CEDAR FALLS - Dennis Michael Clougherty would have been 58 this year.
But Clougherty's life ended in 1974 when he was passing through Cedar Falls. A 23-year-old Vietnam veteran soon to start a year of graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Clougherty was hitchhiking his way to Wyoming.
Clougherty was killed the night of Aug. 12, 1974. His body was found along Union Road, south of First Street, by a passing motorist. The young student had been shot several times in the chest and left alongside the road. Some of his personal belongings - a backpack, motorcycle helmet and clothes bag - were found four miles to the south at Viking Road.
Clougherty was the first recorded homicide in Cedar Falls, although a turn-of-the-century shooting may have qualified if better records existed. His case remains the only unsolved murder case in the city.
On the 35th anniversary of the Clougherty murder, Cedar Falls Police wanted to get the case back in front of the public eye in hopes that someone may still know something about the case that could prove helpful.
"It's a long, long shot, but we wanted to throw it out there and see if we can get anything on it," said Cedar Falls police officer Mike Briggs, who recently has been working at reassembling the case.
The case had been tucked away in storage until Briggs and Lt. Mike McCallum decided to give it another shot. A thick black binder shows the fruits of years of investigation, including interviews with those who saw Clougherty in his last days.
The original investigators in the Clougherty case are no longer with the department. They had cited how frustrating the case was, particularly since they had received a great deal of help from the public in reporting anything connected with the case.
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"He had a backpack and a white motorcycle helmet. Out hitchhiking he was very noticeable," McCallum said.
Cedar Falls and Iowa law enforcement officials traveled to several Midwest states in the years following the murder to follow up on leads. Despite the work, they never solidified a motive or suspect.
Clougherty had been hitchhiking from Madison to Torrington, Wyo. He had left his motorcycle in Wyoming earlier in the year to be repaired and planned to ride it back to a family wedding in Michigan.
He had set out from Madison, first catching a ride to Dubuque. He later got a ride to Indpendence, and after eating at a diner there, hitched a ride to the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 63, then near downtown. He was last seen near Broadway Street and Park Avenue at about 9:30 p.m.
A medical examiner who conducted the autopsy believed Clougherty was killed between 10:30 p.m. and midnight.
Robbery was not considered a motive, as Clougherty's billfold was found containing $80 and the contents of his backpack were undisturbed.
The Cedar Falls Police Department considers the case still open, even though no new leads have come in years. Anyone who believes they may have information is encouraged to call the police at (319) 273-8612.