The mystery of a dead woman found 27 years ago in the far northwest corner of Iowa got a little bit clearer today — but many questions remain. The body was found on October 4, 1978 in a roadside ditch located one mile south and one and a half miles west of the West Lyon School. The upper and lower jaw of the woman were damaged and the body was partly decomposed, so identification was difficult.
But Lyon County Sheriff Blythe Bloemendaal says the now know the woman’s name. He says the body has been identified as Wilma June Nissen, and he says she also has several alias, including Wilma Wellington and Wilma Boots. Bloemendaal says they were able to use the federal fingerprint identification system to find out her identity. He says the system kicked out some matches to two thumbprints to a possible match in California and a positive I.D. was made by a criminologist in Des Moines.
The computerized federal fingerprint database was not available years ago and Bloemendaal says it was an important tool. He says, “Advanced technology is definitely the key to getting us where we’re at today.” Bloemendaal says Nissen was 23-years and 10-months old when she died, and having her name may now help them solve this nearly three-decades old murder. He says putting a name on the victim has opened new doors to start a new homicide investigation.
The sheriff says they have some ideas, but he says it’s still a 27-year-old case and they will to start at “square one” and go from there. Bloemendaal says the last know address for Nissen was in California. He says she was picked up in Long Beach on a prostitution and petty theft charge, but he says they do have a gap in her life from 1975 to 1978.
Bloemendaal says they’re looking for any relative or acquaintance to help fill the void of information. The sheriff says they’ve almost exhausted all avenues in finding any living relatives of Nissen, and he would like to hear from anyone who may’ve known her. He says, “I’ll take anybody who had a conversation with her period, just so that we can get a feel for who she was, and how she comes to be in ditch clear over here in Lyon County.”
Bloemendaal says Nissen was born in San Francisco, but he hasn’t found any link to put her in Iowa. He asks that anyone with information on Nissen call his office at 712-472-2521.