Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



Iowa Cold Case: Graciela "Grace" Esquivel
Mason City, Mason Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
June 10, 1983

Graciela "Grace" ESQUIVEL was born December 21, 1957. She was 140 pounds and stood at 4' 11". She resided at 1619 N. Pennsylvania Avenue in Mason City and was the mother of a six-year-old daughter, Angie.

On June 10, 1983, Angie spent the night with her grandparents, Manuela and the late Armando ESQUIVEL while Grace went out with her friends.

The following day, Manuela and Armando brought Angie back to the home but Grace was not there. Her bed was found turned down as though someone was ready to go to bed. Grace's wallet and driver's license had been left behind.

According to Lt. Ron Vande WEERD of the Mason City Police Department, Grace's social security number has never been used since she disappeared. It is believed that Grace had been taken against her will and her status was declared as endangered. The circumstances surrounding the case have remained unclear.

Grace's disappearance remains a mystery to this day. She was 25-years-old at the time of her disappearance.

~ ~ ~ ~

Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Sunday, March 30, 2008
by Deb Nicklay

Finding the lost, naming the unnamed: Finding Grace

MASON CITY - It was the year that Michael JACKSON introduced Thriller. Ronald REAGAN was president. Terms of Endearment swept the Oscars.

It was also the year Grace ESQUIVEL disappeared.

Grace, then 25, was last seen on June 10, 1983. She lived at 1619 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Mason City with her daughter, Angie, 6.

Grace's story has faded in most memories. But not all.

"I don't want anyone to forget about Grace," said Angie BUNCH, an area director in Iowa and Indiana for the Doe Network, a group of nationwide volunteers who try to find the missing or identify the unknown. "I still have hope."

Grace is just one of 200 cases of missing men, women and children in the two states she investigates. The 34-year-old Kentucky woman is familiar with each of them, even calling the victims by first names.

BUNCH roams the Internet for information, updates files and contacts law enforcement agencies in the hope of uncovering that one clue that might lead to a discovery. She works on multiple cases daily.

"There aren't many nights I go to bed before 4 a.m.," she said, her soft southern voice like velvet. "If you ask my fiance' or my children, they'll say I have an addiction. But I believe this is a way I can help."

The Doe Network was founded on a simple principle: If the correct information - dental records, DNA, police reports, photographs - is entered into the right databases, many of the unidentified can be matched with the missing.

In the United States, there are more than 40,000 unnamed bodies, according to the National Crime Information Center and about 100,000 people are formally listed as missing.

In Iowa, there are six unidentified bodies and 43 listed as missing. The oldest case is the 1973 disappearance of 11-year-old Boy Scout Guy HECKLE of Cedar Rapids; the most recent are the 1999 disappearances of 56-year-old Dennison STOOKESBERRY of Blakesburg and Dennis ADDLESBERGER, 46, of Council Bluffs.

There are four North Iowa cases on the list. Besides ESQUIVEL, there is the 1986 disappearance of Rodney J. OLSEN of rural Mason City; the 1995 disappearance of KIMT-TV anchorwoman Jodi HUISENTRUIT of Mason City; and the little-known case of Kenora CAVAN, a 16-year-old Clear Lake teenager who was last seen on her birthday, June 6, 1998.

Although BUNCH has not resolved any case herself - she has only devoted full-time hours to the position since 2006 - she is hopeful her work will pay off.

She continually seeks media reports and other bits of information to add to and update files, but all information must be verified first through law enforcement agencies.

"It's only then that we will post that information," BUNCH said. There is also an Iowa-based researcher who works with BUNCH to seek out information. Cooperation shown by law enforcement has been good, BUNCH said.

Cerro Gordo Sheriff Kevin PALS said he is more than willing to work with "any agency that might help us shed light" on a case. His department is the primary investigating agency for the OLSEN case. He still believes there are some in the area "who still can be re-interviewed in this case," he said. The problem is time, he said. That's hard to admit, he added, when family members continue to hope for breaks in the cold cases.

"But the day-to-day never ends," he said. "The work on new cases is always there. So when someone like this (Doe Network) inquires, I am very open-minded about them helping us solve cases." Lt. Ron Vande WEERD of the Mason City Police Department agreed.

"I have no problem" with the work done by the network; in fact, he said, they have contacted the department on the cases several times. "I think they have done some amazing things," he added.

BUNCH said that older cases like ESQUIVEL'S make investigations tougher, but not unsolvable. Primary investigators retire and, sometimes, family members move from the town in which they lived at the time of a disappearance.

In other cases, DNA has not been secured from family members in case where remains are found. Losing ties with family can make it hard to obtain DNA or even dental records.

