IOWA CITY—The death of a single mother two decades ago remains one of Iowa’s unsolved murder cases.
On Monday, Jan. 8, 1996, 37-year-old Donna Lee Marshall was found in her southeast side Iowa City mobile home with a gunshot wound to the head. She died the following day.
Marshall’s 7-year-old daughter Tiffany discovered her mother lying on the living room floor of their trailer around 3 p.m. She ran outside to tell her mother’s boyfriend, Donald Matthess, who had just picked up Tiffany from school.
A search of the mobile home — located at Lot 99 in the Bon-Aire Mobile Home Lodge — yielded mostly prescription drugs and paperwork pertaining to child custody.
Authorities searched both the mobile home and two cars that were parked there.
Investigators also took some child custody documents addressed to Marshall and letters from the state child support recovery unit addressed to Matthess.
When Marshall divorced Scott Sweeting in 1989, Marshall was awarded custody of Tiffany.
Sweeting was granted visitation rights, but divorce proceedings on file with the clerk of court showed Sweeting petitioned the court in 1992 to grant full custody to him.
No final ruling had been made at the time of Marshall’s murder.
Following her death, Tiffany went to stay with Sweeting.
Marshall’s parents would never see their daughter’s killer brought to justice. Bernard Marshall died in 2003, and Lottie died in 2010.
COLD CASE BREAKDOWN:
Who: Donna Lee Marshall
What happened: The 37-year-old was shot in her Iowa City mobile home on Jan. 8, 1996. She died the next day.
How you can help: Contact the Iowa City Police Department at 319-356-5275 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at 515-725-6010 or e-mail email@example.com.
ABOUT THIS SERIES:
“Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders” is an ongoing collaborative effort by Iowa news organizations to revisit some of the most brutal and mystifying homicides in the state’s history. The N’West Iowa REVIEW is presenting some of the unsolved homicides in the hope that they will lead to new tips and potentially help solve cases.