The Iowa Newspaper Association this year initiated a state-wide print effort to highlight unsolved murder cases in Iowa.
Residents in Appanoose County are looking for answers to two unsolved murder cases: Chuck Deatsch, of rural Mystic, who was murdered April 28, 2008 and Ramona Jean Cox, of Moravia, who was murdered Sunday morning, April 22, 1962 in Des Moines.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the Daily Iowegian’s Chuck Deatsch cold case story by going to www.dailyiowegian.com and search Chuck Deatsch.
Cox, who graduated from Moravia High School in 1956, was found that Sunday morning in her first floor apartment at 1526 Woodland Ave. in Des Moines dead at the age of 24. At the time of her death it was reported she had been raped and her throat slashed with a hook-billed linoleum knife.
First cousin Francis Bennell, of Moravia, said Cox moved to Des Moines the same year she graduated from high school, 1956, and found a job working for a business in downtown Des Moines as a secretary.
Bennell said Cox was active in sports during high school playing basketball, worked on the family farm and was well liked in Des Moines.
“As far as I know. She was always very well liked. I liked her very much,” Bennell said. “And I felt bad when I heard that. Because you grow up with somebody and you really get to care for them, especially in our family. Everybody wants to help each other.”
Bennell, just one year in age behind Cox, said she was a stout woman, perhaps five foot eight inches in height and 130 pounds in weight with golden red hair.
Bennell said Cox got involved with a rough crowd and is convinced she knew the killer.
“They beat her up and finally killed her,” Bennell said. And it had to have been somebody that was pretty strong because she worked on the farm and all through school you know she played basketball and that kind of stuff so she would have been pretty strong, pretty athletic.”
Published reports indicate Cox put up a struggle and fought back against the assailant.
Published reports indicate Cox may have known the assailant and let him into her apartment through the front door. Or, because it was a warm, humid day, Cox could have left the bathroom window open which gave the assailant the opportunity to get inside.
Bennell said Cox decided to go to Des Moines to pursue a job and get away from “where her family knew everything that she was doing.”
At the time of her death, Cox was working as a secretary for C.D. Wilcox Company and part-time as a cashier for Ardan, then located at 12th and Locust Street.
Bennell said Cox after moving to Des Moines would return to Moravia to see the family and friends.
“She came less often as she got more into Des Moines things. She did less visiting at home,” Bennell said. “So, it was kind of an event when she did come home.”
Bennell said when Cox did came home she talked to her about partying and her job in Des Moines but never mentioned any acquaintance by name.
Published reports indicate Cox went to bars in the area like Tommie’s and the Woodland Tap.
“And she was pretty wild, I think, after she got up to Des Moines,” Bennell said. “And there she formed some bad relationships and she had gotten beat up a time or two. And of course we didn’t learn that until later.”
Bennell said Cox’s parents went to Des Moines to check on their daughter after not hearing from her for several weeks and were horrified with what they found. They implored her to come home to Moravia and find a job.
“Because they just thought it was too scary in Des Moines,” Bennell said. “But she said no, she wasn’t going to.”
Published reports indicate apartment neighbors and others witnessed a man leap from Cox’s apartment window and flee into the darkness. It was said the man ran down an alley.
The man was described as five feet nine inches tall wearing dark pants and a white shirt.
Bennell said there are no theories about who killed Cox and the police were not of any help.
Following Cox’s murder, Des Moines was filled with rumors and accusations concerning her case, published reports indicate. The then Polk County attorney, Harry Perkins Jr. and the then Des Moines police chief, Vear V. Douglas, appealed for information from the public but no one has ever been charged with Cox’s murder.
Statute of limitations do not apply to murder cases, which are never closed until they have been solved.