Jodi Huisentruit: 27 Years of Life and Loss
ABC 6 News) — It has been 27 years since the abduction of 27-year-old news anchor Jodi Huisentruit.
The numbers have lined up this year to mark the somber occasion. For the first time in decades, Amy Kuns, the last person to speak to Jodi before she disappeared, is speaking with ABC 6 News.
"This was the Star Trib [sic] from the Twin Cities, July 24th 1995, this was not even one month since Jodi disappeared," said Kuns as she carefully scanned the old newspaper.
Every June, there is a heaviness that weighs on Amy Kuns. Kuns was the last person to speak to Mason City news anchor Jodi Huisentruit. On the morning of June 27, 1995, just hours away from the start of newscast, Jodi was running late for work.
"When I called her, I obviously had waken her up, ‘ugh Amy what time is it?’ she asked, "I said Jodi it’s time for work, I’m waiting for you," recalled Kuns. "That had happened a few times before, when it did that, typically, she’d be at the station in 20 minutes."
Kuns added, "she’d come in her anchor clothes, but not all made up so I expected to see her in 20 minutes and still an hour later, no Jodi, my first reaction is anger, like Jody how could you do this to me?"
"Never in a million years, thought that something could have been this wrong," said Kuns.
Kuns went on to anchor the KIMT morning news that day in Jodi’s place. About a mile away, outside of Jodi’s apartment were signs of a struggle and investigators publicly declared the case was an abduction. Jodi was 27-years-old when she vanished 27 years ago.
"She’s been gone now how long she has been alive, it underscores how young she was to me and how much time has gone by," said Scott Fuller, with FindJodi.
Fuller and the FindJodi team works year round to keep Jodi’s name and her case alive. The group of volunteer journalists and former law enforcement have been investigating tips that have come in over the past two decades hoping to find answers.
"If we are in a position to try, then I have an obligation to try, someone has to," said Fuller. "As long as people in this area, specifically, don’t forget her and realize her case is still open because when cases are this old, people forget."
According to Fuller, their number one goal is to make sure that people remember Jodi’s case in not solved and that it still needs answers and they rely on tips for leads.
Lee asks Fuller, "Do the tips go anywhere? Every time this anniversary comes up, I would imagine new tips come up, but when we have no resolution to this case, people begin to wonder, what does the Mason City Police do with these tips?
"If you know something that you should have told police, or maybe you already have years ago and didn’t get a response, keep at it, keep bothering us and keep bothering the Mason City Police Department," said Fuller.
That is one reason why Kuns says her voice matters now more than ever, because for 27 years, her life has been tied to Jodi’s name.
"As a young reporter, a young producer reporting the news, to all of a sudden become the news, that was hard," said Kuns.
"It has impacted my life in ways that I feel like, people who have never been through trauma at all, will never understand," she said, "the trauma happened to Jodi, but it also happened to me."
"Now I have realized that I have a unique perspective on this story no body else knows that morning like I do, there is a story there and I need to tell it," she said.
Looking back Kuns says she did notice a change in Jodi’s behavior leading up to her abduction. "I will say also, the last couple of weeks of our time together, I did notice a difference and I haven’t talked about this a lot, she was always full of energy and so energetic, and the last couple of weeks got really quiet, and I would look for her and she’d be sound a sleep in an edit bay," recalled Kuns.
Kuns says even after 27 years, there are details about that morning that she will never forget.
"One thing that stands out from that morning, was it was my job to do the 7-25- morning cut in, so this stands out in my mind and I remember the phone ringing at this inopportune time, I thought who could be calling at 7-20 in the morning, so I picked up the phone and said is this Amy, may I speak to Jodi please, well Jodi is not here, where is she? Who is calling? This is John," said Kuns.
"I remember telling the police that and I don’t remember them even writing that down," she said.
FindJodi hopes voices like Amy’s continue to come forward, bringing possible missing pieces to this cold case.
"A former FBI profiler’s take is that he is probably still in the area most likely, when I asked her why, she said basically he has gotten away with this for this long, things like that are a stark realization, if you live in Mason City, do you know this person? Have you encountered him in the grocery store and if he was Jodi’s age, he would be mid 50s and he has been uncaught for 27 years," said Fuller.
Lee asked Fuller, "Do you fear that the answer is right in front of us, in plain sight and we can’t see it?
"That would be the hardest for me, it would be easier for me if it was someone, how could you have possibly suspected them, but it would be more haunting for me if it was a name we have looked at, but we just didn’t have enough to piece it all together," said Fuller.
"I’m always scared, I don’t trust anybody," said Kuns. "When I walk to my car, I have keys in between my fingers, that stuff doesn’t go away, I’m scared all of the time still."
For decades, this heavy burden has kept Amy quiet, but she says the significance of this anniversary feels right to speak up.
"Things come in three, this is a big deal," said Kuns of the 27-27-27. "Everyone deals with things differently and on their own time, in my case it took 27 years."
"I’m tackling it head on this year, I have run from it for decades I have run from it for 27 years."
As Kuns sifts through old photos of her and Jodi, she laughs at the memories. Pictures of two young women in their twenties, with aspirations beyond Mason City. Now, their lives changed forever.
"We both wanted to go to the Twin Cities, Jodi’s death will not be in vain, if I can help one person deal with their trauma that they have dealt with and help them realize they are not alone, then I feel like that is what I was put on this earth to do."
Kuns says she plans to share her story in a book she is writing. She also plans to speak at a Jodi Memorial Monday on the anniversary at 10:30 a.m. outside of the KIMT station.
ABC 6 News will be there and bring you coverage on air and online.