Crime in Iowa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Young Men in the River

During the past couple decades there have been a number of young men who have disappeared after visiting a bar that have been found later in a river. It has happened in Wisconsin, Minnesota and other locations throughout the midwest. There has been speculated that a serial killer could be involved since there are so many commin elements. Several web pages around the net talk in depth about the phenomenah so I won't go into depth. If you want to read more check this out:
Drowning in Coincidence
Thread on Court TV site

I bring this up because another young man who went missing on Christmas eve was found on March 18th, 2006 in the Mississippi river. Matthew Kruziki was last seen in a tavern in East Dubuque, Illinois.

He was seen last by a police officer who told him to return to the hotel where he and the friend were staying across the river in Dubuque, Iowa. The two were reportedly on their way to Des Moines, Iowa, to pick up Kruziki's impounded vehicle.

Matthew was the son of a U.S. Marshall and lived in Hartford, Wisconsin. Matthew and his buddy went to "The River Queen Lounge" to party. After running up his tab Matthew and the bartender got into a disagreement and he was asked to leave the bar. His buddy stayed behind. Matthew returned later that evening to retrieve his coat but he was not allowed to enter. The last time anyone saw Matthew was when he went back into the 20 degree weather without his coat.

His body was discovered by an sea-plane pilot who was practicing take-offs and landings and spotted his body in the water.

An autopsy may or may not indicate whether foul play was involved.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Annamarie Rittman

Annamarie Rittman,46, was walking into the Altoona Lowes in the early cold morning of December 27,2005. She never made it inside. When she was found around 6 a.m. it was assumed that she had fallen on the ice but when the police arrived it was determined that she had been hit by a vehicle and was struck from behind. She later died after arriving at the hospital.

Mrs. Rittman was the mother of three.

After reviewing the store videotape it was found that she had been hit by a red four-door Ford truck. Efforts were made to analyze the video tape in an attempt to read the license plate on the truck, which proved difficult. The police also followed up on tips that were phoned in.

By January 11th there was a $4,500 award offered for any information leading to the truck or its driver. Later it was increased to $11,500. By January 17th the police had found the truck that they believe was involved. The truck was impounded while they tried to figure out who was driving the truck.

Yesterday an arrest was finally made. Justin Andrew Pollard of Altoona is charged with first degree murder and held on $250,000 cash bond. It surprised many that the charge would be 1st degree which implies intent. The Iowa Code states that first degree murder is an act done "willfully, deliberately and with premeditation". Apparently the video tape showed enough to prove that it was an intentional act. It was also determined that Pollard and Rittman did not know each other. Mr Pollard was arrested at his job and has made no statements.

Brian Rittman, Annamarie's husband was quoted as saying
"Isn't that something, to be premeditated? To have that going through his mind and thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to run this woman over,' and not knowing who in the hell she was. Just devastating,"

Special Agent John Quinn of the Iowa DCI says Pollard intentionally hit the woman and then left the scene. Authorities claim that he used his truck as a weapon to kill Rittman as she walked into work.

Mr. Pollard is an Iraq War Veteran and new father. He served with the U.S. Army Reserve 339th Military Police company based in Davenport. He married Emily White last summer and their daughter was born in early December 2005.

As of this writing Pollard has pleaded not guilty.

Its reported that Iowa has one of the weakest laws regarding hit and run accidents. There is currently movement in the Iowa legislature to strengthen penalites. The proposal would make it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine for fleeing an accident where a death is involved.

UPDATE 3/14/06
New developments include an eye witness that says he saw a red truck driving around the Lowe's lot several times during the weeks before Rittman was killed. Also Pollard says he clocked into work that day at 5:31 am. Rittman was found at 6:05 am and its speculated she lay there for approximately 40 minutes. The reason for the murder charge is that the Police think the driver had to turn around to hit Rittman from behind. Pollards wife says the dent in the truck happened about a week after the vehicle was purchased in June and that he was never at the accident scene.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Crime links

The cities of Urbandale, Clive and West Des Moines have created a website to track local crime. Crimeview You can select the type of crime, the location and up to 90 days in the past. I did a search of assaults within the boundary of the city of Clive for the past 90 days. I found a total of 8 assaults. Unfortunately when I tried to get detail I got errors saying the query "could not be located". We'll give them time to get the bugs out.

Here's what you need to know about Operating While Intoxicated in Iowa.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

He's just misunderstood
LEON, Iowa - Feb. 24, 2006 (UPI) -- An Iowa sex offender who belongs to a church that believes electricity is evil has asked a judge to exempt him from wearing an electronic monitor.

Scott Smith was given a short jail sentence and five years probation for molesting two teenage girls in 2003. At the time, he was a member of the Brotherhood of Christ and his wife and children still belong to the group.

Ok he was a member AT THE TIME, and is still a member. Doesn't that cancel out?

