MASON CITY | Citing an ongoing investigation, the Mason City Police Department has refused to release additional information related to the deaths of two Mason City residents this week.
The Globe Gazette has been seeking additional details which should be available publicly, including the time and recording of the request for a welfare check to 327 27th Ave. S.W. Tuesday, where police say they discovered the bodies of Kenneth and Kathleen Hackbart while responding to that call.
The request for a welfare check is missing from the police department's online log, which lists daily calls for service. The call log is public information.
Mason City Police Capt. Mike McKelvey said in an email Thursday he would pass the request for call log information and call recordings to the legal department.
“Because this is an open murder investigation, all media info requests will need to specifically go to the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office,” McKelvey said in the email.
Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen did not respond to an email or two phone messages from the Globe Gazette Thursday.
An Iowa Attorney General's opinion issued in 1982 mandates the public has access to the "date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident."
The Globe Gazette asked the police department to indicate statutes that would prohibit releasing this information.
Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley believes the items included in the request are part of the investigative record for this incident, and therefore not public record.
“This is an ongoing criminal investigation that has been referred to the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution,” Brinkley said via email Thursday. “As such, the Mason City Police Department will not be releasing any additional public information about this case.”
While the department’s releases did indicate the time, date and specific location of the incident, as required by statute, they did not outline the “immediate facts and circumstances,” as required, Globe Gazette Editor David Mayberry said.
The newspaper believes that should include when the alleged homicide occurred, who contacted law enforcement, when law enforcement was contacted, what prompted the welfare check, if a weapon was recovered and if the Hackbarts were stabbed once or multiple times.
News releases from the police department did not specify how the Hackbarts died. That information was listed in an amended court filing.
“I cannot agree that the department came close to the spirit, intent and purpose of the law in this instance,” Mayberry told Brinkley in an email. “You have information the public has a right to know.”
Brinkley replied the two organizations "may have to agree to disagree."
“I believe that your understanding of immediate facts and circumstances is different than ours," Brinkley said.