Iowa City Police Make Arrest in 1997 Murder Case

By Lee Hermiston & Mark Carlson, Reporters

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- DNA and hair evidence has linked a former University of Iowa researcher now living in St. Paul to the 1997 murder of his wife.

According to a news release from the Iowa City Police Department, 73-year-old John Richard Bloomfield was arrested at his St. Paul, Minn. home Tuesday for the murder of his wife, Frances Bloomfield. He is in custody in Minnesota awaiting extradition to Iowa City.

Frances Bloomfield, 57, who lived at 38 Wakefield Court in Iowa City, was reported missing Sept. 22, 1997, by her husband John – a researcher at the University of Iowa's Center for Computer-Aided Design. Three days later, Winnebago County, Ill. authorities found a body bound with pantyhose and wrapped in plastic and duct tape in a ditch near Rockford, Ill. Authorities believed Bloomfield had been strangled in her home.

Court documents released in 1997 revealed investigators who responded to the Bloomfield home found blood stains on two bedrooms on the second floor of the home, as well as a mark that indicated Bloomfield was dragged in the hallway.

A blood stain was also found on the wall at the bottom of the stairs between the first and second floors and two stains on the garage floor, according to the documents, which are detailed in a Nov. 26, 1997 Gazette article.

Her car was later discovered at Newark International Airport.

John Bloomfield told authorities he was in the Chicago area at the time of his wife's death. However, police said Bloomfield was unable to sufficiently account for the time he was allegedly on the road.

On Tuesday, Iowa City Police Sgt. Vicki Lalla stopped short of saying John Bloomfield was always a suspect in the case.

"I think it would be safe to say he was always a person of interest," Lalla said.

Lalla said Bloomfield's arrest is an example of police never losing their determination to solve a case.

"We're ever hopeful something will come to light or something will happen," she said.

Former Johnson County Attorney J. Patrick White said he was pleased by the news of the arrest in the 16-year-old case.

"It was certainly one of the more frustrating unsolved cases," White said.

White said when he left office the case was "left with insufficient evidence and put away in the hope some day people would have enough time and effort and something would break."

White said, without hesitation, that Bloomfield was always a suspect in his wife's murder, but that comes with a caveat.

"I think you always look at people surrounding a murder victim," he said. "Spouses are always a person of interest, if not suspects. Depending on what is produced, they can become suspects. Certainly, he was always a person of interest in her case."

The complaint states that a forensic analysis of one of the ligatures used to bind Frances Bloomfield's body contained male DNA. The male DNA was compared to John Bloomfield's DNA. Police said the Y chromosome profile of the DNA found on the ligature was "consistent" with John Bloomfield's Y chromosome profile.

Additionally, a hair was located on tape found on Frances' body that was "microscopically" similar to John's hair.

Police said John Bloomfield has given "inconsistent accounts" of the time leading up to the murder and when he discovered his wife was missing. Bloomfield was interested in another woman, police said.

According to the University of Minnesota website, John Bloomfield was a research associate at the university's Center for Design in Health. The center's director, Kathleen Harder, said Bloomfield was hired in March 2000 and retired three or four years ago. Harder said she was not comfortable commenting on Bloomfield's arrest.

First-degree murder is a class A felony punishable by life in prison.

WATCH: Previous coverage of the Frances Bloomfield Case
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