Sheriff’s Office Marks Anniversary Of Body Discovery

Rural Inwood, Iowa — This Sunday is the 37th anniversary of a grim discovery in rural Lyon County. On October 4th, 1978, the badly-decomposed body of a young woman was found in a ditch southwest of the West Lyon School in Lyon County.
wilma nissen
Since no one in the area knew who she was, she remained a “Jane Doe” for 27 years. In 2006, some fingerprint records from an arrest in California matched up with those taken from the body, and her name was released. She was identified as Wilma June Nissen from California. A month later, a woman came forth identifying herself as Nissen’s daughter, Crystal Irvin Haas. Haas came to Rock Rapids, where her mother’s body had been buried and finally got to pay her last respects.

However, the case is still open. There is very little information about Nissen’s whereabouts between early in 1978 and the time her body was found in October, 1978.

We caught up with the lead investigator on the cold case, Chief Deputy and Detective Jerry Birkey of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office. He tells us the current status of the case.

He tells us where they run into a snag regarding the whereabouts of Nissen.

He says there may be another factor contributing to the delay.

A $10,000 reward remains in effect for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Nissen’s death. You can contact Birkey with any information in regard to the crime at (712) 472-8311 or via email at

Click here for more information about the case.