MASON CITY, Iowa - On what would have been Jodi Huisentruit’s 50th birthday, a group dedicated to finding the missing TV anchor officially unveiled billboards pleading for help in her case.
On Tuesday, the findjodi.com team of journalists and a retired detective gathered in Mason City - along with Huisentruit’s friends - to mark the latest milestone in the high-profile cold case. The team decided to put up four billboards around the city where Huisentruit disappeared nearly 23 years ago. Each of the signs features a different picture of the then 27-year-old woman and a simple question: “Someone knows something… Is it you?”
“It’s time for Jodi to come home. There’s a chance there could be someone here in Mason City who knows something and for the month of June, they won’t be able to escape that billboard,” said Caroline Lowe, a veteran crime reporter and member of findjodi.com.
On June 27, 1995, Huisentruit never showed up for work at her Mason City television station. Police later discovered signs of a struggle at her apartment, but no one has been arrested for her abduction. In 2003, journalists formed the findjodi.com team to try and help crack her case.
The team opted to mark the Huisentruit birthday with this latest outreach, noting that they covered the costs with money from an anonymous donation. They also hope to put up billboards every June until Jodi is found.
“We know the power of that. We’re hoping to use that power. If somebody is watching. If somebody’s coming to our website anywhere in the world, they’re going to see that we’re not going away,” Lowe said.
And those who knew Huisentruit best say they’re grateful for that commitment.
“They get a lot of leads that don’t pan out, but they follow them up,” said Candy Host.
Host explained her relationship with Huisentruit is longer than she can remember: “Jodi always joked she remembers the day I was born. She was part of our - and a lot of other - families in Long Prairie,” referring to their hometown in Minnesota.
And Host acknowledged the pain of seeing her beloved friend on a billboard, saying: “I don’t know if you’re ever prepared to round a corner and see a picture of someone you love that much on a billboard.”
But the longtime friend also believes a billboard may bring answers.
“If this is what it takes. If this is what it takes, let’s do it,” she said, adding, “There’s always hope. There’s always hope.”
Meanwhile, the Mason City Police Chief welcomes the new attention to the case. But Chief Jeff Brinkley also wants to reassure the community the investigation into Huisentruit’s disappearance continues.
“We’re continuing to work the case, and I think there’s been good evidence of that. In fact, in the last year or so, a couple of things have come out,” Brinkley said, referring to the release of a search warrant indicating authorities searched the car of a person last year frequently mentioned as a prime suspect.
Brinkley won’t comment on whether they’re working on a new lead right now, but he supports the message of the signs now filling his town.
“We think that there’s someone out there who knows more,” he said.
If you have any information on the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit, you’re urged to call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636. You can also check out the latest on Huisentruit’s case - or share information - at findjodi.com.