Police: Cedar Rapids homicide suspect told dispatcher he used crowbar to kill mother

Victim's oldest son said mother had sought rehabilitation help for Cusic

Edward Cusic
Edward Cusic

In a conversation with a police dispatcher, a Cedar Rapids man said he killed his mother with a crowbar and claimed she had threatened him with a knife inside the house they shared, according to court documents.

Cusic, 44, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Anita J. Cusic-Labkon, 68, at 624 Old Marion Rd. NE. He called police around 11 p.m. Friday to report an incident that was labeled a “disturbance with a weapon,” and during the call said his mother was bipolar and suicidal, police said.

Officers arrested Cusic at the scene, and he was being held in the Linn County Jail on $1 million bond.

According to a criminal complaint, Cusic told police his mother had threatened him with a dagger, so he went to the garage where he got a crowbar and used it to kill her. Investigators found and recovered a crowbar that was near Cusic-Labkon’s feet, but did not find any other weapons at the crime scene, the complaint said.

It appeared to police that Cusic-Labkon had been bludgeoned to death, with signs of blunt force trauma to her face and arm, according to court documents. An autopsy was conducted Monday at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny.

Authorities on Monday declined a request made by The Gazette for an audio recording of the 911 call Cusic placed, saying it is part of an ongoing investigation.

Cusic-Labkon grew up in southeastern Illinois and had spent time in Florida and Fairfield, Iowa, before moving to Cedar Rapids a couple years ago. She had divorced her husband, Hal, but continued to live with him until his death in August, according to her family. At some point after that, Edward Cusic, who is originally from Harrisburg, Ill., moved in with her.

According to her oldest son, Jesse Oldham, Jr. of Great Falls, Mont., Cusic-Labkon had made attempts to get Edward into a rehabilitation center for drug use.

“There were some problems, family was aware of them and we were trying to deal with them,” said Oldham, who declined to offer specifics.

Oldham, 53, said he disagrees with the explanation his half-brother gave to police about what happened inside the house on Old Marion Road NE. He said he talked to his mother regularly on the phone or over e-mail.

“She was not that way,” Oldham said. “Anita loved life in her own way.”

Edward Cusic was convicted of felony forgery in Illinois in 2007, but does not have any criminal history in Iowa, according to online court records. Oldham said he does not know Cusic well, but after years without any communication with him, they had been “rekindling” their relationship in recent years. Cusic has five children who are being cared for in Illinois, Oldham said.

Oldham said his extended family is “in disbelief” over the loss of his mother, who is survived by 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

“She loved her kids, she did,” Oldham said. “She was trying to do what was right for Ed. She was always there to talk to if you needed someone to talk to.”

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