"48 HOURS" REVEALS NEW INFORMATION IN THE SEARCH FOR IOWA TELEVISION ANCHOR JODI HUISENTRUIT IN "FINDJODI"
Saturday, Dec. 15
48 HOURS and Jim Axelrod reveal new information about the more-than-two-decade search for what happened to Iowa television anchor Jodi Huisentruit, in "FindJodi," to be broadcast Saturday, Dec. 15 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Huisentruit was an anchor at KIMT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Mason City, Iowa, when she disappeared on her way to work on June 27, 1995. When she didn't arrive at the television station for her morning assignment, concerned co-workers alerted police. Outside her apartment building, police found signs of a struggle, and her car was still there. She was never seen again. Her body was never found, and what happened to her is a mystery.
"We have never closed the case," Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley tells Axelrod. "It's never been a cold case for us. It's been an active investigation since it happened."
It has been 23 years since Huisentruit was last seen.
"I'm not ready to quit yet," Brinkley says.
"FindJodi" features new information about the case and explores multiple leads and theories about her abduction. Was it a crime of opportunity, was she targeted by an obsessed fan or was it someone she knew?
The report includes never-before-seen footage of a man who remains on police radar more than two decades after Huisentruit went missing. John Vansice was a friend of Huisentruit and volunteered to police that he was the last to see her alive. He said Jodi had been at his home the night before she vanished.
Within days of Huisentruit's disappearance in 1995, 48 HOURS began reporting in Mason City. When the case stalled, the footage was shelved and never aired. 48 HOURS producers pulled it from the archives. In the footage, Vansice is seen meeting with Jodi's sister, JoAnn Nathe, and he describes his friendship with Jodi. They were so close, he says, that he'd give her the shirt off his back.
"I just loved watching her have fun.... I tried to watch over her. I tried to check on her once in a while. Not all the time. Just once in a while. See how she's getting along," says Vansice, adding, "If you ever go in her apartment and you see men's clothes, they're mine. If I had a shirt she liked, you know I'd wear it for a while, and then I'd give it to her."
Vansice denies any involvement with her disappearance. Police have never called him a suspect and confirmed he passed a polygraph. Still, in 2017, police obtained a search warrant for GPS information from two of his vehicles.
The broadcast also includes interviews with co-workers such as former KIMT anchor Robin Wolfram, former news director Doug Merbach, journalist and private investigator Caroline Lowe, Huisentruit's sister, JoAnn Nathe, and more.
Nathe tells 48 HOURS that a few months before Jodi disappeared, Jodi worried about a possible stalker: "She got shook up one day when she was out hiking or jogging on a trail and a black truck had followed her."
48 HOURS looks at another person who was on police radar, a convicted serial rapist who once lived near Jodi.
Whatever specific information police have on anyone, Brinkley isn't sharing
"I don't want to let the cat out of the bag," Brinkley tells Axelrod.
"But is there a cat in the bag? Do you have something?" Axelrod asks.
"Not completely. No, I don't think we do yet. But I think that we're very close, close," Brinkley says.
"So does that mean we're talking about weeks, months?" asks Axelrod.
"I don't think it's fast." Brinkley responds.
Lowe says she won't give up the search for Huisentruit until the case is closed.
"I may be walking around with my cane and maybe in a wheelchair, but I am staying on this until we find Jodi," Lowe says. "Somebody knows something. Is it you?"
48 HOURS: "FindJodi" is produced by Clare Friedland, Ruth Chenetz and Chris Young Ritzen. Charlotte A. Fuller, Anthony Venditti and Cindy Cesare are the field producers. Michael McHugh is the producer-editor. Joan Adelman, Gregory F. McLaughlin and Michael Vele are the editors. Judy Tygard is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
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