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Search for Relatives of Cedar Rapids Murder Victim Comes Up Empty

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa After a month-long search, police said Tuesday they have not located any relatives of murder victim Doris Bevins.

Bevins, 68, was assaulted Sept. 19 in her southeast Cedar Rapids apartment and died a day later, police said. Her upstairs neighbor, 48-year-old Jerome Power, has been charged with first-degree murder. He has entered a plea of not guilty.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said the police department, the Linn County attorney's office and a local family services agency have searched for Bevins' relatives. So far, they've found many friends, but no relatives.

"It just breaks my heart," Hamblin said.

Police were able to confirm that Bevins' husband died within the last few years, but they are unsure if she has any living children. Hamblin said one tip mentioned a possible daughter in Virginia.

Penny Boerner Galvin, a victim's advocate with the Horizons Survivors Program, said many neighbors knew Bevins, but said she never talked about her family. Boerner Galvin said it is the first time in the history of the Survivors Program that a relative hasn't been located.

"We're at a standstill," Boerner Galvin said. "Every victim has a right to have friends or family members have the opportunity to say goodbye. That's just not happening at this point."

Bevins' body remains at the State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny, police said. Those involved with the search and investigators at the medical examiner's office will decide together when to stop searching, officials said.

If the body goes unclaimed, the county would be contacted to pay for an indigent burial, said Walker Hodges, an investigator with the state medical examiner's office.

Linn County's general assistance program would provide up to $1,000 for burial, even without a relative's signature, but that would only cover cremation. Police don't consider that a viable option because cremation would eliminate the possibility of any future DNA testing, should new evidence come to light in the future, Hamblin said.

Without a relative's signature, Bevins is not eligible for up to $7,500 for funeral and burial expenses through the state's Crime Victim Compensation Program.

"We are just hoping that someone in the community knows how to find any children or relatives," Hamblin said. "It is so sad to think that someone living in Cedar Rapids has many friends but no family to bury them when they die."

Anyone with information about Bevins' relatives is asked to call police at (319) 286-5400 or e-mail g.aboud@cedar-rapids.org.

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