Bond set at $1 million for man charged in wife's 1997 death

Bloomfield makes initial appearance in Johnson County District Court

John Bloomfield makes his initial appearance before District Associate Court Judge Stephen Gerard via cctv at the Johnso
John Bloomfield makes his initial appearance before District Associate Court Judge Stephen Gerard via cctv at the Johnson County Courthouse on Friday, December, 13, 2013 in Iowa City, Iowa. Bloomfield is charged with 1st degree murder in the 1997 death of his wife. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

UPDATE: A bond of $1 million has been set for the former Iowa City man accused of killing his wife there 16 years ago.

John Bloomfield, 73, now of St. Paul, Minn., made an initial appearance at the Johnson County Courthouse via closed-circuit television Friday morning. Walking with a cane and wearing an orange, short-sleeved jail jumpsuit, Bloomfield sat alone in a room at the jail reserved for initial appearances. He spoke only a few times during the brief appearance, wishing Judge Stephen Gerard a good morning, confirming that local defense attorney Leon Spies would be representing him and indicating he had no questions about the court proceedings.

Spies was in Des Moines on Friday and not present for the initial appearance.

Bloomfield had been in St. Paul until yesterday. At a hearing last week in Ramsey County, Minn., Bloomfield waived extradition, paving the way for his return to Johnson County.

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Dec. 23, though Bloomfield is not expected to be in court for that hearing.

Bloomfield’s wife, Frances Bloomfield, 57, who lived at 38 Wakefield Court in Iowa City, was reported missing Sept. 22, 1997, by her husband John, then a researcher at the University of Iowa’s Center for Computer-Aided Design. Three days later, Winnebago County, Ill. authorities found a body bound with pantyhose and wrapped in plastic and duct tape in a ditch near Rockford.

Authorities believed Bloomfield had been strangled in her Iowa City home. Court documents released in 1997 revealed investigators who responded to the Bloomfield home found blood stains in two bedrooms on the second floor of the home, as well as a mark that indicated Bloomfield was dragged through the hallway. Her car was later discovered at Newark, N.J., International Airport.

John Bloomfield told authorities he was in the Chicago area returning from a business trip at the time of his wife’s death. However, police said Bloomfield was unable to sufficiently account for the time when he would have been driving. Authorities now say they have DNA and hair evidence connecting Bloomfield to the murder.

Bloomfield moved from Iowa City shortly after his wife’s death and had been living in St. Paul, Minn. before being arrested in November. Spies said his client did not remarry and has been battling yet-unspecified health problems.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Bloomfield would spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Spies has previously said Bloomfield will plead not guilty at his arraignment.

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