9803ME Cold Case Iowa

Cold Cases in Lyon County, Iowa

Wilma June Nissen
Wilma June Nissen
Wilma June Nissen
23 YOA
Lyon County, Iowa
Case # 78-06487
October 4, 1978

On the morning of Oct. 4, 1978, a telephone company employee stumbled upon Wilma June Nissen’s body while laying cable near West Lyon School on Highway 182. Nissen’s body, which investigators believe was dumped between July and August of that year, was so severely decomposed that her face was unrecognizable. Her lower jaw was missing, and only two whole teeth remained in her skull. She would not be identified by name until almost 30 years later.

6 Responses to Lyon County
john says:
January 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Back in 77, a couple of friends and I decided to go camping in Gitchie Manitou, it was a typical fun get scared camping trip. In the spring of 78. Todd, one of my friends that was with in the 77 trip, Asked if I knew how to get to Gitchie in a car. We had hiked from my house in 77. His friend Dean had a car and Todd said they wanted to drive to Gitchie and asked if I show them the way. It was Friday after some school event. By the time we go to Gitchie it was dark. We parked the car on the north side of the park. And started hiking across the field, Heading to the rock building with a fireplace. As we were walking we heard some voices that seemed like they were just over a hill or on the other side of some trees or bushes. It was a girl arguing with a guy. It sounded like they were wrestling, He was demanding something and she was saying no. they went back and forth a bit. And we here a second male voice asking the other guy to leave her alone. Not very authorative but he was consistant. The guy kept after the girl, Demanding something and seemed very angry. She kept saying no. the second guy kept pleading to the guy to leave her alone. There was a bit of silence and it seemed like the guy had dispersed the situation. Then we heard a shotgun blast. And the girl screamed. Then her voice was silenced with multiple shotgun blast.
We ran back to the car being as quite as we could, when we got to the car I remember thinking that we were close enough for them to hear the car starting. But I think we got in the car and drove up to the road. Then stopped. We didn’t have our lights on. Waited for a minute or 2 discussing what we heard. We saw car lights leaving the area the shots came from and they headed through the park to the south entrance. They stopped for a minute near the entrance. Then proceeded to the park gate. They turned south and drove away. We decided that it was safe to go check out where they were in the park so we drove over to the south entrance. We drove in the park and 50 to 100 yards in, we were surprised that a truck was parked along side the road.(In the same area that the car stopped). But we didn’t see the car lights hit any vehicles. There were 2 guys standing at the back of the truck. Todd and I told Dean to turn around and get us out of there. Todd was in the passenger seat and I was in the back of Dean’s black firebird or trans-am. He kept driving at them, didn’t think he had room to turn his car around. We drove right past them, and drove down to the camping area with the building and turned around and head back toward them and them, they stood there and watched us drive out. We went down the road and stopped to watch them and they started up there truck and started heading our way. We assumed they were going to chase us. So we took off. We turned on some back roads and got lost for a while. Maybe a half hour later we came up behind them on a gravel road. They had their one ton dually truck with a big cab-over camper parked on the side of the road. Todd and Dean yelled that they were in the ditch. I could see the truck but not them. Then they said he’s tossing something. I asked if it was a girl. They said No. as they got closer they were both looking in the ditch and said Shirt at the same time. I could see the guy getting into the passenger side of the truck, just as we were passing. As soon we passed they gave chase. I watched them through the back window. And they gained on up fast. There was a culvert that Dean slowed down for. One of those that sends you airborne if you hit them to fast. Dean slowed down and they didn’t and there whole camper went airborne and they almost landed on us. Seems like that’s when I got the license plate number 9803ME. They nearly lost control of their truck and camper. But they gained right back up to us and were trying to ram us. We end up on pavement and Dean’s car pulled away with ease. Seems like the road just when from gravel to pavement. I don’t remember any turns before the pavement. We lost them and ourselves again. But ended up on a highway that was taking us back to Brandon. Sure enough we came up behind them again on the pavement there was a couple cars in between us. We drove past the Beaver Valley Church and we knew where we were. When we came up to the stop sign for the highway 16 to Brandon the truck when straight, one of the cars followed and went straight. We had planned to go tell the Brandon Police what we heard and saw. But decided to keep following the truck. both Dean and Todd knew the road and where it came out. At the next stop sign north of the interstate, the truck went straight again heading toward Garretson. The car behind him turned west toward Corson. We didn’t feel comfortable right behind them so we turned toward Corson too. We went up a little ways and pulled over in a parking area alongside the road like a county sand pile for sanding icy roads. Todd and Dean knew where they were. And after sitting a minute we went back to follow the truck again. I mile or so north they were on the side of the road again next to a culvert. We drove past slow and checked the plate number. But we didn’t see anyone in the truck. We went up a mile and turned around. When we came back they had switched sides of the road, and had their truck in the ditch facing south. They had their headlights pointing down into the creek coming out of the culvert. One of the guys was knee deep in the crick bent over washing his arms. The other was all wet crossing the fence going back to the truck. We headed back to Brandon to tell the police.
Todd and Dean told me that Dean’s brother was a policeman and we went to the Pizza Parlor where the police had there lights going. Dean said that he’d talk to his brother and we should stay in the car. When Dean came back he said that they were investigating a bombing and that were where supposed to go home. But that he had told them our story.

