Episode 107

Missing Jodi Huisentruit

September 13, 2021   Tags: , ,
Apple Podcasts
27-year-old Jodi Huisentruit was anchor in Mason City, Iowa. On June 27th, 1995, Jodi was running late for her shift at 3 AM. When police arrived at her apartment building, Jodi's car and some of her belongings were in the parking lot. But there has been no sign of Jodi since. Caroline Lowe from Find Jodi join Billy and Paul to talk about the case. 

Leading Up to the Disappearance:
The weekend of June 23rd, Jodi, John, Tammy and Ani went to Iowa City for a water skiing trip. John Vansice--who was 22 years older than Jodi--had a son in college there. The group stayed in John’s son’s apartment while they were in town.

Tammy noticed that Jodi and John were spending more time together. Tammy asked her about it. Jodi insisted they weren’t involved. But even Jodi’s sister thought John was interested in Jodi. He even told people he named his boat after her.  

Jodi wrote about the trip in her journal when she got home on Sunday, June 25th. “Got home from a weekend road trip to Iowa City--oh we had fun! It was wild, partying, and water skiing. We skied at Coralville Res. I’m improving on the skis--hips up, lean, etc. John’s son Trent gave me some great ski tip advice. Today, Sunday, it was raining in Mason City so didn’t get any skiing in. I love it, it’s addicting. Great friends but professionally, I’m fed up. It’s difficult finding a new job and I’m confused about agent and what to do.” 

Even being fed up, Jodi anchored the morning news at 6 AM Monday morning. After the broadcast was done she attended the Mason City Chamber of Commerce golf tournament at the Mason City Country Club for the station. 

After playing golf, she went home and changed clothes. Jodi returned to the country club around 3:30 PM. She socialized at the awards dinner. Two of the golfers remember Jodi mentioning possibly needing to change her phone number. She said she’d been receiving “nasty” and “naughty” phone calls. Jodi didn’t go into detail about what might of made the calls. 

She headed home around 8PM and called her friend Kelly at 8:24 PM. Kelly wasn’t at home but Jodi talked to her husband for a few minutes. Then at some point after that Jodi went over to John’s to watch the video they took of her birthday party. John isn’t sure what time that was--but told the local news it was around 9:30 to 10:30. He said Jodi then went home. 

The next day at 3 AM, Jodi was supposed to be at the station to start her shift. When she didn’t show, her producer Amy Kuns called her at 4 AM. Jodi had overslept. It had happened occasionally before. Jodi told Amy she’d be there ASAP.  The other times Jodi was late, she was at the station by 4:20.

But Jodi never arrived at the station. Amy finished the newscast. She asked one of her co-workers to call the police and do a welfare check on Jodi.

The Disappearance:
The Mason City Police Department arrived at Jodi’s apartment at 7:16 AM. Jodi’s apartment was in building C on the second floor. Just 12 feet from the building, Jody’s red convertible 1991 Mazda Miata was still in the parking lot. 

Her car key was found near the car--and it was bent. Jodi’s red leather heels were in the parking lot along with her blow dryer, hairspray and earrings. It looked like there were drag marks on the pavement. But Jodi’s purse, makeup kit, and briefcase weren’t at the scene. 

There was very little physical evidence at the scene. A partial palm print was on the car. A strand of hair was recovered, but it’s not clear where the hair was found. The car had no sign that the abductor ever entered the car. 

With no sign of Jodi in the parking lot, the police went to search her apartment. The second floor apartment showed no signs of struggle. Jodi’s bed was made. Some reports had mentioned beer cans in the sink, but the building manager said this wasn’t true. 

The only item out of place was the toilet seat. It was lifted. 

Mason City Police also spoke to Jodi’s neighbors. One thought they heard a scream around 4:30 AM. But they didn’t call the authorities. Another neighbor reported seeing a white van in the parking lot when he left for work around that same time. The man said the van looked like a 1980’s Ford Econoline van and it thought he looked as if it belonged to a police officer. 

The Investigation:
Mason City Police Department searched the area of Jodi’s apartment complex. It had three buildings that sat in a “U” shape. Jodi’s was to the left. Behind the middle building was a wooded area that led to the East Park campground. The Winnebago River also went through the park.

The campground had a Civil War Reenactment the weekend before Jodi disappeared. Police contacted the people who were logged in as staying, but there may have been others. 

While the law enforcement was searching for Jodi, her friend John Vansice showed up. He’d been out walking. He told the officers he had seen Jodi the night before. Vansice also told investigators about the water skiing trip. The police asked him to bring the video to the station. 

Investigators asked about his whereabouts that morning. Vansice said he was home. His friend Ladonna called him at home at 6 AM on his landline to confirm their morning walk. During the interview he was asked to provide a palmprint, which he did. He was also given a polygraph. The results were never reported. 

Ladonna also met with police. She confirmed she’d spoken with Vansice at 6 AM. She was asked about his demeanor on the walk. She said he didn’t seem anxious. Ladonna said he’d mentioned Jodi had stopped by the night before on the walk. 

Detectives continued to look into Jodi’s personal life. But they also had to consider Jodi’s job. She was the local anchor and in the public eye. Just the day before her disappearance, she had mentioned those “nasty” phone calls. 

And there were at least two other circumstances where Jodi felt uncomfortable and thought she was possibly being stalked. On October 8th at 6:44 PM, she’d called the police. She’d been on a run and there was a person in a small, newer white truck following her. 

The officer who took the report gave Jodi advice on how to stay safe. He advised carrying mace and self defense classes. She did begin to take those classes. The month before her disappearance, Jodi mentioned to her instructor that she thought she was being followed.

In 2019, John Vansice denied any involvement in Jodi’s disappearance. 

Currently there are no active persons of interest in Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance. Jodi disappeared from outside her apartment in Mason City, Iowa, sometime between 4 and 4:30 AM on June 27th, 1995. It’s unknown what she was wearing at the time. She was 5’3” to 5’4” and 110 to 120 pounds. She had blonde hair and brown eyes. 

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