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  • “…the dogfight in your own backyard…”

    Alison Parker interviewing Vicki Gardner, just before the shooting.

    Alison Parker interviewing Vicki Gardner, just before the shooting.

    Such sad news, and such a sad week for local television news.

    I never thought of my job on local TV as being  a particularly dangerous occupation.  Decades ago, when I started out as an idealistic young reporter, I was just a starry-eyed kid working in small-market TV, one of the lowest paid jobs I’d ever had, before or since.  In those days, before the advent of the internet, I remember being concerned in a few instances, and I remember worrying a bit about a couple of weirdos who wrote letters or called me at the station.

    But I rarely sensed any real danger at all.

    I doubt a couple of young TV professionals in Roanoke, Virginia, sensed danger on Wednesday, August 26, just before they were gunned down by a former coworker.  AT WDBJ in Roanoke, the day began with the kind of story that is fodder for many early morning local TV shows across the country.  Reporter Alison Parker and camera-man Adam Ward were live on the air, interviewing an area woman about the fiftieth anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake, a popular local sporting and sunbathing reservoir.  That kind of story and others like it make up the daily mundane fare that fills the early time slots of local news shows.

    Years ago, I remember a former colleague, at that time already a grizzled TV veteran remarking to me, “No story is as interesting as the dogfight in your own backyard.” Of course, he was referencing the tendency toward providing the audience with hyper-local news for residents of area communities. Alison and Adam were at work doing just that when they were tragically gunned down by an apparently deranged and disgruntled former news colleague.  I didn’t know them personally, though we shared the kinship of working at different times in local television news. Nevertheless, my heart grieves for their family, friends, and colleagues in the TV industry.

    And, as always, I hearken back to my own memories, and those of a former professional colleague whose disappearance and presumed murder have not yet been solved.  The horror of what happened to Jodi Huisentruit in Mason City, Iowa, twenty years ago this summer is mirrored  this summer in Roanoke, Virginia.

    Rest in peace, Alison Parker and Adam Ward.

     

  • Dateline: Mason City, Iowa

    A sincere “Thank You!” for so many who participated in marking the 20th anniversary observance of the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit.  Members of the FindJodi team gathered in Mason City early Saturday morning, June 27 to “finish Jodi’s journey” from her apartment to the premises of KIMT-TV.

    It was so gratifying to see so many turn out for the event – members of Jodi’s family, college friends, former colleagues, former viewers, law enforcement, journalists and the media.  Special thanks to Abby Kleinschmidt (a longtime Huisentruit family friend from Alexandria, Minnesota), who presented a $1000 check to the FindJodi.com team.  Not one of us on the team takes a salary (we all donate our travel, time, and other costs), but expenses do add up in keeping a website of its kind up and running.

    Many thanks, too, to the Upper Midwest media community for the great exposure you provided to our cause.  Gary Peterson, Jay Alberio and I had a lot of microphones and cameras pushed into our faces over the last few days! We had reps from a number of TV, radio and newspaper outlets from all around the upper Midwest.  Jodi’s case, along with that of Jacob Wetterling, represent just two of the most infamous missing persons cases in this section of the country.

    We hope this 20th anniversary event will serve as a critical reminder to the JodiFlyer

     L to R:  Caroline Lowe, Jay Alberio, Abby Kleinschmidt, Beth Bednar, Gladys Peterson, Gary Peterson

    L to R: Caroline Lowe, Jay Alberio, Abby Kleinschmidt, Beth Bednar, Gladys Peterson, Gary Peterson

    public to come forward with whatever knowledge they may have that might help bring this case to closure.  Please contact any of us via the FindJodi.com website – we truly value your input.  And we are so grateful for your support!

  • Finishing Jodi’s journey

    Saturday, June 27, 2015 is circled in red on my calendar this year.  It’s important to me and others because it marks 20 years since the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit in Mason City, Iowa.  To honor Jodi’s memory and the unending mission to find her, the team at findjodi.com and I will be participating in a special remembrance of that dark day in 1995.   With an open invitation to the general public, our group plans to symbolically “finish Jodi’s journey” from her home to KIMT-TV.

    At 10 a.m. on Saturday, we’ll gather at the Riverside Friends Church (527 North Kentucky Avenue – just across the street from the Key Apartments), and begin the walk to the KIMT-TV property, where we’ll hold a brief news conference and Q and A session.  The route won’t pose much of a challenge to most – it’s just over a mile, and the observance is open to the public.  (More information is available at findjodi.com.)JodiFlyer  We’d love to see you there!

  • WalkForJodiFlyer

  • From COLD to CLOSED

    Supino (left) consults with a member of her defense team.

    Supino (left) consults with a member of her defense team.

    The Copper Dollar Ranch story certainly doesn’t rank very high on the national news scale these days. After all, today it is largely the story of the legal machine grinding out justice in a thirty-two year old cold case.  The fact that it’s playing out in a relatively remote area of Iowa doesn’t add much to the news factor.   Nevertheless, I am and others are following the case with interest.  And earlier this week, Gary Peterson (of FindJodi.com) and I made the trip to the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa, to sit in as courtroom spectators.   

    The Copper Dollar Ranch murder trial is now in its second week in Black Hawk County, after a change of venue from the Jasper County Court in Newton.  This week, the state is continuing its attempt to convince jurors of Terri Supino’s motives in the double homicide case, and the defense team will play out its strategy before the case is put into the hands of the jury.  We should hear the jury’s determination within the next couple of weeks. 

    Terri Supino, now 54, is being tried on two murder charges in the 1983 brutal beating deaths of her then-estranged husband, 20 year old Steven Fisher and his girlfriend, 17 year old Melisa Gregory, at the ranch near Newton, Iowa.  On this site, I have written about some of the sordid details of the case, including a jealous, often violent lovers’ triangle and the juicy tales of an alleged drug-running ranch owner.  At the very least, it makes for a compelling cautionary tale and a fascinating human interest story.  But multiple generations of Newton residents have been held in the grip of the fall-out from the case, and its resulting fear, suspicion and rumors.  Whatever decision is reached, it is time this cold case is laid to rest. 

    Why do we care?  Followers of the Jodi Huisentruit investigation are at least tangentially interested.  You’ll recall one of the main players in the Huisentruit case was and still is John Vansice, a man who had relocated from Newton to Mason City, Iowa in the year preceding the disappearance of Jodi in June of 1995.  Investigating his past brought us into the orbit of this older and colder case.  Further, in August, 2012, Gary and I had the opportunity to personally visit with Terri Supino herself, long before her March, 2014 arrest. 

    No matter how we feel, this courtroom drama will reach its inevitable conclusion, and no other trials are forthcoming.  No matter what our private convictions, whether Terri walks free or goes back to jail following this jury’s decision, the Copper Dollar file will have to be stamped CASE CLOSED.