I never heard back from the police. Never heard of a girl that got murdered. Until 6 months later, On the way driving to school over roller coaster hills. It came over the radio. That some girl was found in a ditch that was shot 5 times with a shotgun. And that she had been sitting there 3 to 6 months. My radio cut out and lost signal in the bottom of hills. I tried other stations but didn’t hear it again. I got to school all excited but no one had heard the radio announcement that I heard. And I was adjusting the dial when I first heard it. And wasn’t sure which station it was. But nobody heard anything about it. I stopped by KELO in Sioux falls and asked if they played the announcement and the guy I talked to said that he monitored the other stations and he never heard anything about it. He might have given me the idea that it could have been a Minnesota Station. But He never heard it.
Years passed and I had told the story several times. I think it was at a 5 yr reunion or a party after that I had told the story and Todd was surprised that I had still remembered 9803ME. He confirmed that it was the plate number. I went down to Gitchie the next day and tried to figure out where we were that night. Things looked different and I didn’t feel like I found where we were standing when we heard what sounded like the girls last breathe. I was in the fireplace building and it was run down. A lady walking her dog stopped in and we talked for a while. I told her the story and that I was just trying to put the pieces together. She said that there was a murder where we were standing. And that blood was splattered all over the walls and shells were left. And that it happened several yrs earlier. She said that the police have all the evidence. And told me where the station was. I went to the Larchwood Sheriff dept. and asked the lady there if she knew of a girl found in a ditch that was shot several times with a shotgun. She thought that there was a girl and that the guys to talk to were at the main station but it was too late to find someone that knew. And that she would check and see in the morning since that’s where she would be. I talked to her the next day. And there was a girl but they thought they knew who killed her. And that some farmers had said he found the girls shirt while walking down the farm road. They seemed to think he really knew who did kill her or was a part of the murder somehow. She said that she was shot with a shotgun but that she was shot after she was dead. Thinking that they were trying to dispose of the body by shooting it up. Or something like that. She assured me that my story had nothing to do with it and didn’t even want the copy of the story.

Decades passed and I keep telling the story. One friend decided that we should go up and look for her, maybe see if it was a Minnesota Radio Station. A yr later I was buying a new used truck and got carfax online to check out the truck. I checked out the truck and was playing with the carfax program when I remembered 9803ME so I plugged it in. but nothing showed. The next day there was a new thing on the internet about someone solving a 30 yr old cold case with DNA. I though wow I didn’t know they had collected DNA stuff 30 yrs ago. I searched cold case Iowa. And shortly found the only cold case near Gitchie. And after looking at the info. It sure seems like she’s the girl we hear that night. I called and told them the story. And recalled them when I’d remember little details. They told me that Dean had passed away and that Todd vaguely remembers the story. And that 9803ME didn’t match a state license format. And that something was wrong with the timeline of my story and Wilma June Nissen.
I was in Brandon helping mom a yr or so ago. And went down to Gitchie and retraced what I could. I stopped into the police station to see if they had a date to the Brandon Bombing. I figured that they already heard my story from the Lyon County Sheriff. But they hadn’t heard anything. So I told them the story. Turns out that Barry(Dean’s brother) was still a policeman. But in 78 he was just on a ”ride a long”. And wasn’t really a policeman til 87. They also looked up some tickets from 78 and found plate numbers with the same format. Even found a ticket written on a Toyota with 9805ME as the number. And that the night that the bombing happened was April 7th 1978.

Conley says:
January 23, 2016 at 10:47 pm
I can’t believe all that information you all had and they couldn’t investigate and find out what happened ?

John says:
January 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm
There was an investigator with the sheriff’s office that was working with it. He told me that the records from that era were manually written and old details weren’t all updated into the current computer system. He said he couldn’t search the plate number from that era. And asked if I had the vin number. It made me laugh. Maybe a lack of budget. From my businessman point of view. Its would be hard to take funds that could help a present situation and apply it to a 35+yr old case. I think that I have parts to the puzzle. And hoping that others people will have parts of the puzzle and come forward with there puzzle piece. With the new book out Gitchie Girl. I’m thinking it will bring back memories from back then. I think of it as drafting. Because my story and this cold case are just a few years after the 73 murders.

John says:
January 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm
You just read a more current version of the story from start to finish. The info I gave the sheriff was in parts out of order because I’d remember details just out of the blue. And write them down. Then send them to the police. Like yesterday I remembered some of the details from the argument. The non agressive guy said just let her have it. The aggressive guy demanded that she give it to him. In the silence before the first shot. It sounded like a car door opening. In the nano second before the first shot. The non aggressive voice yelled no. The second shot was mid scream. The rest of the shots were quick like semi automatic not like a pump shotgun. They were very loud.

Conley says:
January 24, 2016 at 3:15 pm
Have you talked to the Lyon County Sheriff recently ?

John says:
January 24, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Not in a yr or so. I assume they’ll get this. The truck had a brake light that didn’t work. And a light on the top of the camper would go out. It was on the opposite side of the brake light.real recognizable when we followed them. The truck was blue and white chevy or gmc

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