The worst mass killings in Iowa history


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Posted Online: March 25, 2008, 4:44 pm
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Associated Press

Here is a list of some of the worst mass slayings in Iowa history.

1912--Mr. and Mrs. Joe B. Moore, their four children and two friends were killed with an ax at the Moore home in Villisca.

1933--Mrs. Joe Berven and her three children were beaten to death. Her husband later confessed to the killings.

1937--Elsie Nollen, 30, asphyxiated her six children and herself by running a hose from a car's exhaust into their home in Denison.

1937--Mrs. G.R. McAnich, 35, killed five of her seven children and then turned the gun on herself in Norwalk.

1939--Ray Platter, 33, and his wife Lena, 31, and their three children were shot to death in their home in Ogden. Police say Ray Platter killed his family then himself in a suicide pact with his wife.

1946--Edith Irwin, her two children and her mother-in-law were killed with an ax in Des Moines. Irwin's husband was implicated in the slayings but declared insane. He hanged himself in 1949 in a psychiatric ward in Anamosa.

1962--Andrew and Dora McBeth and their three children were shot to death in their Martinsburg home. Gayno Smith, 24, a relative, admitted to the slayings.

1973--Four teenagers from Sioux Falls, S.D., were shot to death at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Lyon County. Three brothers, David, Allen and James Fryer, were convicted.

1973--Estey Smith, 35, shot his wife, Kay and their three children at their home in Anita.

1975--Leslie and Jorjean Mark and their two children who shot to death on Halloween night as they slept in their rural Cedar Falls home. Leslie Mark's brother, Jerry Mark, 32, was convicted of the crime.

1978--Gerald Hoffman Jr., 15, his brother Geoffrey, 14, and Jeffrey Beavers, 14, all of West Des Moines, were shot in a downtown Des Moines bookstore. William Baldwin, 30, of Des Moines, was shot in a nearby bookstore. A prison escapee from Alabama was convicted in the youths' deaths, but charges for Baldwin's death were dropped.

1981--Bonnie Gilbert, 34, and her five children were shot to death at their home in Delmar. Her husband, Gene Gilbert, 28, was implicated in the slayings and committed suicide at his father's home in South Dakota.

1983--Ethel Mae Franken, 33, shot her husband, Darrell, 37, and their three children before killing herself in Aplington.

1985--Dale Burr shot his wife, Emily, at their home in Hills, bank president John Hughes at his office and a neighbor, Richard Goody, at Goody's farm. Burr then shot and killed himself.

1987--John and Agnes Dreesman, their two grown children and three grandchildren were found shot to death in the Dreesman home in Algona. Police believed one of the children, Robert Dreesman, killed the others and them himself.

1991--Five people were shot to death at the University of Iowa by Gang Lu, a disgruntled student who later killed himself.

1993--Three adults and two children were shot to death and buried in a field west of Mason City. Two people, Dustin Honken, 33, and Angela Johnson, were convicted on federal murder charges in the drug-related slayings and sentenced to death.

1993--Jolene Forsyth, 39, three of her children and two children she was baby-sitting were found shot to death in Forsyth's Norwalk home. Her estranged husband Rick Forsyth was found in the home critically wounded with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

2001--Leticia Aguilar, 31, her five children and businessman Ronald Fish, were found dead in their Sioux City homes. Aguilar's boyfriend and a former employee of Fish's, Adam Moss, was convicted of the slayings.

2006--Michael Bentler, 53; his wife Sandra, 47; and their three daughters, Sheena, 17, Shelby, 15, and Shayne, 14, were shot to death in the family's home near Bonaparte. The Bentlers' son, Shawn Bentler, was convicted of five counts of murder.

2008--The bodies of a mother and four children were found in a home on Iowa City's east side on March 24, 2008. Police were still trying to determine what happened to the father, who was recently indicted on federal embezzlement charges.

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