Sins of the Past, Part Two

The Copper Dollar Murders, March 3, 1983

By Gary Peterson

Scenes of violent deaths always seem to be cold, and the double murder that was carried out near Newton, Iowa, was no exception.  Officers at the scene said that in all their years they have never had to investigate homicides with such brutality.  The case of the 1983 Copper Dollar murders remains unsolved and is, in the true sense of the words, “A Cold Case.”

The two victims, Steven Fisher and his girlfriend Melisa Gregory, were discovered at a ranch northwest of Newton, Iowa.  Both of the victims were so badly mutilated that officials had to depend on dental records and fingerprints to confirm their identities.  Autopsy reports ruled that the couple died of massive head trauma.

How did this happen?  What was the motive?

Many things about this case appear to make it a crime of passion. The female victim, Melisa Gregory, was found inside a camper trailer at the ranch, located about four miles northwest of Newton.  He nude body was found at the table in the camper, her arms on the table and her body covered in blood.  There was mutilation of the body.

It is believed that Melisa was the second victim, the first being her boyfriend, Steve.  As law enforcement tried to reconstruct the crime, it would appear as though someone came to the ranch and drew Fisher out of the door toward a vehicle, where he was killed.  Fisher only had jeans on, and his feet were bare.  At first officials believed they had been shot in the heads because of the massive damage done.  It was later concluded that the weapon was a hammer-type object that was not located at the scene.

At the time of the deaths, Steven Fisher was married to Terri Supino, but had been separated for several months.  Supino and Fisher had two young children.

When the murders occurred, Jasper County Sheriff Mike Balmer was a deputy.  In a past interview with, Balmer said that he believed it was a crime of passion and that someone was angry.

The families of Melisa Gregory and Steven Fisher deserve to have this case solved and to have the people responsible brought to justice.  In the coming articles, we’ll investigate more into the Copper Dollar Ranch murders.