Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Iowa Cold Case: Elgin Hobert Strait
Mason City, Mason Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
March 18, 1977

Elgin Hobert STRAIT, born October 15, 1896 in Adams County, Iowa, one of 15 children of (Josie Mary McCORD) and Peter Addison STRAIT. His siblings were Jacob M., Cyrus Daniel, Blaine Lockheart, Warren Lester, Arnold A., Arlan Lewis, Donald Robert, Byron Roosevelt, Winnie Mable (STRAIT) WESTCOAT, Celia Bell (STRAIT) RIDNOUR, Agnes Vernice (STRAIT) HARDEE, Iva C. (STRAIT) SCOTT, Blanche Rose STRAIT, and Flossie Fern (STRAIT) SMITH JACKSON. Many of his siblings preceded him in death.

He married Flossie J. RIDNOUR in Corning, Iowa on May 5th of 1917, and the couple had four children: Geneva Rose (STRAIT) LaGRANGE, Otho STRAIT, Colleen G. STRAIT, and Ruth (STRAIT) DeMARIS. He also had several grandchildren. The family lived in Davenport before moving to Mason City.

In 1956, STRAIT was charged with lascivious acts with a child after being arrested for molesting several children. He pled guilty and paid a 500 dollar fine.

Proceedings were started against him for breaking the Sexual Psychopath Law, which was newly on the books in Iowa. This statute called for court-ordered committal to a state mental hospital of people not insane but who had "criminal propensities." Upon examining STRAIT, a Waterloo psychiatrist stated that he did not fit the legal definition of a criminal sexual psychopath.

In 1963, STRAIT was arrested for assault with intent to rape a Mason City woman, who fought him off. At that time, Cerro Gordo County Attorney David J. BUTLER recommended application of the law which would require STRAIT's committal to a state hospital as a sex deviant. STRAIT was unable to raise the three thousand dollar bond.

Earl STRAIT found his 80-year-old father, Elgin Hobert STRAIT, dead in his bed in the basement of the elder STRAIT'S Mason City home [1302 S. Hampshire Avenue] on March 18, 1977. A widower who lived alone, STRAIT had died from a single shotgun blast to the back of the head.

It was said that STRAIT had been carrying $1,000 in a money belt at the time of his death. When his body was found, the money belt was empty.

The STRAIT murder was the first case in which the police department, having exhausted all investigative techniques, consulted a psychic investigator.

"We couldn't find the murder weapon," former Police Chief Wes GREENAN said. "The psychic told us to go east of the 190-something mile marker on the interstate until we found kids playing around a windmill. She said the murder weapon would be close to that."

The police took the psychic's advice and went to the 190-mile marker on Interstate 35. To the east, they found some children playing near a windmill lawn ornament, and just as the officers' hopes were getting high, they realized that also near that windmill was the North Iowa Landfill.

Over two years after STRAIT'S death a Cerro Gordo grand jury was convened in June of 1979 by County Attorney Rich TOMPKINS to consider evidence in three cases of unusual deaths, including STRAIT'S. His death was designated an "unsolved murder," with no suspects who were named.

Elgin Hobert STRAIT'S murder remains unsolved to this day.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2011



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