At a hearing Thursday, Ron Livingston, leader of the Brotherhood, testified that the group believes literally that electricity can cause people to disobey God, the Des Moines Register reported. Livingston said an electronic monitor could harm Smith's children.

Smith has been refusing to wear the monitor. Judge Sherm Phipps could order him sent to prison or could grant him an exemption.

Send him to prison. It is his choice and I think he has lost the right to demand anything.

A social worker testified that she believes Smith is unlikely to commit another crime.

Geez, where have I heard that before?

The man molested TWO girls and received what the paper calls a short prison term. According to the state of Iowa's court system records he was fined $500 and given one year of jail which was suspended. He was put on probation with 5 other counts dismissed. Ten years earlier(7/1/93) he was charged and FOUND GUILTY of Sexual abuse in the 3rd degree. He was fined $1,000 and given a 10 year prison sentence which the judge then suspended. He was put on probation. He also had several other charges dismissed over the years namely driving while intoxicated, driving on the wrong side of a two way highway, and interference with official acts.

The scary thing is he is allowed to live with his children. Are they safe?

The Kind You Dont Take Home to Mother

I saw the following article this morning and tried to see what I could find out about Joseph Dewayne Titus. I found an obituary for Joseph Titus age 76 from Muscatine last July. Its possible that given his namesake and location that this was his grandfather. Two of his children live in Muscatine and could possibly be young Josephs parents. If young Joseph still lived with his folks, I can't imagine how they could NOT know about the explosives in the home. Since he is 17 and the school is his FORMER school, its possible he was kicked out of school or he simply dropped out. One source says that he has not been a student for at least three years.

It seems he was tracked down by his email address when a girl from Knoxville, Illinois tipped off the police that March 2nd was the day the threat would be carried out.

Let's hope they can charge him as an adult.

Des Moines Register Article

Muscatine, Ia. — A teenager was arrested Wednesday after police found explosives in his home that they believe were meant to blow up Muscatine High School.

Joseph Titus, 17, had allegedly mentioned his plans to destroy his former school during an Internet chat with a female, who reported him to police.

Officers searched his home Wednesday morning and found homemade explosives and other ignitable materials. They charged him with threats of terrorism and threat of arson, both class D felonies.

The female who reported Titus told police he planned to destroy the school Thursday.

Muscatine Police Chief Gary Coderoni would not reveal details of the threat. Police said several spiral notebooks filled with white supremacy graffiti and writings were seized, along with Titus’ computer.

THe news is reporting that Titus dropped out of Muscatine High School a year ago and has a lengthy criminal history. He lives with his parents.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Arnold Sansgaard

This crime occurred about 20 miles from where I lived at the time. I don't even remember hearing about it. I do know that there have been several unsolved cases along the middle part of the state where Interstate 35 is:

"On July 22, 1984, the body of Arnold Sansgaard was found in his rural farm home near Story City, Iowa.
The investigation revealed that Sansgaard died from stab wounds to his chest.
An unknown suspect was driving Sansgaard's vehicle and stopped by a law enforcement officer in Chisago County, Minnesota (approximately 40 miles north of Minneapolis). During the stop, the suspect used Sansgaard's name and checkbook for identification. The suspect gave a date of birth of 10/12/47 and indications that he may have had a mental condition or been under the influence of drugs. The suspect was described as being approximately 6'3" tall and having very severe burn scars on his right arm and possibly neck area which the suspect claimed were the result of a flame thrower in Vietnam. The suspect spoke slowly with a possible southern accent and talked of visiting the Veterans Administration Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, and other VA hospitals.

On July 23, 1984, Police found Sansgaard's vehicle abandoned in a Catholic Church parking lot in Effingham, Illinois."
Check out the link for a picture of the suspect

Iowa Crime

I live in a fairly comfortable town house complex. The units are rentable and there are a fair number of people moving in and out. Some neighbors you get to know and some live like they are part of the witness protection program.

I have one set of neighbors that I am convinced are New Jersey mafia on the run and laying low for awhile. The son, a white pasty looking teenager, sits around the pool fully clothed talking on his cell phone like a gang banger to his homies. He is really loud and we all have to listen to his attitude. The dad likes to wear plaid pants and white shoes. They drive a big old boat and the wife has real big hair. I know they ain't from here.

My other neighbors I have never seen. I've seen them pull into their garage but they put the door down as fast as they can. I've heard the husband(?) rattling around with his truck at 4:30 in the morning but he's not there very often that I can tell.

The other day my sister told me she read in the police blotter that one of my neighbors was arrested on outstanding warrants from another nearby county. I have been trying to figure out who it was. The place I live is not cheap and I kind of thought by living upscale I would feel safer. hmmm

Anyway I have a developing interest in missing persons, and true crime so I thought I would start a blog covering Iowa crime. The land of corn and soybeans can serve up some mighty curious lets begin....