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After '48 Hours', Jodi Huisentruit tips pick up at Mason City Police Department

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MASON CITY — Activity in the Jodi Huisentruit case has picked up since a CBS news documentary aired Dec. 15, officials said.

“We have received at least two dozen calls/emails,” Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley told the Globe Gazette. “We are still working to follow up on the information.”

Brinkley said he couldn't comment on the information that had been received since it involves an ongoing investigation, but added that there has been more information to sort through recently. 

Jodi Huisentruit episode of '48 Hours' will show new footage of 'person of interest'

“We hope that the exposure the case received through the ‘48 Hours’ feature will be useful in obtaining additional information about the case from people who may not yet have contacted law enforcement,” he said.

“48 Hours” and reporter Jim Axelrod hoped to reveal new information into the more than two-decade search for Huisentruit in the hour-long episode titled “FindJodi.”

"48 Hours" is an investigative news program focusing on crime and justice cases, including cold cases.

Brinkley hopes participation in the “48 Hours” episode “will prove to have been useful for our investigation because it helped us to get additional information about Jodi’s disappearance.”

The show boasted "never-before-seen footage" of John Vansice, a man police have said was a person of interest in the case.

A Mason City Police Department search warrant in March 2017 named Vansice and sought GPS data from two vehicles, 1999 Honda Civic and 2013 GMC 1500. The warrant remains sealed to the public through Sept. 28, 2019, meaning no other information is available. 

Caroline Lowe with FindJodi.com said she was intrigued by the search warrant because “it's the first thing we'd seen in years of any kind of official document.”

In the show, Brinkley spoke briefly about the search warrant but would not comment on whether Vansice or Tony Jackson, a convicted serial rapist who lived in Mason City at the time of Huisentruit's disappearance, are still persons of interest in the case.

“The search warrant was not as fruitful as we had hoped,” Brinkley told the Globe Gazette. 

Brinkley told "48 Hours" that the police didn't get any information from the search warrant that was useful.

“That piece didn't pan out like we'd hoped,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said he would not talk about specifics in this case because he doesn't want to “let the cat outta the bag.” He told Axelrod that he thinks “we’re very close.”

“So, does that mean we're talkin' about weeks, months?” Axelrod asked.

“I don't think it's fast,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley would not tell the Globe Gazette whether the department is closer to solving the case.

“It is my responsibility to make sure that we use all of our resources and that we exhaust all reasonable approaches as we investigate the case,” he said. “We have to follow where the information takes us and that will determine whether or not we are able to put this case together one day.”

Since Brinkley arrived at MCPD, he said the department continues to get calls that are added to the investigation.

Reporters from "48 Hours" began reporting in Mason City days after Huisentruit disappeared on June 27, 1995. When the case stalled, CBS said its footage was shelved and never aired.

The footage has since been pulled and shows Vansice meeting with Huisentruit's sister, JoAnn Nathe, CBS said, noting Vansice also describes his friendship with Jodi in the recording.

Skipper: Chance encounter and a lasting memory in Jodi Huisentruit case

In 1995, Vansice told CBS he and Huisentruit were so close, he'd give her the shirt off his back.

“I just loved watching her have fun.... I tried to watch over her. I tried to check on her once in a while. Not all the time. Just once in a while. See how’s she’s getting along,” Vansice said. “If you ever go in her apartment and you see men’s clothes, they’re mine. If I had a shirt she liked, you know I’d wear it for a while and then I’d give it to her.”

Vansice, who now lives in Arizona, is believed to be one of the last people to see the then-27-year-old KIMT anchor alive.

He videotaped a birthday party he threw for Huisentruit just days before her disappearance. Vansice said Huisentruit was at his house the night before her disappearance, watching that tape.

He claimed he passed a polygraph test shortly after she disappeared.

“In my mind, there's a good chance that he is linked to Jodi's case, some way or other,” Nathe said in the show. “It's just that he was so obsessed with her.”

In 2004, police checked the basement of a home formerly occupied by Vansice, but said the search yielded no new information.

It has been 23 years since Huisentruit was last seen. She was declared legally dead in 2001, and no one has been charged in her disappearance.

Axelrod knocked on Vanscie’s door. He answered but said he did not want to talk and closed the door.

The day she disappeared, Huisentruit told a colleague she was on her way to work early that morning but never arrived. Police found signs of a struggle outside her apartment in Mason City.

"48 Hours" producers approached people with FindJodi.com and began working on the episode after attending the dedication of three billboards June 5 in Mason City. That date would have been Huisentruit’s 50th birthday.

Four billboards featuring Huisentruit's photo and the message "Somebody knows something...is it YOU?" were installed in high-traffic areas around Mason City by FindJodi.com, a website devoted to solving the case.

Since FindJodi.com was launched in 2003, the website has received several hundred tips and leads.

Anyone with information about Huisentruit’s disappearance is asked to contact Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen at 641-421-3636.

Photos: Jodi Huisentruit disappearance

Background: Who is John Vansice? 

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Contact Courtney at 641-421-0534 or on Twitter @CourtneyFiorini.

 

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