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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    IA - Wilma Nissen, 23, Lyon County, Aug 1978


    Unidentified White Female

    * Partially skeletonized remains were discovered in Lyon County, Iowa on October 4, 1978.
    * The victim is believed to have died in August of 1978.
    * Cause of death was not determined due to the decomposition of the body; however, there is a depressed skull fracture above the victim's right eye. It is not known if this was a result of a previous injury or if it was related to her death.

    Vital Statistics

    * Estimated age: 20 - 30 years old
    * Approximate Height and Weight: 5'4 - 5'6; 100 - 120 pounds.
    * Distinguishing Characteristics: Light brown or blonde hair, 16 inches in length.
    * Dentals: The lower jaw and all but two of the victim's teeth were missing when she was discovered.
    * Clothing: She was wearing green khaki denim pants with braid trim around the waist and pockets. She also wore white "go-go"-style boots, as seen below. The victim was wearing the gold friendship ring on the third finger of her right hand, as seen below.
    * Fingerprints/DNA: Available
    Last edited by Cubby; 04-26-2010 at 09:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    After 27 years, authorities have identitied of the remains of a woman found dead in Lyon County, Iowa, but they won't disclose who it is until Thursday.

    Sheriff Blythe Bloemendaal said a firm identification was made two weeks ago, but law enforcement tried to find and tell family members first.

    "It's never been put in a drawer or closed by us. It's always been open," he said, declining to answer more specific questions about the case until Thursday.

    The woman was discovered Oct. 4, 1978, a half-mile west of present-day 190th Street and Cherry Avenue, 6 1/4 miles northwest of Inwood, Iowa. An unidentified telephone company employee found the woman in a ditch.

    Authorities described the woman as 20 to 30 years old, 5-feet-5, 100 pounds with long, dark blond hair.

    Now retired Sheriff Craig Vinson told the Argus Leader in October 1978 that an autopsy could not determine a cause of death because the woman was badly decomposed.

    The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Web site noted that the partially skeletonized body was missing the lower jaw and all but two teeth. The woman's skull had an indentation similar to a crease about two inches above the right eye. Her estimated date of death was in August 1978.

    "It has not been determined if this occurred as a result of an injury prior to death or was a result of one of the mechanisms of the attack leading to death," according to the DCI.

    Vinson had said the woman's description didn't fit anyone on Iowa's missing persons list, and initial checks with South Dakota law enforcement revealed nothing.

    "We did a lot of investigation on the matter, talked to a lot of people both in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota," he said.

    A couple neighbors in rural Inwood were surprised to learn that law enforcement discovered the woman's identity.

    Cindy Van Hill lived in Inwood with her family when the woman was found. They later moved to an acreage near that site.

    "It was spooky because they could never figure out who it was," Van Hill said. "We can see the hill where it happened."

    Carol and Bill Van Gammeren have lived three-quarters of a mile east of where the woman was found since 1973.

    Carol Van Gammeren said she was kind of scared to hear about the incident.

    "I think they (law enforcement) stopped here (to see) if we heard anything that night," Van Gammeren said. "We hadn't. ... I'm just glad they found out who it is."

    Both Van Hill and Van Gammeren said they were interested in learning the woman's identity.

    "I don't know if we'd know her," Van Gammeren said. "I imagine we don't because we would have heard if someone we knew was missing."

    This was one of the unsolved murder cases that came to public attention after South Dakota's cold case unit reopened the 1971 investigation into the disappearance of two teenage girls in Vermillion.

    Bloemendaal said he didn't know if the Lyon County case was linked to the unsolved Vermillion case.

    "What we've done so far has nothing to do with Union County's investigation," he said. "Whether it leads us to there later remains to be seen."

