Waverly is a small, upper-middle class town in northeast Iowa. On June 13th, 1971, the first murder of what is now referred to as the Waverly Three is committed. Valerie Klossowsky, age 14, goes to the pool with a friend and never comes home. Her body was found nude from the waist down, shirt pulled up over her head, raped and strangled.
November 28th, 1975, eighteen year old Julie Benning goes missing. Some people in town claim to have seen her briefly working at the strip club, taking money at the door. There are rumors of a little scuffle at the front door and then, no more Julie. Fast forward to March of ’76. It rains a ton and Julie’s body is found. She had been stuffed in a culvert in a ditch. She was naked, mutilated, strangled and presumably raped though she was in a bad, bad state of decomposition by that time.
On September 4th, 1976, Marie “Lisa” Peak is found naked, mutilated, strangled, and raped by a tree on a gravel road north of town. Lisa Peak had been abducted and held captive and raped about a year earlier and helped put that guy in prison.
My father was actually a person of interest in Julie Benning’s death, though I don’t know why or what led to him not being of interest any longer. My mother grew up here and remembers that people didn’t really think Valerie was killed by the same person as Julie and Lisa, and she says no one really talked about the murders. Which isn’t surprising, because Waverly is like a real life Pleasantville. We’re REALLY good at sweeping things under the rug in order to maintain that reputation. AND, if you find Julie’s sisters’ blog, she talks about a guy finding her a couple years ago and telling her he witnessed drama at the strip club that Julie allegedly worked at the night she disappeared and knows who killed Julie. The guy with the details opted not to meet with Julie’s sister though, so what he saw is still a mystery.
Much speculation has been made over the years and many persons of interest. In 2010, law enforcement exhumed Lisa Peak’s body to look for missed DNA evidence. There was a man in Minnesota that they thought could have fit the crime, but nothing panned out. There’s still plenty of people living in Waverly that were living here when the murders took place. A detective from the initial investigation made a public plea for anyone with info to please come forward because it has been so long and the families deserve closure.
Please turn tips into Special Agent Jon Moeller at the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (712)-258-1920 or Waverly Police at (319)-352-5400.
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