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$5,000 reward offered in 1981 murder

Crime Stoppers: Anonymous organization wants to help nail Altman killer

August 30, 2012
By BARBARA WALLACE HUGHES, bwh@messengernews.net , Messenger News

Webster County Crime Stoppers didn't exist when Angela Altman was murdered in 1981.

But the group is offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Altman's killer.

Altman, 22, was murdered on Jan. 24, 1981, in the Fort Dodge apartment she shared with her daughter at 215 S. Seventh St. Her body - stabbed, strangled and partially nude - was discovered by then-4-year-old Jessica.

A juvenile suspect was arrested, briefly charged and released. No other arrests have ever been made.

The reward, said John Bruner, director of marketing and public relations for Crime Stoppers, is "solely and completely" because of a series of front-page articles that ran in The Messenger this summer, detailing the crime and Jessica Altman's efforts to find justice for her mother.

The articles, he said, "got conversation started in the coffee shops and on the golf course. It's the reason why this organization stepped up."

Fact Box

To report tips

Anyone with information on Angela Altman's murder is asked to call the Fort Dodge Police Department at 573-1426 or Crime Stoppers at 573-1444. Tips can also be sent by texting LEC and the tip to 274637, and tipsters can remain anonymous.

The $5,000 is from an anonymous donor, representing a local organization, Bruner said.

"I think it's wonderful that Crime Stoppers can get involved with this case," said Dan Streit, president of Webster County Crime Stoppers. "Hopefully, we can get this case resolved and get it behind us. We want to get the bad guys, and this is one way we can get the ball rolling."

Crime Stoppers visited with local and state law enforcement officials on Aug. 24 to make them aware of the reward, Bruner said.

However, everyone involved knows there are challenges in dealing with a cold case, he said.

"The further away you get from an incident, the harder it is to solve it," said Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody, who is also a member of the Crime Stoppers board of directors.

In part, Carmody said, that's because people can forget details that seem minor to them but could be critical to solving the crime.

Still, the reward helps provide "an opportunity to revive" the case.

"This is still important to us," Carmody said. "We want justice for the victim, we want justice for her family and we want justice for the community."

Webster County Sheriff Brian Mickelson, also a member of the board, echoed Carmody's remarks.

"On behalf of Crime Stoppers," Mickelson said, "it's a good thing that we can do this, that we can offer this reward."

Jessica Altman has spent her adult life trying to find out who killed her mother, contacting over the years the Fort Dodge Police Department, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa attorney general, the state ombudsman and the commissioner of public safety.

Altman, who lives in Tennessee, said she often felt she wasn't being taken seriously.

However, she said she believes Crime Stoppers' issuance of a $5,000 reward may help officials finally solve the crime.

"I just want to say that I am extremely thankful and excited that Crime Stoppers is willing to offer a reward in my mother's case," Jessica Altman said.

"The response that I have received from the Fort Dodge community has been very positive and encouraging. Individuals have messaged me on Facebook to not only give me words of encouragement but also to let me know that they are keeping their eyes and ears open in hopes of learning any new information that may help. I think a reward may be just the incentive for someone to finally come forward and give the FDPD and DCI information that could lead to the conviction of a murderer who has been allowed to walk the streets freely for more than 30 years," she said.

"We're here. This is what we are about," Bruner said. "It's important that we get involved in every case we can afford to be involved in."

"We've probably got one of the best Crime Stoppers boards in the state," Mickelson said.

Webster County Crime Stoppers was organized in 1982. Since the organization began tracking its record of success in 2001, it has given out more than $110,000 in rewards and approximately 81 percent of the suspects pictured on its most wanted lists have been arrested.

"That's almost 1,300 people," Bruner said.

The local organization has more than 200 members and works monthly with local law enforcement agencies - all of which work cooperatively with Crime Stoppers and each other, Streit said.

"We are pleased with all the citizens' input that we have. It's our goal to create a very large army of good citizens who have their eyes and ears open at all times to help us find, arrest and put the bad guys off the street," Bruner said. "That's our job - get the message out and keep getting the message out."

 
 

 

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