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Hearts join for Jake Wilson in La Porte City (with photos)

LA PORTE CITY — As the sun set Monday night, hundreds of candles held by hundreds of people cast a glow over Wolf Creek Landing.

“If you guys could only see what I can see from up here — it’s absolutely amazing,” speaker and organizer Anthony Gasco said, standing on a trailer to address the large crowd.

Wolf Creek is where Jake Wilson, 16, of La Porte City told his family he was headed before he disappeared the night of April 7.

MATTHEW PUTNEY, COURIER PHOTO EDITOR 

Julie Borton, left, shares a moment with Violet Hanna, 4, during a candlelight vigil for Jake Wilson at Wolf Creek Landing on Monday in La Porte City.

Monday marked one month since the teenager vanished without a trace. La Porte City residents didn’t let the anniversary go by unmarked, showing up en masse in blue shirts and decorating the park with blue balloons and ribbons, Jake’s favorite color.

“The family asked us to thank every one of you for coming out tonight and just showing support for a missing piece in their life — their son,” Gasco told the crowd.

Speakers during the hour-long vigil included everyone from law enforcement to Family and Children’s Council executive director Amanda Goodman, who implored the crowd to continue to share Jake’s information far and wide.

MATTHEW PUTNEY, COURIER PHOTO EDITOR 

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil for missing teen Jake Wilson at Wolf Creek Landing on Monday in La Porte City.

“We keep sharing his picture; we demand people see it,” Goodman said. “He’s not just some kid from La Porte City who’s missing. He’s Jake Wilson. Say his name; say it every day until he’s been found.”

Nearly every inch of Wolf Creek has been searched in the last 30 days, said Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson. Yet, he said, all of the good information investigators get still points there.

MATTHEW PUTNEY, COURIER PHOTO EDITOR 

Hundreds gathered for a candle light vigil for missing Jake Wilson at Wolf Creek Landing Monday, May 7, 2018, in La Porte City. The vigil was to show support for Jake’s family and friends and a reminder that he is in everyone’s thoughts as the search and investigation continues. 

“We’re continuing to remain open to the possibility that he’s not in the water,” Thompson said. “As hard as we hope for better information, it’s just not there yet.”

Over the past month, searchers have dealt with the full spectrum of Iowa spring weather: two snowstorms, hail and sleet as well as flooding and temperatures up to 80 degrees in recent days. La Porte City Police Chief Chris Brecher said floodwaters receding may mean they’ll be asking for volunteer searchers again in the next week or two.

MATTHEW PUTNEY, COURIER PHOTO EDITOR 

Julie Borton, left, shares a moment with Violet Hanna, 4, during a candle light vigil for Jake Wilson at Wolf Creek Landing Monday, May 7, 2018, in La Porte City, Iowa. The vigil was to show support for Jake’s family and friends and a reminder that he is in everyone’s thoughts as the search and investigation continues. 

He also noted operations to find Jake have been straining resources — it cost $10,000 just to clear Wolf Creek — and those who want to donate may call La Porte City Hall to donate to the La Porte City Fire Association to help with costs.

“Events like this kind of help keep things in the forefront,” Brecher said. “There’s still a lot of people here that care, and they’re willing to keep spreading Jake’s name and picture around. ... Lord willing, hopefully we find Jake.”

Speaker and organizer Danielle Gasco spoke to the resilience of those in the community who volunteered their time and money in the past month.

MATTHEW PUTNEY, COURIER PHOTO EDITOR 

Hundreds gathered for a candle light vigil for missing Jake Wilson at Wolf Creek Landing Monday, May 7, 2018, in La Porte City, Iowa. The vigil was to show support for Jake’s family and friends and a reminder that he is in everyone’s thoughts as the search and investigation continues. 

“Life is a gift; the people standing next to you are gifts,” she said. “I encourage you to keep strong, to rise up and be bold. Learn to love life every day.”

And there was one more thing people could do to help, Anthony Gasco told the crowd.

“You plaster his face all over the nation,” he said. “Let’s just bring him home.”


Local
breaking
One dead after train-tractor collision in North Iowa

WORTH COUNTY | One person died following a collision Tuesday morning between a tractor and a Canadian Pacific train.

Iowa State Patrol officials said the accident happened about 8 a.m. at a rail crossing on Ulmus Avenue in southern Worth County. The crossing is just north of Ulmus and 350th Avenue.

The driver of the tractor was killed. No other injuries were reported. The Iowa State Patrol is not releasing the name of the driver pending family notification. 

The crossing, northeast of Plymouth, is marked with a sign and a stop sign. The railroad tracks cross Ulmus, a gravel road which runs north and south, diagonally, from southwest to northeast. The train was travelling southwest.

The train left the scene after noon travelling southwest. The tractor was removed from the scene as well, leaving one tractor tire behind along with some debris. 

The accident is still under investigation by Iowa State Patrol. 

Worth County Sheriff's Office, Canadian Pacific officials, fire departments and EMS also responded to the accident. 


Crime-and-courts
topical top story
Iowa judge: Pedophile grandpa can't 'pay bills' with lottery winnings as civil suit proceeds

ELDORA | A judge left in place Monday a court-ordered hold on $100,000 in state lottery winnings for an Iowa man due to a civil lawsuit related to his criminal conviction.

Dean Hilpipre, who received probation earlier this year for sexually assaulting his 6-year-old granddaughter, claims he needs access to the funds to “pay bills,” court documents said.

During a hearing Monday in Hardin County Court, however, a judge left in place a temporary injunction on Hilpipre’s lottery winnings. The judicial order prevents someone from a certain action or forces a person to pay restitution to a victim.

Hilpipre, 61, was initially charged with two counts of felony second-degree sex abuse, which a plea deal amended to a lesser charge of lascivious acts with a child. In Iowa law, sexual assault and rape are charged as "sexual abuse."

The abuse occurred in Hilpipre's home in Alden and in the woods behind that property.

He won $100,000 through the state lottery about a month before he was sentenced at the Hardin County Courthouse. Hilpipre was sentenced to five years of probation.

Hilpipre civil suit

The victim's mother, Kasey Hilpipre, filed the lawsuit March 13 and is seeking $1 million in damages on behalf of her daughter.

In documents filed March 22 by Kasey Hilpipre's Des Moines-based attorney Roxanne Conlin, the victim “has a right to have her abuser punished in some way for his intentional tortious conduct.”

Amended Motion for Temporary Injunction

“The criminal justice system did virtually nothing to punish him and Plaintiff can never recover if her abuser is not made to pay for his intentional torts against her,” Conlin said, citing the plea agreement and probation sentence.

Conlin said Hilpipre shouldn't be allowed the lottery funds because she believes he has plans to move out of Alden and use the winnings to purchase a home in another part of the state.

A judge granted a temporary injunction on the lottery winnings in March

Dean Hilpipre is currently representing himself in the civil suit. As of Tuesday, he had not filed a response.

“He advised the court the he has been unable to find an attorney, but desires one,” Monday’s court documents said. “The Court informed him that he is in default, and the ramifications of a default judgment.”

In court proceedings, default means that a party has failed to take action. A default judgement is granted in favor of a party due to the inaction of another party.

Injunction on lottery winnings

The court also advised him that the he is not eligible for a court-appointed attorney in the matter because it is a civil – not criminal – case.

“The defendant's only objection to a continuation of the injunction is a statement that the lottery proceeds have been spent and that he needs to 'pay bills,'" court documents from the hearing said.

Dean Hilpipre is not listed in the federal court’s bankruptcy database.