two weeks shy of her 58th wedding anniversary. About 8:00am, Helen's husband Arthur woke up inside their home at 3646 Court street to find her gone. There's been no sign of her or her car since.
"She was suffering from some early dementia or early Alzheimer's so there was that possibility that she had just driven off and gone too far and didn't know where she was at and didn't know how to get back," said Claeys.
Some believe there could be clues in the Missouri River. However, Claeys said cars are too heavy to travel far in the river, even with the strong current. And after record flooding and record low water levels because of the drought, there's still been no sign of vehicles in the river.
Claeys said, "Nothing's ever turned up. Not in the Big Sioux, not in the Missouri."
And so they wait. Wait for a tip or a clue, some sort of evidence to emerge to solve a cold case. At the same time keeping focused on the young ones who may have chosen to go "missing" on their own.
Claeys said, "When somebody's missing, somebody's missing. I don't care if it's someone that's run 15 times before. They are just as big a concern for us."
The Iowa Department of Public Safety posts names of people who've been missing for more than 30 days. Click here to be connected to the Missing Persons Bulletin.