Terri McCauley, a young mother of two, was last seen alive getting into a white Chevy Nova in a Sioux City parking lot in the early morning of Sept. 26, 1983. Before climbing into the car, McCauley told the two friends she was with, that she was going on a date. The white male driving the Nova headed north on Omaha Street and then west onto West Eighth Street. She would not be seen again until her body was found on Oct. 6.
A resident walking his dog stumbled across McCauley’s partially decomposed body in the wooded vicinity of 33rd and Pavonia Street. She lay along an unkempt dirt road, mostly naked. She had been killed point-blank by a 20-gauge shotgun blast to the face. Her shirt and shoes were found near her body. Investigators collected evidence for DNA analysis, but due to very hot temperatures and decomposition to the body, they were not able to find much usable evidence.
McCauley’s friends were interviewed and cleared and the case seemed to hit a dead end until three months later. While investigating a case where a man had fired a shotgun into a former girlfriend’s house, police were able to connect a white Chevy Nova, a 20-gauge shotgun and other evidence, to establish a suspect in McCauley’s case.
Though circumstantial evidence seemed to point to the Nova’s driver, an exhaustive search of the vehicle produced no proof she’d ever been in it. Waiting to obtain more solid evidence that would ensure a conviction, prosecutors held out on charging the suspect. Since the crime, new evidence has come to light that has caused investigators to look at other suspects as well. They continue to follow leads.
If you or anyone you know has information regarding Terri McCauley’s unsolved murder, please contact the Sioux City Police Department Investigative Services Bureau at 712-279-6390.
Find out more about this and other unsolved homicides at www.IowaColdCases.org.