‘48 Hours’ to feature 1995 disappearance of TV anchor, Minnesota native
The TV show “48 Hours” on Saturday, Dec. 15, will feature the 1995 disappearance of Mason City, Iowa, television news anchor Jodi Huisentruit.
Huisentruit — a Long Prairie, Minn., native who worked as a news anchor for KSAX-TV in Alexandria, Minn., in the early 1990s — was the morning anchor at KIMT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Mason City, when she disappeared on her way to work on June 27, 1995.
Authorities believe someone grabbed Huisentruit, 27, just after 4 a.m. as she went to her red Mazda Miata in the parking lot of her apartment complex. Neighbors said later that they heard a scream about that time.
Police found Huisentruit’s red high heels, blow dryer, hair spray and earrings strewn across the lot. Her bent car key lay on the ground near the Miata, and police believe she was unlocking her car door when she was taken.
An unidentified partial palm print was found on her car, but there were no other substantial clues.
She has not been seen since.
In a promotional video for the show, Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley tells CBS’ Jim Axelrod that the case remains an open investigation. “We have never closed the case,” Brinkley says. “It’s never been a cold case for us. It’s been an active investigation since it happened.”
The show features “new information about the case and explores multiple leads and theories about her abduction,” according to a news release from CBS. “Was it a crime of opportunity, was she targeted by an obsessed fan or was it someone she knew?”
Reporters from “48 Hours” worked on a story about Huisentruit’s disappearance in 1995, but the footage was shelved and never aired. The show includes “never-before-seen footage” of John Vansice, a friend of Huisentruit who volunteered to police that he was the last to see her alive, the news release states.
“Vansice denies any involvement with her disappearance,” the release states. “Police have never called him a suspect and confirmed he passed a polygraph. Still, in 2017, police obtained a search warrant for GPS information from two of his vehicles.”
The broadcast also includes interviews with former WCCO-TV reporter Caroline Lowe, who is now a freelance journalist and private investigator based in California, and retired Woodbury police Cmdr. Jay Alberio. The two are part of a team of journalists and retired police officers — called FindJodi.com — that was founded in 2003 by journalists Josh Benson and Gary Peterson. The team paid to put up several billboards in Mason City to mark Huisentruit’s 50th birthday on June 5; one remains up today, “thanks to the generosity of Fairway Outdoor Advertising,” Lowe said Wednesday.
It was the billboard campaign that caught CBS’ attention and led to the “48 Hours” episode, which airs at 9 p.m. Saturday, Lowe said.
Lowe said she plans to continue searching for Huisentruit until she is found.
“I may be walking around with my cane and may be in a wheelchair, but I am staying on this until we find Jodi,” Lowe says in the promotional video. “Somebody knows something. Is it you?”