Marlon Barber's death not only unsolved case in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Marlon Barber's death not only unsolved case in Dubuque

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Unsolved homicides and missing person cases frustrate local law enforcement agencies and leave communities hungry for answers.

That is, as long as those cases are kept in the public eye.

One group in Dubuque is trying to draw attention back to unsolved cases, some of which stretch decades into the past.

Margreet Ryan and David Becker are on the Social Justice Committee of the parishes of St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick's Church in Dubuque.

On Oct. 19, they're holding a ceremony in Jackson Park to remember the victims of unsolved homicides and missing person cases and show support for the families.

"It's difficult to talk about your grief, and these people must be grieving so, so severely, and where do they go with all of this, you know?" Ryan said. "This has been a history of 50 years of unresolved homicides and missing persons."

The Oct. 19 event will formally recognize the 12 unsolved homicide and missing person cases the committee could find, though they say there are likely more than that.

Members started planning the ceremony with the one-year anniversary of Marlon Barber Jr.'s unsolved homicide in mind.

On Oct. 20, 2012, the 15-year-old Dubuque teen was shot in the chest and stomach as he and his friends were walking away from a party. He died soon after in the hospital.

There have been no arrests or charges filed in the case.

Assistant Dubuque police chief Terry Tobin said investigators are confident they know what happened, but nobody has been willing to talk so far.

"It's one thing to potentially know the facts of the case or what happened. It's another thing to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," Tobin said. "Our issues on that case are the lack of people willing to come in and officially provide that information or be willing to stand up and acknowledge that the information that they have is out there and that it's accurate and that it would help us to build a case."

Barber's is just one of the unsolved homicide and missing person cases in the tri-state area.

"We said, 'Well, maybe there's other unsolved murder and missing people,' so we found out there was," Becker said.

The group learned of the following cases:

  • Francis Rafferty, who was killed in 1964 in a home invasion.
  • Sherrie and Victoria Martin were sisters who burned alive in an unsolved 1965 case of arson.
  • Kenneth Bouzard was beaten to death near the railroad tracks in 1971.
  • In 1975, Jackie Shireman was stabbed 30 times with a pair of scissors.
  • Patrician Spahn went missing from East Dubuque, Ill., in 1975.
  • Theodore Hoerstman went missing in December of 1982.
  • The body of 14-year-old Kenny Joe Johnson was discovered in 1987 in Dubuque. An autopsy revealed he'd been sexually assaulted and strangled to death.
  • Paul Knockel went missing on Thanksgiving of 1990.
  • 20-year-old Crystal Arensdorf disappeared on the Fourth of July, 2001.
  • Amy Luce has been missing since July of 2012.

"These cases can go for years and years, and all of a sudden something comes forward to the police or to other authorities and that's the bit of information that cracks the case open and allows for the case to be solved and to be cleared," Tobin said.

Although the people whose names made this list are gone, "they must not be forgotten," Ryan said. "That is the point. They must not be forgotten."

"We look at those events as being an opportunity to renew the interest in the public's eye for these cases," Tobin said. "There are people out there that have information that would be beneficial to helping us solve the case and close it."

He said the biggest challenge in cracking a cold case is the people who have information may die or move away as the years pass.

For other cases, such as the active investigation into Marlon Barber's death, Tobin said the problem lies in people who have information but won't talk.

The public remembrance ceremony in Dubuque is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Oct. 19, from 11-11:45 a.m. in Jackson Park. In case of bad weather, the event will take place across the street, in the basement of St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

For more information on Iowa's cold cases, click HERE.

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