An Iowa television news anchor had a “secret final fling” with a mystery man just 10 days before going missing nearly three decades ago, according to a private investigator.
Cold-case sleuth Steve Ridge has been probing the mysterious disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit, a news anchor for KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa, who was 27 when she vanished in the early hours of June 27, 1995.
Huisentruit, who was declared legally dead by authorities in 2001, told a colleague that morning that she had overslept and was running late for work.
“Through my digging, I learned that Jodi had a very secret ‘final fling’ with a man she met just 10 days before she went missing,” Ridge, who has been investigating the case for years, told the US Sun.
Ridge tracked down the unidentified lover, whom police had cleared years ago after first declaring him a person of interest.
He believes “jealously” was a factor in Huisentruit’s murder since she “had strong admirers” and that her newfound love interest might “infuriate other suitors.”
On the morning of her disappearance, police conducted a welfare check at her home, where they found her belongings, including a woman’s red shoe and a bent car key, scattered around her red Mazda Miata that was parked out front.
Police interviewed neighbors who heard screams, indicating a struggle had taken place, according to Ridge, who revealed information to the US Sun that was previously only known to law enforcement.
Among the fresh details was that Huisentruit’s love interest was a 27-year-old man who was from out of state.
According to Ridge, the two met at a bar and hit it off instantly. He said the couple spoke “just about every day and she initiated the calls.”
Ridge said he met the man, who gave him a tour of the Mason City home where he stayed during their relationship.
“That home is the last place Jodi went on a ‘date’ before she went missing,” Ridge told the US Sun.
Five days before her disappearance, Huisentruit and her beau “sat on the back deck having drinks overlooking the lake.”
The man told Ridge did that he and Huisentruit had “an immediate attraction and bond.”
The private investigator said “they both knew their blossoming relationship might infuriate other suitors.”
Ridge added that he “has no doubt that jealousy played a role in Jodi’s demise.”
“I am certain that his quickly blossoming relationship with Jodi played a central role in her abduction days later,” Ridge said.
“I believe without a doubt that this relationship was clearly a factor in what happened because this was not a random act of violence, it wasn’t anything like that, it wasn’t a stalker that came out of nowhere.”
The Post has sought comment from the Mason City Police Department.
Last month, Ridge doubled the reward to $50,000 for information that will help locate Huisentruit’s remains.
“Money can be a powerful incentive to motivate someone who is otherwise reluctant to come forward,” Ridge said, according to Des Moines, Iowa, outlet KCCI. “Time is not on our side, and we need to heat up this cold case.”