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Investigators keep pushing for clues in TV anchor Jodi Huisentruit's 27-year disappearance

Lack of DNA evidence, the passage of time makes solving the 27-year-old mysterious disappearance more and more unlikely.

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Undated courtesy photo of Jodi Huisentruit. The 27-year-old Long Prairie, Minn., native was working as a morning TV news anchor in Mason City, Iowa, when she disappeared in 1995. During the early-morning hours of June 27, 1995, someone attacked Huisentruit as she was unlocking her red Mazda Miata in the parking lot of her apartment complex and dragged her into an unknown vehicle. She hasn't been seen since. Photo courtesy of FindJodi.com.
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MASON CITY, Iowa -- Few people are as intimately familiar with the details surrounding the mystery of television news anchor Jodi Huisentruit's disappearance as Scott Fuller.

Twenty-seven years later, the case has yet to be solved. And there are few signs it ever will be.

Fuller, a team member of FindJodi.com , a website devoted to keeping the memory of the case alive, doesn't say outright that the case won't ever be solved. But he is doubtful that it will ever be solved to the satisfaction of a court, given the lack of DNA evidence.

Yet there is such a larger-than-life "mythos" surrounding the unsolved mystery, particularly in Mason City where the young woman disappeared and where rumors and suspicions continue to swirl, that's it unlikely the case will ever be forgotten.

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Jodi Huisentruit was a morning anchor for KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa. Contributed / FindJodi.com

"We all want it to be solved," Fuller said. "I think we all believe that, first of all, it would have been solved had it occurred today. And there are things police could do that might aid in their investigation that they haven't tried yet."

Fuller and other team members, including family members, former journalists and a retired police officer, continue to work the case, almost on a daily basis.

For Fuller, an operations manager for KAUS AM and FM radio in Austin, the case has become personal as he has gotten to know Huisentruit's family and former colleagues.

"It does become a little bit personal. It's something of an obsessed hobby," he said.

Smart and outgoing, attractive and effervescent, Huisentruit was a well-known television news personality on KIMT-TV in Mason City, when she disappeared on June 27, 1995. She was scheduled to anchor the 6 a.m. news that day.

She had overslept and a producer had called her because she was late for work. As she went to her red Mazda Miata in the parking lot of Key Apartments, someone assaulted Huisentruit sometime after 4 a.m., police say. Neighbors said they heard a scream and saw a white van in the parking lot.

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Mason City, Iowa map
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Police believe Huisentruit was unlocking her car door when she was taken. A bent key lay on the ground near the Miata, and her red high heels, blow dryer, hair spray and earrings were strewn across the parking lot.

Fuller is certain that someone was lying in wait for Huisentruit when she exited her apartment. The distance between the anchor's apartment door and her car was a mere dozen feet or so, ruling out the possibility that the abduction resulted from some chance encounter.

"Somebody was there on that morning with the intention of at least talking to her or confronting her about something, if not planning an abduction," Fuller said.

Fuller said that Huisentruit may have been aware of being stalked in the days leading up to her disappearance. She had taken self-defense classes "for reasons that we've never fully uncovered." She reportedly told people the day before her disappearance that she was receiving harassing phone calls and was considering changing her phone number.

Unlike some cold cases that have been solved decades after the original crime was committed, the Huisentruit case has offered little in the way of physical or DNA evidence, at least as described by Mason City police. A hair was found at the scene, as well as a palm print on Huisentruit's car.

"Neither or both could be related to the crime," he said.

Two years ago, on the 25th anniversary of her disappearance, FindJodi.com team members, friends and family held a memorial for her in Mason City. They point to breakthroughs in other long dormant cases as reasons for hope. The disappearance of Jacob Wetterling in St. Joseph, Minn., remained a mystery for nearly 27 years, until his killer confessed to the crime as part of a plea deal.

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Mason City police continue to work the case, investigating leads as they come in. Over the years, they have interviewed people, but no one has been named as a suspect and no arrests have been made.

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A billboard campaign to help solve the mystery of Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance was launched May 30, 2018, in Mason City, Iowa. The morning TV news anchor disappeared in 1995. Courtesy of FindJodi.com via St. Paul Pioneer Press

Billboards appeal to the public to come forward with anything they know. One billboard put up in 2018 featured a picture of Huisentruit and the words "Someone knows something. Is it YOU?” One of the latest billboards says "Don't sit in silence ... The time to talk is now."

In addition to producing a series of podcasts on the case, Fuller continues to chase down leads and make records requests. He remains fueled by a sense of indignation and anger that Huisentruit's disappearance remains unsolved, that someone has gotten away with a crime.

So even if the hope is only a glimmer, Fuller hasn't given up yet.

"I think in order for it be solved to the satisfaction of everybody who's followed the case, it would have to be, like, DNA evidence. And I'm not sure that exists in Jodi's case," Fuller said. "That'd be the biggest roadblock for police."

Related Topics: PUBLIC SAFETY
Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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