The Mysterious Disappearance Of Jodi Huisentruit Explained

On Tuesday, June 27, 1995, Jodi Huisentruit was expected to arrive at the KIMT-TV studio in Mason City, Iowa, where she worked as a morning news anchor at 3:00 a.m. When she did not arrive at work on time, her producer, Amy Kuns, assumed she had simply overslept. As reported by Find Jodi, Kuns called to check on her colleague at approximately 4:00 a.m. Huisentruit answered the call and confirmed she had, in fact, overslept and would be at the studio as soon as possible. According to Find Jodi, Huisentruit lived approximately 1 mile from her workplace, and it took approximately five minutes to drive from her apartment to the KIMT-TV studio. However, she never arrived and was never seen or heard from again.

Amy Kuns became alarmed when Huisentruit had not arrived at the studio by 5:00 a.m. and again attempted to reach her by telephone. Unfortunately, the call went unanswered. Although it was unlike her colleague to miss a newscast, Kuns realized Huisentruit would not make it for the 6:00 a.m. show and went on to anchor the hour-long newscast without her colleague. Kuns called authorities and requested a welfare check at 7:00 a.m., as Huisentruit was still missing at the conclusion of the newscast.

The Mason City Police Department arrived at the Key apartment complex at 7:16 a.m. and immediately found evidence suggesting Huisentruit was abducted in the parking lot before she even made it into her car.

Jodi Huisentruit vanished between her apartment door and her car

Authorities noted Jodi Huisentruit's red Mazda Miata was parked immediately outside the news anchor's apartment building. Several items, which were later confirmed to belong to Huisentruit, were found scattered on the ground near the car. These include a hairdryer, a pair of red high-heeled shoes, a pair of gold earrings, and her car key, which was bent. As reported by Find Jodi, authorities also found what looked like drag marks on the pavement and what was eventually determined to be a partial palm print on Huisentruit's car.

A subsequent search of Huisentruit's apartment did not provide any further evidence of what may have happened to the missing woman. 105FM reports Lt. Frank Stearns did note the toilet seat was found in a raised position and, as Huisentruit lived alone, authorities had questioned whether she may have had a male guest. However, MCPD Chief Jack Schlieper later clarified, "Police ... found no evidence that anyone was with her prior to her disappearance."

Law enforcement officials interviewed Huisentruit's neighbors to determine whether anyone heard or saw anything unusual that morning or the previous evening. According to Find Jodi, several neighbors reported hearing someone scream at approximately 4:30 a.m., which is the time authorities estimate Huisentruit was abducted. Another neighbor reported seeing a white or light-colored van in the parking lot outside Huisentruit's apartment building at around the same time.

Jodi Huisentruit's close friend became a person of interest

While authorities were investigating the scene, a man named John Vansice showed up at the apartment complex and told the officers he had spent time with Jodi Huisentruit the previous evening. As reported by 105FM, Vansice said the missing woman stopped by his apartment to watch a videotape of her surprise birthday party, which occurred on June 10. Vansice said Huisentruit left his apartment and went home immediately after watching the 18-minute video.

Vansice became an early person of interest in the case, as he and Huisentruit had a close friendship, and he was presumably the last person to see her alive. In addition to helping plan Huisentruit's surprise birthday party, Vansice spent a lot of time with the missing woman in the weeks prior to her disappearance. According to 105FM, Huisentruit, Vansice, and several friends, spent the weekend of June 17 and 18 at Clear Lake, where they went boating together. On the weekend of June 23 through the 25, Huisentruit and Vansice joined their friends for a water skiing trip in Iowa City.

Although there has been much speculation about the nature of the relationship between Huisentruit and Vansice, authorities have not found any information indicating the two were romantically involved. 105FM reports Vansice was 22 years older than Huisentruit, and he has denied having anything other than a close friendship with the younger woman. He also contends he consented to a polygraph examination, which he claims he passed with "flying colors."

Jodi Huisentruit may have had a stalker

Jodi Huisentruit's journal, which was found in her apartment, confirmed John Vansice's assertion that he and the news anchor were only friends. Although 105FM reports Huisentruit mentioned Vansice in her journal, she never suggested their relationship was romantic in any way.

Despite having little evidence to suggest otherwise, authorities considered Vansice as a person of interest in Huisentruit's disappearance as many as 22 years after she vanished. In March 2017, Vansice was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and was directed to submit to DNA testing and provide his finger and handprints. However, no arrests were made in relation to the results of those tests. That same month, authorities placed GPS tracking devices on two of Vanisice's vehicles. However, Police Chief Jeff Brinkley confirmed the devices did not record any incriminating evidence.

Authorities have also explored reports that Huisentruit may have been stalked in the months leading up to her disappearance. According to Find Jodi, Huisentruit filed a report with the Mason City Police Department in October 1994 claiming she was being followed by someone in a small white pickup truck and was concerned for her safety. However, law enforcement officials were unable to find the truck or identify the driver. In the months before she vanished, Huisentruit also told a self-defense instructor and several friends that she feared she was being followed. 

Two convicted sex offenders lived in Jodi Huisentruit's neighborhood

As reported by Find Jodi, it would not have been difficult for anyone to find Jodi Huisentruit's home address, as it was listed in the public phone directory. She also followed a fairly regular schedule, as she worked Monday through Friday and left for work at the same time every morning. She was also open about discussing her evening and weekend plans during her news broadcasts.

Two other persons of interest in Huisentruit's disappearance were Tom Corscadden and Tony Jackson. 105FM reports both men were convicted sex offenders and were in the general area when Huisentruit vanished. Corscadden and Jackson were both eventually arrested and jailed on unrelated charges. 

Following Jackson's arrest, a jailhouse informant named Dennis Goff said Jackson confessed to him that he abducted and killed Huisentruit. According to ABC News, Goff also said Jackson wrote a rap song about the news anchor's death and where her body may have been buried. Still, Jackson has vehemently denied any involvement in Huisentruit's disappearance. In a 2022 interview, he said he "did not kill Jodi Huisentruit or, in any way, [have] anything to do with whatever is going on with her demise."

105FM reports authorities thoroughly investigated claims about Corscadden's and Jackson's involvement in Huisentruit's disappearance and ultimately ruled out both men as suspects. With little evidence and few leads, Huisentruit's family came to the heartbreaking conclusion that she simply was not going to be found. 

No trace of Jodi Huisentruit was ever found

According to 105FM, the missing news anchor was officially declared dead in 2001. However, authorities and her family have not given up on finding the person or persons responsible for her disappearance and presumed murder.

In recent years, authorities began taking a closer look at a man named Jerry Burns, who was arrested and convicted in the 1979 abduction and murder of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko. As reported by CBS News, Burns was not arrested until 2018, when DNA evidence confirmed he was responsible for Martinko's death. While being questioned about Martinko's case, Burns reportedly began talking about Jodi Huisentruit's unsolved disappearance.

Burns did not admit any involvement in Huisentruit's disappearance. However, authorities noted several disturbing similarities between Huisentruit and Martinko, including the young women's appearance and the fact that they were both abducted from parking lots. At this time, authorities have not named Burns as a person of interest or a suspect in Huisentruit's case.

In January 2022, an episode of ABC's "20/20" raised renewed interest in Huisentruit's unsolved disappearance. According to Find Jodi, the two-hour episode included interviews with current and former members of the Mason City Police Department, journalists, and podcasters. The episode also included an interview with Tony Jackson, who was a person of interest in the case.