October 31, 2014

Mason City mayor says former officer’s claims about Huisentruit case are baseless

Mason City’s mayor says he believes there’s no credible information that would link two current members of the city’s police department and a former investigator with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to the disappearance and possible murder of former KIMT television anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.

Former police officer Maria Ohl said last week that she had received credible information from an informant implicating Lt. Frank Stearns and Lt. Ron Vande Weerd of the city’s police department and retired D.C.I. agent Bill Basler were somehow involved in Huisentruit’s disappearance.

Ohl was placed on paid administrative leave last year and terminated last month. She says the reason she was terminated was her handling of the Huisentruit information. Mayor Eric Bookmeyer says it was unfortunate that Ohl made the allegations after a Civil Service Commission meeting last week.

Bookmeyer says he thinks the timing was wrong and seemed to be a “reach for attention” by Ohl. He says the most important thing for the public to know is that all the information is going to the Civil Service Commission meeting next, and it’s all public information.

Bookmeyer says information provided to city officials shows that Ohl’s allegations are baseless. He says he’s been briefed by police and the council has sat down with the police chief. Bookmeyer says city officials are comfortable with the credibility of the information provided to them. He also points to the D.C.I.’s statement late last week that they can’t find any credible link between the officers and Huisentruit’s disappearance.

Bookmeyer says the two police officers remain on duty. “You feel for the officers that were named, given what we know at the moment,” Bookmeyer says. The Civil Service Commission has set next Tuesday at 9:00 A.M. as the date for a hearing regarding Ohl’s termination.

Bookmeyer made his comments on the “Ask the Mayor” program on AM-1300 KGLO this morning. You can listen back to the program by heading to the local news page at :www.discovernorthiowa.com.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City