Vande WEERD said his department is fortunate to have kept in contact with Grace's family and does have DNA from Grace's family members in case remains are found.

In CAVAN'S case, however, investigators found that the family moved at some point after her disappearance and are not sure where they are today, said Clear Lake Police Chief Greg PETERSON.

Keeping in touch with families is important for other reasons, said BUNCH, especially if there are children. Sons and daughters often take up searches after their parents, or other older relatives, die or can no longer be involved. BUNCH believes the more looking into cases, the better.

BUNCH becomes very close to many victims' families, she said. "I have one case in Indiana; sisters who are looking for their sibling. I talk to them weekly. In many ways, they become like extended family."

Her own interest in resolving cases came with a first-hand experience when a childhood friend disappeared. She and other children were on a playground with a young boy who left the playground on his bike to go to a nearby store. He was not seen after that.

"My family moved from that area and I never heard what happened to him," she said. Years later, she began to look for information about him on the Internet and discovered the boy's body had been found in a pond near the town.

"Along the way, when I was on the Net, I came across the Doe Web site and I was fascinated with all of it," she said.

If the hours of searching get long, she does not get depressed, she said.

"For me, not being able to find someone just fuels the fire. It pushes me to work harder," she said. "It is hard, though, when some cases like Grace's provide little information."

Vande WEERD agreed that few leads have surfaced since 1983.

"I really want to find more," BUNCH said. "It's such a long time. "I feel bad, too, when some cases overtake others, just because we know more about them. I want to get Grace's case out there (in the public eye), get out as much as we can. And we can hope."

North Iowa's Missing:

  • Kenora (or Kenore) CAVAN. CAVAN, of Clear Lake, has been missing since June 6, 1998, her 16th birthday. She was not immediately classified as missing and questions remain about whether she was a runaway. Her parents, Noi and Natly CAVAN, moved from the area.

    Description: Height: 5 feet, 5 inches tall; weight: 107 pounds; Asian female with brown hair and brown eyes.

  • Graciela (Grace) ESQUIVEL. ESQUIVEL, 25, the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, Angie, was reported missing in June 1983. She lived at 1619 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Mason City.

    Her daughter spent the night of June 10 with her grandparents, Manuela and the late Armando ESQUIVEL, while Grace said she was going out with friends.

    According to reports, her bed was found turned down as if someone was ready to go to bed and her wallet and driver's license were left behind. Her Social Security number has never been used since her disappearance, according to Lt. Ron Vande WEERD of the Mason City Police Department.

    Manuela ESQUIVEL moved to Missouri several years ago.

    Globe Gazette
    Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
    Friday, April 4, 2008
    by Deb Nicklay

    Clear Lake woman, once thought missing,
    is found living in Canada

    CLEAR LAKE — A 26-year-old Clear Lake woman, thought to be missing since 1998 is well and living in Canada, authorities reported.

    Lt. John GREEN of the Clear Lake Police Department said Kenora CAVAN, who was one of four North Iowans listed as missing on law enforcement and the Doe Network Web sites, talked to GREEN on Wednesday. GREEN said CAVAN lives in Montreal, earned a college degree and works for a company there. Her mother lives in Forest City.

    "She thought it was kind of strange when I called," said GREEN, but added it was clear to him that she was the Kenora CAVAN being sought. She was surprised by her status as "missing." CAVAN told GREEN that she had returned to her parents' home not long after she was reported missing in 1998.

    Language issues — CAVAN'S parents are from Southeast Asia — may have been partly to blame for not clearing up her whereabouts earlier.

    "They did not tell us or did not understand that we should know that she had returned," GREEN said. "Her name just never came out of the system."

    Further contact with the family was lost when it moved from Clear Lake. CAVAN'S mother was later found to be living in Forest City.

    GREEN in recent months was able to obtain a cell phone number for CAVAN, although he was not able to reach her until Wednesday. CAVAN declined to talk to the media when offered the opportunity, GREEN said.

    Cavan’s photograph and information has been on the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff's Web site for some time. CAVAN was featured in a Globe Gazette story on March 30 about the work done by the Doe Network. Three other North Iowans — Grace ESQYUVEL, Rodney OLSEN and Jodi HUISENTRUIT — remain missing.

    Angie BUNCH, the Iowa and Indiana area director for the Doe Network, said she was glad "for the happy ending" and being able to remove CAVAN'S information from the Doe Network.

    Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2011



  • Return to News Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Home Page


    © Copyright 1996-
    Cerro Gordo Co. IAGenWeb Project
    All rights Reserved.