Killing may have occurred in home, sheriff says

Note: This story was originally published Sept. 26, 1997.

The person who dumped Frances Bloomfield's body on a lonely highway near Rockford probably was passing through and was not associated with this city of 139,000 people.

Winnebago County (Ill.) Sheriff Richard Meyers said he came to that conclusion because of the proximity of Highway 20 and the shallow ditch where Bloomfield's body was found.

The Iowa City woman's clothed body was found, wrapped in dark-colored plastic garbage bags, around 5 p.m. Monday.

Meyers said there is "a real potential" that Bloomfield,

57, was killed in her Iowa City home before being transported to the Rockford area.

Bloomfield, whose feet and hands were bound, was dressed in faded blue jeans and a sweater over a shirt. She was wearing two rings on her left ring finger, two necklaces and hoop earrings, Meyers said.

Authorities believe that Bloomfield, who was strangled, died at least two days before her body was found in a ditch about one mile south of Rockford.

Authorities are still looking for Bloomfield's red 1994 Honda Accord, with sesquicentennial license plate SO51154.

In Iowa City, police on Thursday were saying only that their investigation into the homicide is continuing. The Division of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are assisting.

Bloomfield was reported missing at 7 a.m. Monday by her husband, John, when he returned from a business trip to France. He is a researcher with the Center for Computer-Aided Design at the University of Iowa.

The condition of the couple's home at 38 Wakefield Ct. led

police to suspect foul play. The home remains cordoned off with crime-scene tape.

Meyers, the Winnebago County sheriff, said it's odd that someone would kill Bloomfield and then transport her body all the way from Iowa City to Rockford - a drive of about four hours.

The person transporting the body, he said, was at risk of being caught during that time.

He said authorities don't know how long Bloomfield's body had been in the ditch, but he didn't think it had been very long. It rained on Sunday, he said, and there was no evidence of rain on the garbage bags containing the body.

Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fidducia said she found no signs Bloomfield had been sexually assaulted. She said tests are being performed to confirm no sexual abuse occurred.

Fidducia also said signs of other trauma to Bloomfield's body were found, but she declined to discuss specifics. Bloomfield was identified through dental records.

Fidducia said arrangements were being made Thursday afternoon to transfer Bloomfield's body to a funeral home.

Bloomfield's body was found alongside Simpson Road near Rockford's southern city limits. The road is bordered by a cornfield and a soybean field.

Tom Reichert, who lives a quarter mile away from where the body was found, drove by the site around 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Reichert said he didn't see anything in the ditch at that time. He believes he would have noticed something that unusual and believes the body was placed there between 3:30 and 5 p.m. Monday.

An unidentified motorist, who stopped to check his engine, found the body. Sheriff Meyers said the man asked not to be identified.

Reichert, 32, said Simpson Road is very close to Highway 20, which is a major thoroughfare between Dubuque and Rockford. The highway then turns into Interstate 90 and leads into Chicago. The body was found about halfway along an eight-tenths-of-a-mile stretch where there are no houses. Reichert said it would be possible to get rid of a body without anyone seeing.Sheriff Meyers said the case is now in the hands of Iowa authorities. He said his officers will continue to track the case and will be available for testimony should an arrest be made.

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