    Sara Rabern, the South Dakota Attorney General's office spokeswoman, said she was not aware if the northwest Iowa case was involved with the missing Vermillion girls.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    "2/16/ 2006
    Jane Doe
    Wilma June Nissen aka Wilma Wellington aka Boots Wellington dob 10-19-54 believed born in San Francisco, a troubled child who may have ran away frequently, believed living in the streets from time to time. Known to have been in San Diego, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bakersfield and Long Beach California between 1973 and 1975. Unknown whereabouts from 1975 oct 5 1978 when found in Lyon County. (...)"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Sadly I don't think Wilma was listed on any public missing person's site. I'm glad she's identified.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Has anyone seen a picture of her? I just wasnted to see what she looked like.

    Sadly she was living on the street and it will be hard to ever find out what happened. It is surprising how many murders are kept secret.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Photo at link

    She has a daughter who was about 1 yr old when Wilma disappeared.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Wilma June Nissen

    This victim was located on October 4, 1978 near Inwood, Lyon County, Iowa.

    She was identified in January 2006 as 23-year-old Wilma June Nissen, who grew up in California. It's still unknown what brought Nissen to Iowa, but investigators believe she was a troubled youth, possibly a runaway who was estranged from her parents.

    She had run-ins with the law, including an arrest for prostitution in Long Beach, Calif., in 1975. Those were the last known whereabouts of Nissen, who also went by the aliases Wilma Wellington and Boots Wellington.

    When Nissen was found in 1978, the technology at the time wasn't good enough to identify her. But in January 2006, investigators plugged in a fingerprint search in the updated FBI software, and got a 100% positive ID by fingerprint analysis to the young woman from California.

    This is the blurb about the ID on the Doe Network. The body was too decomposed to determine a cause of death but they were able to get fingerprints?

    Also, is anyone else perturbed by these cases where they had the fingerprints on file all this time but never ran them in the computer system?

    As I said before, I'm glad she's been identified but I have to question how "due dilligence" is defined now.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    From September 2007:


    Less than two hours after unearthing the concrete vault that housed the body of Wilma June Nissen, Lyon County Sheriff Blythe Bloemendaal was disappointed to find a coffin filled with water.

    "DNA is just blown now," Bloemendaal said after the coffin was opened. Seeing it, he said, was like "getting punched in the gut. I was so disheartened."

    Bloemendaal had watched earlier as the vault was pulled from the ground six weeks after he was granted permission to exhume her body to search for clues to her unsolved 1978 murder.
    From August 2009:


    It involves the murder of Wilma June Nissen, whose body was found in a Lyon County ditch 31 years ago. The man arrested is not charged with murder -- he faces six charges of perjury, all felonies.

    The Lyon County Sheriff's Department arrested 82-year-old John Vangammeren, who lives on a county road near Inwood...
    Charges dismissed in 2010:


    From July 2014:


    Now, DNA technology is providing some assistance in the case. Detective Jerry Birkey with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office says that, when found, Nissen’s body was bound, and that “touch DNA” has been recovered from those bindings...

    He says that the lab has been able to determine that the DNA found doesn’t belong to Nissen... Birkey says that the DNA sample recovered and amplified has even allowed authorities to rule out a couple of persons of interest in the case.

    Birkey says that authorities do have a person of interest in Nissen’s murder, and are trying to locate a potential witness, as well.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    KSFY-TV: Suspect sought in 1978 cold case murder of Wilma Nissen | May 2, 2016

    Chief Deputy Jerry Birkey says the picture, taken in the mid-1970's, shows an African-American woman who knew Nissen. He knows her name but will not release it at this. He says he needs the public's help in independently verifying who this woman is.
    (Don't know how to post the image here, but it's at the source.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    In a new development announced May 2, 2016, Lyon County investigators have released a photo of one of the women who they believe is responsible for Nissen’s death. According to police, the suspect was an escort and a dancer who liked to rob other escorts, prostitutes and dancers. Police believe Nissen was killed by this woman and another prostitute who worked along with Nissen for a Sioux Falls escort service.

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