Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



Iowa Cold Case: Norma Jean Horgen
Clear Lake, Lake Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
September 10, 1966

Norma Jean HORGEN, born February 15, 1948, grew up in St. Ansgar and had been a cosmetology student in Mason City.

Aged 18 years at the time of her death, Norma Jean's body was found floating in Clear Lake near the northwest shore on September 10, 1966.

~ ~ ~ ~

Austin Daily Herald News
Austin, Minnesota
Saturday, September 17, 1966

No Progress in Solving Death of St. Ansgar Girl

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A three-hour meeting of law enforcement official Thursday night failed to develop any new leads or theories in the mysterious drowning of a beautiful 18-year-old cosmetology student.

Cerro Gordo County Atty. B. Michael DUNN said Friday authorities "are at the same place as before" in their investigaion of the death of Norma Jean HORGEN.

Her body was found by a fisherman about 8:15 p.m. last Saturday in about four feet of water, 50 feet from the nortwest shore of Clear Lake.

DUNN said some of the 75 to 80 persons questioned in the case would be re-questioned in an effort to clarify discrepancies, especially in the time element.

Miss HORGEN, a student at the Mason City School of Cosmetology, was seen by a girl friend about midnight last Friday, five blocks from Miss HORGEN'S apartment in Mason City. Several student friends reported her missing Saturday afternoon.

The two key questions still left unanswered were how Miss HORGEN got from Mason City to Clear Lake and where she consumed the alcohol found in her bloodstream.

Friends had said Miss HORGEN did not drink.

Dr. A. J. KERLITZKA, county medical examiner, said the alcoholic content of the victim's blood did not indicate intoxication, and she had not consumed an excessive amount.

Sheriff Gerald D. ALLEN said she probably drank "hard liquor" because, her friends said, she did not like beer.

ALLEN said authorities still were not certain the drowning was not an accident. But, he added, "I wouldn't go so far as to say it wasn't an accident."

Miss HORGEN'S body was fully clothed when found. She had no been sexually molested and had not been beaten.

Her mother, who lives in St. Ansgar, told police the girl could not swim but could float.

[Norma Jean was the daughter of Leona (ERDMAN) HORGEN and the late Kenneth HORGEN of St. Ansgar.]

~ ~ ~ ~

St. Ansgar Enterprise
St. Ansgar, Mitchell County, Iowa
September of 1966

Norma Jean Horgen Drowning Victim in Clear Lake Saturday

Investigation is continuing concerning the drowning of Miss Norma Jean HORGEN, 18, daughter of Mrs. Leona HORGEN of rural St. Ansgar which occurred this past weekend in Clear Lake.

The body was found floating about 50 feet from the north shore by a fisherman Saturday, September 10, [1966,] at about 8:15 P.M.

Miss HORGEN, a 1966 graduate of St. Ansgar Senior High School, and since June has been living in Mason City where she was enrolled at the Mason City School of Cosmetology.

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, September 13, [1966] at the Immanuel Lutheran Church here [St. Ansgar] with the Reverend Norman BETKE officiating. Burial was in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery.

Miss HORGEN is survived by her mother, four sisters, Mrs. Keith (Karen) JASPERS of Solon, Janice of Anaheim, California, and Dorothy and Sherlyn at home; three brothers also at home are Russell, Keith and Darwin.

~ ~ ~ ~

26 years later, Las Vegas veterinarian John Rea WALLACE, 44, was arrested and charged with the first-degree drowning murder of Noram Jean HORGEN.

WALLACE had been a student at Mason City's Junior College in 1966 when Norma Jean was a cosmetology student. He had been residing in Las Vegas since the mid-1970's.

In July of 1992, WALLACE entered a plea of innocence to the charge and was freed on a $100,000 bond. Although his trial was scheduled for September of 1992, Cerro Gordo County District Court Judge Gilbert BOVARD granted the defense's motion to delay the trial.

Randall MAINOR, WALLACE'S attorney, accused Cerro Gordo County Sheriff's Lt. Larry MASON of "outrageous conduct" and challenged the completeness of the State's evidence. MAINOR argued that the State's evidence had been either lost or withheld. Additionally, MAINOR contended that the State withheld evidence about other suspects in the case from the grand jury.

Judge BOVARD dismissed murder charges against WALLACE in February of 1993. He ruled that the evidence had indeed been withheld from the grand jury and that Lt. MASON took part in the grand jury deliberations, which is against the law. Therefore the indictment was tainted.

WALLACE, a decorated Vietnam War veteran with no known criminal history, returned to Las Vegas where he operated the Spring Valley Animal Hospital.

Norma Jean HOGREN'S murder remains unsolved to this day.

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.