Law enforcement officials scour a rural swath of land in southwestern Iowa with cadaver dogs, investigating a woman’s claim that her father murdered dozens of women and took them away. buried on his property decades before his death.
“I know where the bodies are buried,” Lucy Studey told Newsweek of her efforts to help law enforcement locate what she says may be 50 to 70 victims of her father, Donald Dean Studey. , who died in 2013 at the age of 75.
Studey, speaking to Newsweek, said as a child she and her siblings were forced to help dispose of her father’s victims at his Thurman estate, with many women abandoning a wells from 90 to 100 feet. She said most of his victims were sex workers or transients he picked up in Omaha, Nebraska, over three decades.
“He was just telling us we had to go to the well, and I knew what that meant,” she said. “All I want is for these sites to be dug up, for people to close their doors and for these women to be buried properly.”
Studey said that for years she spoke about the horrors she witnessed, but no one took her seriously. Things changed when a local Fremont County deputy said he heard rumors that her father had grown up and agreed to go with her to the five-acre property.
“She said, ‘It should be here somewhere,’ and I went out and found it,” Fremont deputy Mike Wake told Newsweek as they found the well, which had been filled. .
Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope, who did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Wednesday, confirmed to the Des Moines Register that they are investigating the property after spending much of the past year to obtain permission from the current owners and neighbors to search the area. .
“She’s got a hell of a story, but we don’t have any evidence of anything other than we had a dog kick on a corpse,” Aisotrope told the Register. “We need to have more evidence than that.”
Jim Peters, owner and operator of Samaritan Detection Dogs, whose dogs alerted deputies to the scent of potential human remains on the property, agreed it was too early to say anything nefarious had happened.
“If she’s making all this up and wants people to believe her, she’s doing a really good job.”
“In this case, it could be a smell related to this woman’s claims or some kind of up hill, so it could be related to a pioneer burial site, or it could be related at a Native American site,” Peters told HuffPost. “I can’t say because I don’t know.”
But based on his assessment so far and his nearly 10 years of working with law enforcement, he said Studey appeared to be a credible witness.
“What I’ve learned is to keep an open mind, especially when it comes to crime work, and if she’s making it all up and wants people to believe her, she’s doing very good work. At this point, I don’t have anything that raises a red flag with me,” he said.
According to Newsweek, which had a reporter on the scene, Studey pointed to various locations on the property where she believed people had been buried. The dogs drove to the exact locations on their own, reporting their detection of human remains.
Peters said he was told the FBI would get more involved in the coming weeks and might bring in their dogs to help with the search. An FBI representative told HuffPost that they could neither confirm nor deny the investigation and their involvement.
Studey’s older sister, Susan Studey, denied their father was a murderer, telling Newsweek she believed any remains detected by the dogs belonged to animals or to her father’s stillborn sister, who was buried on the property.
Attempts to reach Susan and Lucy Studey for comment on Wednesday were not immediately successful.
The Iowa Criminal Investigation Division confirmed to HuffPost that it is assisting the sheriff’s office with the investigation. Assistant manager Mitch Mortvedt described it as “in the early stages with a lot of work to do” and said there was no further information available at this time.