Hazel Reimann

DES MOINES—Hazel Marie Reimann may have been 87 years old, but she did not die without putting up a fight, according to authorities.

The octogenarian’s body was found Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008, in her Des Moines home by her sister, Helen Burklund.

Burklund had gone to Reimann’s southeast Watrous Avenue house to check on her sister.

In the home’s kitchen, she found a bloody, horrific crime scene leading to the basement, where she discovered her sister’s lifeless body in a pool of blood. Police said Reimann had been beaten and stabbed.

There were no signs of forced entry.

Although a suspect and motive were unknown, detectives said that Reimann had put up an extraordinary fight; in addition to the blood in the kitchen and on the walls, she had broken six fingers trying to fend off her attacker.

Reimann was known to be fiercely independent. She was an active senior who still mowed her own lawn and drove her own car. A former riveter who worked on airplanes during World War II, Reimann loved gardening, yard work and running around with her sister.

Authorities think Reimann’s murder occurred the night before her sister found her body, and although they questioned many neighbors, they could not come up with any solid leads.

Four days later, with no suspects in the case, Polk County Crime Stoppers offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

“Even the smallest details — any observations neighbors may have had on that day, if they saw people sneaking around the house or anything like that — is going to be really important for us,” said Des Moines police Sgt. Vince Valdez.

Police remain hopeful that eventually, someone will come forward with new information and give them a fresh lead.

Reimann had few relatives other than her sister.


Who: Hazel Marie Reimann

What happened: The 87-year-old was found dead in the basement of her Des Moines home on Sept. 2, 2008. She had been beaten and stabbed.

How you can help: Contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864 or Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400.


“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.