Police Solve 50-Year-Old Iowa Cold Case Killing

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say they have solved the 50-year-old killing of an Iowa teen but not before the suspect died of old age.

Relatives of Maureen Brubaker Farley, whose body was found by two teenage boys in 1971 in a wooded ravine in what is now Tait Cummins Park, long suspected that George Smith was the killer, The Gazette reports.

Farley's sister, Lisa Schenzel, said her mother, Mary Brubaker, wrote to Cedar Rapids police saying that Smith was responsible six months after her 17-year-old daughter died of a skull fracture. Smith was an acquaintance of hers at the diner where she worked. He worked at a liquor store near her apartment.

Police interviewed Smith in 1971 but did not have the evidence to charge him or any other suspect.

Recently, though, DNA technology that wasn't available at the time of the killing allowed police to confirm that Smith was Farley's killer. But the case was closed with no prosecution because Smith died in 2013 at age 94, police said this week.

Schenzel, 54, who now lives in North Sioux City, S.D., said investigators gave the news to her and her mother last week. She said she felt “a lot of emotions,” including relief and some closure. She said she and her family are satisfied with the evidence.

“I still get goose bumps right now,” Schenzel said. “It was very emotional. I cried, and then I had to repeat it to my mom, and she cried. Just a flood of emotions.”

Schenzel went into law enforcement in 1991. She’s been a deputy sheriff in South Dakota and Nebraska and a police officer in Nebraska.

She isn’t sure if what happened to her sister and the memory of her parents getting that phone call 50 years ago factored into her pursuing a career in law enforcement but said “maybe that played a role … and then just the stars aligned.”

Schenzel said she called Cedar Rapids police over the years and also asked her bosses to make contact with the department. She was told she could read the police report on her sisters death, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

“I’ve seen a lot in my life, but just getting up the nerve to go over and actually sit down and read a case on your sister — I just never made that leap,” Schenzel said.