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The Disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit

Hello, my loyal true crime readers! I’m excited to present a guest post by Scott Fuller, the genius behind two true crime podcasts that you definitely need to check out: What Happened to Jodi? and Frozen Truth Podcast. What Happened to Jodi? and season three of Frozen Truth Podcast explore the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit, the case that Scott writes about below. Season one of Frozen Truth Podcast delves into the mysterious 1997 disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel and season two examines the 2011 disappearance of Ayla Reynolds. 

You can also find Frozen Truth Podcast on Facebook and Twitter

Make sure you read all the way to the end so you don’t miss out on an interview with Scott. 

Enjoy the guest post ~ Christine

Guest Post:

The Disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit

What happened to Jodi?

An entire generation in the upper midwest has been uneasily waiting for an answer to that question since 1995.

Jodi Huisentruit was a news anchor for KIMT-TV when she disappeared from the parking lot of her apartment complex in Mason City, Iowa on Tuesday June 27, 1995.

Law enforcement are certain she was forcibly abducted within the few seconds it would have taken Jodi to leave her apartment and unlock her car door after she was called by her co-worker from the TV station at 4:10 AM. Jodi was an hour late for work.

Police found some of Jodi’s belongings strewn about the parking lot next to her car: two earrings, two shoes, a hairdryer and her car key (which was bent from the struggle) among other items from Jodi’s purse.

Any other physical evidence is scarce. A partial palm print was found by police on Jodi’s car. It’s been revealed in the years since that police also recovered a hair from the scene (we don’t know precisely from where). No blood evidence was found at the scene.

Useful witness accounts are also sparse. A man reported to police he’d seen a van idling with its rear lights on in the same parking lot at about the same time. Some in the apartment complex later said they’d heard screams. Nobody called police.

While Jodi lived alone and was not known to have had any guests the night before, police found the toilet seat inside her apartment had been left up.

No arrests have ever been made in the case and no suspect has ever been linked via physical evidence, though a few have been considered by police.

Tony Jackson is currently serving time in a Minnesota prison for committing a violent rape spree in the Twin Cities area. Jackson was living very close to the TV station in Mason City at the time Jodi disappeared. Jackson confessed involvement in Jodi’s disappearance to a cell mate, but authorities have so far been unable to confirm his claims.

Tony Jackson

Tony Jackson Image

A local farm seed dealer, John Vansice, quickly became a prime suspect. Vansice met Jodi while they were neighbors in the same apartment complex. They became good friends in the year prior to her disappearance.

John Vansice

Image of John Vansice

Despite being several years older than Jodi, it was clear to everyone who knew both that Vansice was enamored with her. Vansice named his power boat after Jodi, which the two were on – along with a friend of Jodi’s and Vansice’s son – just a few days before she disappeared.

Vansice approached police and the media the morning Jodi disappeared claiming to be the last person to see her alive. He said Jodi had been in his apartment until about 9 PM the night before while the two watched a video Vansice had made of a birthday party he’d recently thrown for Jodi.

A myriad of other theories have been proposed to explain the disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit. As yet, none of them have closed the case.

Jodi’s case has been kept alive on a not-for-profit website – – run by a group of volunteers. They are journalists, private investigators and retired law enforcement who found that Jodi’s disappearance had become a part of their professional DNA at some point during their respective careers. She had never left any of them and so, in 2010, they decided they would never leave her either. They formed the website which has become the clearing house for all things related to Jodi’s disappearance.

Earlier this month the team made headlines after reporting on a search warrant executed by the Mason City Police Department in 2017 seeking GPS data from two vehicles believed to be connected to John Vansice.

Most are encouraged by the recent action in the case, though some wonder how much the MCPD could have learned from the GPS data. Others read the search warrant as being an extremely positive sign, assuming police may have sought the warrant based on some other as yet undisclosed specific information.

Cold cases are closing at a more frequent rate than ever before. I’m just one of so many who hope Jodi’s case will someday be another of the solved.

If her killer were a contemporary of Jodi’s, he would be 45 to 55 years old today. He would likely have connections to Iowa or Minnesota, including family property (possibly farm land). He may behave strangely around the anniversary of Jodi’s disappearance.

Jodi Huisentruit

Missing Person Jodi Huisentruit

If you have any information about the 1995 disappearance of Jodi Hueisentruit from Mason City, Iowa, contact the MCPD: (641) 421-3636

Interview with Scott Fuller

Q – First off, Scott, thank you for the excellent overview of Jodi’s disappearance. You created a podcast in 2017 called What Happened to Jodi? What sparked your interest in Jodi’s case? And what compelled you to move to podcasting as a communication platform? 

I once worked with one of Jodi’s colleagues here in the area. She introduced me to the case and we spent the afternoon huddled around a computer discussing theories (instead of actually working).

I first experimented with podcasting about 10 years ago without really knowing what I was doing. I’ve come to realize it’s by far my favorite medium. Podcasting combines many of my passions for writing, research and reporting with storytelling possibilities only achievable through audio.

Within a series, there’s the added element of meeting a deadline. It’s been absolutely addicting for me.

Q – What theory out there do you think is the most plausible explanation for what happened to Jodi? 

I’ve been very careful not to adopt a theory. In cases like Jodi’s, I tend to obsess over one or two key pieces of evidence instead.

Here, it’s the toilet seat.

