IOWA CITY — As the Iowa City Police Department investigated the homicide of Jonathan Wieseler, Det. Mike Smithey made a pact with the slain bail bondsman’s family.
“I made them a promise that we would not stop investigating this until we made an arrest and we were able to hold someone accountable for what happened,” Smithey said.
On Monday, Smithey made good on that promise.
Authorities announced that Curtis Jones, 41 — already facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of cabdriver Ricky Lillie — would be charged in Wieseler’s death. Jones will be charged with first-degree murder, a felony punishable by life in prison.
A criminal complaint made available Monday states that between 10:20 and 10:32 p.m. April 22, Jones shot Wieseler in the head with a small caliber firearm while committing a robbery at Lederman Bail Bonds, 518 S. Capitol St., where Wieseler was employed. Police said Jones was captured on surveillance video driving a vehicle “within blocks” of the crime scene. When police obtained a search warrant for that vehicle, the DNA of both Wieseler and Jones were found inside.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said during a news conference Monday that the first-degree murder charge is appropriate because Jones killed Wieseler while committing a forcible felony, first-degree robbery.
In an interview with The Gazette, Wieseler’s fiancée, Harmony Hauser, said she is still in shock over Wieseler’s death and Monday’s announcement rekindled painful emotions.
“I’ve already experienced a tidal wave of the grief and mourning hitting me again,” she said.
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She added, “The fact that he’s in jail now brings a small comfort. I’m hoping that will mean there’s no chance he could get away and avoid prosecution.”
Jones was arrested for the Lillie homicide on July 20. Police said Jones entered Lillie’s cab around 11 p.m. June 27 and the two men drove uninterrupted to the 500 block of Ernest Street on the south side of Iowa City. Authorities said Jones then shot Lillie in the head. He faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery for that crime. His trial is scheduled to take place in Scott County beginning April 9.
Wieseler, a Sioux City native, attended the University of Iowa and graduated from the UI College of Law. Friends and family said Wieseler had little interest in practicing law and took a job as a bail bondsman instead.
Wieseler was engaged to be married last June. He was killed the weekend before his bachelor party.
“He was loved by so many,” Hauser said through tears. “We had a love that I dreamed of finding. We were committed to each other in every way. He was my person.”
Smithey said he could not say when Jones became a suspect in the Wieseler investigation, but according to a footnote in court documents filed in September by Jones’ attorney in the Lillie case, investigators questioned Jones about Wieseler at the time of his arrest in July.
“It just made sense, at that point, to inquire from him personally about the Wieseler homicide,” Smithey said.
Asked about Jones’ whereabouts between the two homicides, Lyness said she was unsure at the time of the news conference. She praised Iowa City police for their efforts to bring Jones to justice.
“I want to commend the ICPD for doing an excellent job and never, ever giving up on this case,” she said. “I hope this brings some solace to the family.”
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Although Jones has been in custody since July, that did not change the way police approached the case, Smithey said.
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