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Former Mason City investigator targeted in Huisentruit sign vandalism hopes vandals will be identified, arrested and prosecuted

A veteran independent investigative reporter says that he has learned how and when a billboard soliciting the public’s help in solving a decades-old Mason City murder case was vandalized this past weekend.

Posted: Jan 3, 2020 7:01 AM
Updated: Jan 3, 2020 7:03 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa  - A veteran independent investigative reporter says that he has learned how and when a billboard soliciting the public’s help in solving a decades-old Mason City murder case was vandalized this past weekend. 

The billboard soliciting tips in the case of missing former KIMT morning television anchor Jodi Huisentruit has been in place for going on two years.

Cold Case investigator Steve Ridge says two adults dressed in dark clothing parked in a rear alley behind a tattoo parlor and hoisted an aluminum ladder in place at 11:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve. 

One subject held the ladder while the other sprayed “Frank Stearns” in large letters and “machine shed” in smaller print.  Ridge said dozens of cars passed within feet of billboard while it was being vandalized.  In addition, Ridge says the parking lot of the adjacent bar was full of cars and trucks.

Mason City Police Lt. Frank Stearns underwent public scrutiny back in 2011 when a former Mason City police officer claimed that Stearns and two other law enforcement officials may have had some involvement in Huisentruit’s disappearance or a subsequent cover-up. 

At the time, an official investigation found no validity to the claims.  Stearns has since retired from the Mason City Police Department and is working part-time for the city as a death scene investigator.

Ridge spoke with Frank Stearns at his residence today.  The spacious rural residence does include a large detached building.  However, Ridge points out that Stearns lived elsewhere in 1995.  Ridge says Stearns expressed hope that the vandals would be identified, arrested and prosecuted.

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