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Cedar Rapids police close homicide cold case from 1971

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:37 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids Police Department announced on Tuesday it successfully identified the suspect in the homicide cold case of 17-year-old Maureen Brubaker-Farley from 1971.

The body of Brubaker-Farley was found in a wooded ravine off Ely Road SW on September 24, 1971.

On September 24, 2021, exactly 50 years after the Brubaker-Farley’s body was found, investigators say they confirmed the suspect to be George M. Smith using DNA technology.

With that, the case will be closed, with no prosecution, because the suspect, George M. Smith, died in 2013 at the age of 94.

Officials said Brubaker-Farley, born in 1954, was working at a diner located at 836 First Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids during the summer of 1971. She was reportedly last seen on September 17, 1971. Her employer reported her missing after she didn’t show up at work on September 20.

Her body was found on September 24 lying on the trunk of an abandoned car in a wooded ravine off Ely Road SW, near a landfill site, that is now Tate Cummins Park (on C Street SW).

Officials said the autopsy determined Brubaker-Farley had died after being hit in the head, causing a skull fracture, and that she had been sexually assaulted.

Investigators conducted interviews and collected evidence, but were unable to find enough evidence to charge anyone, so the case went cold.

However, in 2006 Detective Doug Larison found items for DNA analysis after reviewing the case. But no matches were found.

The CRPD Cold Case Unit began following up on the investigation in 2017. It found and eliminated more than 15 people as suspects using DNA comparison.

George M. Smith was not eliminated as a suspect, but because he had died in 2013, DNA had not been collected. However, investigators were able to collect DNA from a relative of Smith’s.

Officials said the results of the DNA analysis and comparison confirmed George M. Smith as the suspect in the case.

“No matter how much time has passed, our officers are committed to seeking out justice for all victims of violent crime as well as their families,” Chief of Police Wayne Jerman said. “I am extremely proud of the generations of Cedar Rapids Officers that contributed to bringing this once cold case to a resolution. I would also like to specifically recognize the contributions of our current Cedar Rapids Police Departments Cold Case Unit. Those individuals are Investigator Matt Denlinger, retired DCI Special Agent JD Smith and retired CRPD Police Lieutenant Ken Washburn.”

Law enforcement said they were able to notify the victim’s mother Mary Brubaker, 86, of Sioux City, Iowa, that the suspect had been identified.

Maureen Brubaker-Farley’s father died in 2002. She has four surviving siblings.

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