Who Would Kill A 90-Year-Old Man? 2013 Cedar Rapids Homicide Hits One Year

By Chris Earl, Anchor/Reporter


By Chris Earl

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The house at 107 Gas Light Ct SW sits in the winter sun like most of the other homes in the quiet cul-de-sac.

Drifting snow leaving a white imprint around the house. Yet a house with very little activity now.

"There has been virtually no activity [at that house], aside from the sporadic lawn and snow service this past year," one neighbor told us, now a full year since police discovered Matthew John Owen, 90, beaten to death in a home that he had lived in for only two months.

Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said he is unable to comment specifically on the Owen case as it remains an open investigation.

"There is no danger to the public regarding the Owen case," said Jerman late last month.

Owen, known to people as John Owen, was found on January 18, 2013 after living his final months in a life where people entered and left and police were a common presence.

While Jerman cited the homicide investigation as open, he did offer detailed police reports on the seven police calls at the home from when Owen moved in back in November 2012 until his death two months later.

When trying to determine who would kill a 90-year-old man who needed an oxygen tank to get around, the police reports show a man surrounded by younger people.

Inside the seven police calls:

November 25, 2012, Theft. Owen claimed three of his diamond rings were missing, with the police report stating Owen thinks the movers may have taken the jewelry.

December 2, 2012, Theft. The report states jewelry valued at $35,000 was missing. It was recovered, but a Logines watch valued at $25,000 was stolen. Police also note two young women, ages 18 and 20, living with Owen at the time.

December 7, 2012, Burglary. In this report, a 42" flat panel TV is missing.

December 18, 2012, Welfare check.

December 26, 2012, Suspicious person.

December 28, 2012, Welfare check.

December 31, 2012, Burglary home invasion. A 27-year-old man, told earlier by police to not be at Owen's home, is described as present in the property.

He was found dead 18 days after the last police call to his house. Police have not announced any arrests in Owen's homicide nor do any of the reports show an arrest.

Sharon Hahn is the daughter of Owen's third wife, who passed away in 2009. She said Cedar Rapids police reached out to her after one of the police visits.

"[The officer] was very concerned that he was going to get hurt very badly, because he was living with these women he was very suspicious of," said Hahn.

A February 2013 article in The Gazette reported that Owen was a man who liked to tell others about his finances, display expensive jewelry on his hands and was not afraid to spend large amounts of money.

"He wanted to feel like Hugh Hefner," an 18-year-old former stripper told the Gazette in that article.

The article contended that Owen was not shy about spending money for young women to clean his house and drive him to appointments.

Katie Pencil, now 24, was quoted in the 2013 article that she met Owen through a stripper and was a close friend.

Pencil now lives out of the area but sent a long and detailed e-mail last month about her relationship with Owen.

"He had a big heart and was trying to surround himself (with) young ladies, such as myself," wrote Pencil, who called Owen one of her best friends. "This year without him has been so sad. I miss him more and more each day."

Pencil wrote that she didn't know who killed Owen or even why.

"I have a feeling it had to do with a money situation of some kids or someone didn't get their way," wrote Pencil. "[Owen] may have been fragile but he knew his self-worth and would fight for it."

Now approaching 13 months since Owen was killed, police say any leads that come in will receive a heightened priority.

"When we do receive new leads on homicides, regardless of the case, we do give them priority over some minor offenses or crimes of less sensitivity," said Jerman.

Since 2008, Cedar Rapids has had 18 homicide crime scenes. Of those 18, five have not had an arrest.

Eleven of the 13 did have an arrest, a charge or a resolution, such as a murder-suicide within 30 days.

The breakdown of arrests/charges/resolutions:

Day Of The Homicide: 5
Week Of The Homicide: 3
Within 30 Days: 3
Within 3 Months: 1
Within 6 Months: 1
Within 1 Year: 0
Unsolved: 5

April 15, 2008 - Thomas Horvath. 4900 16th Avenue SW. Jacoven Bush was arrested the next day.

June 15, 2008 – Aubrey Young. 200 16th Street SE. Shot in head. Unsolved.

August 26, 2008 – Jerry Hurt. 2nd Avenue & 14th St SE. Jason Blackcloud was arrested three weeks later.

February 15, 2009 – Matthew Hanson. 814 3rd Avenue SW #7. Jason Hanson, the victim's brother, was arrested that day.

June 26, 2009 – Dominique Mosby. 2030 Glass Road. Mosby was shooting dice at an apartment complex when he was shot. Unsolved.

July 7, 2010 – Dustin Davis. 370 15th St SE. A fight in the sidewalk. Henry Rogers was arrested that week and sentenced to two years.

Sept 19, 2010 – Doris Bevins. 1211 5th Avenue SE #2. Jerome Power was arrested that day.

April 29, 2011 – Cathy Stickley. Alley of 1500 2nd Avenue SE. Stickley was stabbed while driving a taxi. Johnathan Mitchell was arrested the following week but was acquitted at trial.

June 26, 2011 – Dexter Meeks. 211 15th Street SE, Apt. B. Unsolved.

Nov 26, 2011 – Andre Herron. 810 7th St SW. Herron was shot in the yard. Justin Ross was arrested four weeks later.

April 16, 2012 – Raphael Blackwell. 9395 6th St SW. Blackwell was shot in the parking lot of Woody's Show Club. Dominique Fisher was arrested two weeks later.

September 22, 2012 – Latasha Roundtree. 610 16th Avenue SW. Roundtree was shot outside and, five months later, police arrested Tajh Ross, Liban Muhidan, Adrian Kenney and Jeremiah Ellis.

December 7, 2012 – Anita Cusic-Labkon. 624 Old Marion Road NE. Shot in her own home and son Edward Cusic was arrested that day.

January 18, 2013 – Matthew "John" Owen. 107 Gas Light Ct SW. Owen found beaten to death in his home. Unsolved.

June 10, 2013 – Ronald Kunkle. 5663 Kirkwood Blvd SW. Police arrested Anthony Curd two months after Kunkle's body was found.

June 25, 2013 – Clifton West. 1500 block alley between 5th/6th Avenue SE. Stephen Johnson was arrested the following week in West's stabbing death.

Jan 30, 2014 – Linda Huber, Ingrid Livingston (Robert Livingston). 3515 Banar Dr SW. Ronald Livingston shot and killed his wife, Livingston, and her mother, Huber, before killing himself.

Feb 4, 2014 – Clifton Sparks. 1800 B Avenue NE. Sparks' body was found with what police describe as traumatic injuries. Unsolved.

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