We need to explain why the toilet seat was left up inside the apartment of a woman who lived alone and was not known to have any recent visitors. There are only three conceivable explanations:

1) Somebody was indeed with Jodi in her apartment the night before she disappeared

2) Jodi left the seat up (perhaps cleaning it)

3) Police bungled it (one officer left it up another noted it)

I discount #3 out of hand, both out of deference to the trained professionals at the scene and because it’s a practical non-starter.

#2 seems unlikely, given that Jodi got home late the night before and had to work early the next morning.

Which leaves #1. For me, that’s the screaming variable in Jodi’s case.

Q – You are now working on a new podcast project on the 1997 disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel called Frozen Truth Podcast. What does a typical day look like for you during case research and podcast production?

I spent several months becoming an expert in the case before I did anything else. I absorbed every piece of material I could find before reaching out to the key players for interviews, so I’m not spending a great deal of time researching now during production.

I like to have a draft episode recorded as early in the week as possible. I spend the next 4-5 days tweaking, editing and obsessing over every word and production element.

On Sunday, I let it go and move on to the next episode.

Q – Are there any future cases in the works for Scott Fuller?

Absolutely, but I’m not sure what they are yet. I’d love your readers’ suggestions.

Q – What are your three go-to true crime podcasts?

Can I give you seven or ten instead?

My ‘desert island three’ would be: Sword And Scale for the shock, In The Dark for the journalism, and Criminology for the research.

Q – What advice would you give someone who wants to start her or his own true crime podcast?

Always respect your listener’s time. Your podcast in their earbuds is the most personal form of mass communication there is. Your job is to make that experience meaningful for them in some way.

Q – What are some of the best ways for true crime fans to support your two podcasts: What Happened to Jodi? and Frozen Truth Podcast

Even with the amazing local media coverage my projects have received, 85% of my listeners still come from Apple Podcasts/iTunes. You hear every podcaster say it, but it’s true: a great way to show support for your favorite podcast is to leave a positive iTunes rating and review.

Really, the best way to show support for my podcast is to send the link to a friend. If you’ve done that, I know I’ve done my job.

Interested in missing person cases? Check out the disappearance of Stephanie Stewart and the vanishing of Lindsey Baum.

Liked it? Take a second to support Christine on Patreon!
Published inGuest PostsMissing Person FilesTrue Crime



  1. Todd Todd

    I’ve read a lot about this case, it’s sad and I hope it gets solved soon. My gut instincts are that Vansice is the culprit…, you never know in cases like this though.
    Hoping for closure

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Todd – I agree on all counts. I have my suspicions too and sure hope it gets solved soon. Thankfully there seems to be some movement in the case. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment!

  2. P Hargrove P Hargrove

    Another possibility about the toilet seat; whoever abducted her could have gone inside her apartment before leaving and used the toilet.

    Other thoughts:
    Was the apartment ever dusted for prints? Did her family or friends look at the apartment to determine if anything was missing? Is a positive I.D. possible with a partial print; when was the last database check for matching prints?

    Is it still possible to check DMV for owners of white vans in ’95? What about rentals?

    Are the neighbors still alive who heard screams? Were they actually awake and out of bed?

    Were any businesses nearby open that early? Was the time definitively before 5am? Was it still dark? Were anymore of her personal items found during searches around town? Was the public ever provided a list of personal items she normally took to work and a picture of the kind of bag she carried?

    How many abandoned homes in ’95 have basements, wells, sheds, or barns in the city?

    How many miles to the next jurisdiction/city/county line? Did any information sharing occur between police departments/sheriff/state police?

    Were any similar abductions/crimes committed within 100 miles?

    • Christine Christine

      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughtful insights!

      I wonder if someone who abducted Jodi would take the time to use her washroom afterwards? I would imagine they would want to get out of the area ASAP. But you never know. Her apartment was really close by and not many people were around because it was so early in the morning.

      I’ve passed all your other questions on to Scott Fuller, the author of the guest post and the creator of the podcast Frozen Truth. Season three is all about Jodi’s disappearance. If you haven’t already, you should check it out.

  3. Dan Dan

    Vansice is one shady character, creepy even! Why did he suddenly leave town for Arizona? His demeanor during all the interviews was very suspect. I think MCPD kind of bungled this investigation from the beginning.

  4. Cody Cody

    I think for John Vansice the ski trip to Iowa City with Jodi was his way of trying to win her over. I think the “big night” was when he had her over to watch the video of her surprise birthday party (which he coordinated). I think he told her how he felt about her and possibly tried to come on to her. I think she turned him down and he could not, would not accept that. The next morning he killed her. Her body may have been vaporized/cremated at the local hospital or buried into a construction zone which is why she hasn’t been found.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Cody. Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts on the case. Vansice is still indeed a suspect in my opinion and you bring up some good points for our readers to mull over. Thanks again!

  5. Cody Cody

    My pleasure, I’m impressed with your site, so Thank You.

    Now I’m reading & digging more into the case and it may be that Jodi didn’t even go over to Vansices house the night before. I now think the actual “date night” was the night of her birthday party when I think he manipulated Jodi into coming over after the party and she rejected him. She was at a golf outing & social the night before, and may have had a date over afterwards. A witness reported someone banging on Jodis door at that time saying “I know you’re in there Jodi”. She may have found another man and by the way she was now driving a Mazda Miata (on a small market morning anchor salary) which tipped John over the edge as well. The reason he claimed to the police she was over the night before was to explain any away potential dna evidence. No one has ever corroborated the visit the night before. His behavior the morning she disappeared is extremely suspicious and someone claimed he told them she was missing even before it was public knowledge.

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