Leads run out in 'gangland style killing' of two in Council Bluffs
Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

Leads run out in 'gangland style killing' of two in Council Bluffs

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COUNCIL BLUFFS | Policeman John Stephens, 32, and Paul Rayer, 51, were shot and killed on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 1967, during a robbery of “Club 64,” an upscale steakhouse about one half-mile east of Council Bluffs’ city limits.

Stephens moonlighted there as a plain-clothes security guard. Robbery appeared to be the motive.

Stephens was to accompany Rayer, the restaurant’s manager, to the Council Bluffs Savings Bank about 2 a.m. after the business closed and daily receipts were counted.

Both bodies were found in the restaurant’s office about five hours later when a club employee arrived for regular cleanup work. Each victim was shot multiple times. Evidence indicated that there were two shooters, and the shooting was what police called a “gangland style slaying.”

About $1,500 was missing from the night’s receipts. There were no witnesses, and officers found no signs of forced entry.

It was not known whether the assailants hid somewhere in the building or somehow gained entry after the dinner club closed.

It was believed both men were shot to prevent their identification of the robbers, and authorities theorized Stephens may have recognized the gunmen.

New evidence caused the case to be reopened in 1987 in Missouri, but with no solid evidence authorities needed to make an arrest and pursue a conviction, the case went cold.


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