CRPD Chief Opens Up On Recent Open Homicide Cases

By Chris Earl, Reporter

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By Chris Earl

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The work of a police investigative unit can be a never ending vacuum of work. Solve one major case and there is almost always an older and more difficult puzzle to piece together.

While Cedar Rapids is generally regarded as a safe city, quite a few of the homicide cases since 2000 are still unresolved.

Extensive research through KCRG-TV9/Gazette reveals a total of 36 homicide victims in Cedar Rapids since 2000. Out of that, 12 of the victims are in homicide cases without a resolution and without a conviction for those responsible.

Two of the city's last four homicides have not led to any arrests. Former Cedar Rapids Washington basketball standout Latasha Roundtree, was shot in the 600 block of 16th Avenue SW on September 22 of last night. She died at UIHC just hours later.

Last month brought the city's first homicide for 2013 as police have not made any arrests in the killing of M. John Owen, 90. Owen had purchased the home on Gas Light Court SW where, on January 18, police found him beaten to death while on a welfare check.

Police Chief Wayne Jerman has been with the Cedar Rapids Police Department since late October. He recognizes the concern about these recent unsolved homicides.

"In every homicide I have knowledge of, they do not cut corners," Jerman said of police departments he has worked with throughout his career.

Jerman said, in both the Roundtree and the Owen investigations, detectives are making progress. Yet obtaining the information has been a struggle.

"I do see a...resistance... I think is the proper term from people who have information and knowledge to share it with the police," said Jerman. "I hope they can trust us. They should trust us."

Reached by phone on Thursday, Roundtree's father, Reggie Williams, said he is confident and trusts the police to solve his daughter's homicide.

A family member of Owen's, who asked not to be identified, said he is "pleased with the efforts and diligence" of police in this case.

While the overall number of homicides in Cedar Rapids over the last dozen years can be startling, searching inside each case where an arrest was made shows the victim and the assailant almost always had a connection.

Jerman stresses that he believes, in both the Roundtree and the Owen homicides, there is no threat to the public.

"It's not random and not a situation where a neighborhood should be alarmed that there's a loose killer running around and may strike again at random."

*Notable "cold cases" in Cedar Rapids since 2000:

June 21, 2001: Tyrone Gilbert, 28, is found shot to death at 412 15th Street SE, on the front porch.

January 6, 2003: The body of Joseph Harris, 23, is discovered inside a burning car in the 3600 block of Wenig Road NE. Harris has been shot in the head.

April 5, 2003: Jay Grahlman, 38, and daughter Jaymie, 6. Father and daughter died from injuries in a fire at 3755 H Avenue NE. A neighbor was found "not guilty" on arson charges.

July 23, 2006: Anthony Posley, 22, was shot to death in the 1600 block of 6th Avenue SE.

November 28, 2006: Dorothy Rose, 43, was found in her home at 206 12th Street with an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. Ruled a homicide.

May 11, 2007: Dennis First, 64, found stabbed and beaten at his apartment at 2249 C Street SW.

June 15, 2008: The body of Aubrey Young, 35, was found between two parked cars in the 200 block of 16th Street SE. At the time, the city was in the midst of the Flood of 2008 and no arrests have been made in his killing.

June 26, 2009: Dominique Mosby, 22, was shot in the head at the Cedarwood Hills apartment complex at 2030 Glass Road NE. Iowa Cold Cases.org said Mosby was playing dice at the time he was shot.

June 26, 2011: Dexter Meeks, 22. Found shot near the front of 211 15th Street SE.

September 22, 2012: Latasha Roundtree, 19, is shot in the 600 block of 16th Avenue SW and dies hours later. No arrests have been made in the killing of the former Cedar Rapids Washington basketball standout.

January 18, 2013: Police find M. John Owen, 90, beaten to death in his home near Kirkwood Community College. Owen had purchased the home three months before. No arrests have been announced.

*Research complied through The Gazette/KCRG-TV9 and also from www.IowaColdCases.org.

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