$1 million bond set in 1995 murder, victim's son talks about clo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

$1 million bond set in 1995 murder, victim's son talks about closure

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Steven Klein Steven Klein
Susan Kersten Susan Kersten

For 20 years a man thought his mother's killer would never be found, but after Friday's arrest his thoughts have now changed.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office arrested 54-year old Steven Klein in Muscatine late Friday morning while he was at work.

Saturday morning, during Klein's initial court appearance, the judge didn't set any additional court hearings. District Associate Judge Deb Minot did however give Klein an application for a public defender.

Klein will remain behind bars on a $1 million cash-only bond, set by Minot.

Klein has been charged with killing Susan Kersten in 1995, she was 38 at the time.

Kersten's son, Jason Kersten lives in Williamsburg and says the arrest gives him and his family some closure.

“Life is good, I appreciate every moment I have and I thank God every day,” said Kersten. "Relief of knowing there's nobody out there watching you, and honestly it's a hard feeling to know there's somebody out there that had killed your mother."

Kersten says he was 17-years-old when he got the news of his mother being killed and says all these years it's been a rough and painful wondering who killed his mother?

It was September 1995 when investigators say 38- year old Susan Kersten was severely beaten, body was then placed inside a car, and investigators say Klein allegedly staged an accident before setting the car on fire with Kersten's body inside.

Detectives found the burning vehicle later that night in rural Iowa City.

“A lot of confusion, it was hard to put that together in my mind,” said Kersten. “Just trying to figure out why somebody would do that?”

However, he says he never gave up hope, even two decades later.

“They really wanted to have some closure to this case,” said Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness. "Really narrowed the focus and made it clear that all of the evidence that we had we really could put together and the only person it could point to was Steven Klein.”

Investigators and Lyness would not get too specific about what helped them break the case other than to saying they started re-interviewing people which helped in the process.

“I used to wait by the phone a lot and you just try to remain in that bubble of hope that something's going to go forward,” said Kersten. “The second day we were into this they were telling us 'we know who did this.'”

Investigators say Klein was Kersten's ex- boyfriend, and according to the Iowa Cold Cases website, her death came just three weeks before a child support hearing for their 1-year-old twin daughters.

“I feel a lot better about here being somebody arrested, it's a big relief off my shoulders,” said Kersten.

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