Tommy McConkey

DES MOINES—The death of a successful construction contractor from Altoona remains among Iowa’s unsolved murder cases more than four decades later.

Tommy Lee McConkey was shot in the head in a Des Moines parking lot at 2929 E. University Ave. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 1975.

Authorities said an unidentified person drove up in a car and shot McConkey in the face. McConkey died the next night. The 38-year-old was working at a lounge the time.

It was a tragic end for a man who, less than two years earlier, had participated in a candidate forum in Altoona with other city council hopefuls and expressed his desire to make his community a safer place to live and raise a family.

George Douglas Frank, 25, a former Des Moines resident living in St. Louis, was arrested in November 1975 and charged with McConkey’s murder but later was released.

An Associated Press story quoted police Lt. Edgar Harlan as saying Frank was released after a witness to the slaying could not identify him in a lineup.


Who: Tommy Lee McConkey

What happened: The 38-year-old was shot in the head in a Des Moines parking lot on Aug. 27, 1975, and died the next day.

How you can help: Contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864.


“Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders” is a yearlong 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.