Disappearance/Murders of Five Cedar Rapids Teens Still Unsolved
December 19, 2018, on the 39th anniversary of the murder of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko of Cedar Rapids, police announced they made an arrest. Jerry Lynn Burns of Manchester has been charged with First Degree Murder in her death. His trial is scheduled for later this year. The murders and/or disappearances of five other teenage girls from Cedar Rapids remain unsolved... part of a lengthy list of Iowa Cold Cases here in Cedar Rapids.
The most recent disappearance occurred on June 3, 2001. 15-year-old Erin Pospisil of Cedar Rapids left her home that day with Curtis Padgett, a friend of her brother's. Padgett later told authorities after dropping her off at a friend's house and not getting an answer at the door, she spoke briefly with people in a black Chevy Cavalier. He told police that Pospisil then got into the Cavalier, after telling Padgett she was going to get a ride from them. No witnesses have reported seeing the pickup Padgett was driving, or a black Cavalier, in the neighborhood that night. The search for Erin continues.
14-year-old Wanda and her sister, Tammi, had traveled to Washington, DC in early June of 1976 with their mother, Nancy. During the trip, they met a boy named "Joseph." On July 28, 1976, the two sisters took their uncle's dog for a walk around lunchtime. Tammi told police that at some point during the walk she turned to say something to Wanda and she wasn't there. Wanda's decomposed body was found near a campground north of Tucson, Arizona on September 6, 1976. She had died of multiple stab wounds to her neck.
A waitress at Weida's Restaurant, the recently married 17-year-old Maureen Farley had moved to Cedar Rapids after her husband was jailed at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Her family resided in Sioux City. Friday, September 17, 1971, she borrowed money to buy cigarettes. It was payday. However, Maureen never returned to pick up her check. When she didn't show up for work three days later, she was reported missing. Her body was found Friday, September 24, 1971, by two young hunters in a wooded ravine on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids. Fully clothed, but not wearing shoes, her body was found on the trunk of an abandoned vehicle. Her feet were clean. Farley had died of a "massive blow" to the right side of her head.
Paula Jean Oberbroeckling
18-year-old Paula Jean Oberbroeckling disappeared July 11, 1970. She had left her home in the 100 block of 10th St. NW early that morning after her roommate, Debbie Kellogg, and Debbie's boyfriend, Lonnie Bell, returned from a date. She took Kellogg's car but never came back. The vehicle was found the next day on 14th St SE, near an Eagle grocery store. The Oberbroeckling/Kellogg residence was only two miles away. Paula's mother, Carol, reportedly told police her daughter was upset because she believed she was pregnant and Bell was "trying to ditch her." Oberbroeckling's body was found November 29, 1970, along Otis Road NE, near the railroad tracks. Her ankles and wrists were tied. An autopsy, completed by Dr. Earl Rose at the University of Iowa Hospitals stated "Death due to (1) soft tissue injury, (2) poisoning, (3) asphyxiation, or (4) a combination of these, cannot be excluded from the examination of the remains of the body.”
Marlene Ruth Padfield
The 17-year-old was last seen alive February 19, 1959. Marlene Ruth Padfield of Lisbon had gone to the Kozy Inn restaurant in Cedar Rapids with Arthur Scott, Jr. the evening before. They left shortly after midnight. Her partially clothed body was found on a dirt road west of Mt. Vernon on April 29, 1959. An autopsy was conducted, but the results were never announced due to the ongoing investigation. Padfield had hoped to become an actress and had moved to Cedar Rapids to chase her dream. Only around 15 people reportedly attended her funeral.
There are many other murders and/or disappearances of Cedar Rapids residents that remain unsolved. More than 30 in all. You can see the details on each here. We continue to hope for answers to long unanswered questions, and justice for all of them.