Guest Columnist

No answers in the 36-year-old murder of Ron Novak

It was the evening of Dec. 23, 1983, when Ron Novak was brutally attacked and died at his home in rural Center Point.

This tragedy has marred the holidays for the Novak family for 36 years. Waiting for justice and/or closure is , unfortunately, all that Ron’s family and friends can do at this time.

Sheriff Brian Gardner of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) has stated in an e-mail that since it is an active case, they can’t give any updates on the progress of the case. What we’ve asked the LCSO to do (Ron’s sisters and myself) is the newer genetic genealogy testing through Parabon Labs. This involves sending in a sample of the DNA found in Ron’s case to match it up to the closest relatives found in a public DNA database, like genesis.gedmatch.com, and build family trees to give law enforcement a person(s) name or family in which to focus their investigation.

Has the LCSO submitted the DNA from Ron’s case yet? We don’t know. And there’s no way for us to find out.

We were told that no info can be given out because the case isn’t closed and any information given could compromise the case. I don’t understand this reasoning. If the perpetrators are still alive, they know the LCSO will be coming for them. We (family and friends) just want to know that something is actually being done to get this solved. I think some tangible proof would go a long way in reassuring us that they really are working on his case.

Not being able to get information about Ron’s case is frustrating, to say the least. I seriously think there should be some type of law on the books that allows family members access to this info after a certain amount of time (maybe 10 years) so they can see what the problems are or pass the info on to a reputable organization that solves cold cases.

This lack of transparency from law enforcement agencies all over the U.S. in regard to the availability of information on cold cases is, as far as I can see, hindering resolution of many of them. Just looking online I’ve seen how many victims’ families and friends are angry and frustrated that their loved ones’ cases haven’t been solved.

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Almost two years ago I ran across a story about a woman who was in the process of suing the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD) to get access to the cold case file from her twin sister’s murder in Maryland. With still no resolution in sight, Jennifer (LeCornu) Carrieri has recently decided to take over and solve her twin, Jody LeCornu’s, murder by herself. She has numerous billboards up in high-traffic areas around Baltimore asking people to call her with information.

According to a post she made on Facebook, she says she feels the BCPD doesn’t want to solve Jody LeCornu’s case even though they have a description of the suspect and vehicle, fingerprints, four videos from the crime scene, six witnesses and a $100,000 reward.

She also mentions that she was told that DNA testing would be a last resort, even though it’s been almost 24 years since her sister’s death.

I wish her luck in her endeavor to solve her twin’s death. It’s a big task to take on with no cooperation from law enforcement.

And, no, I don’t see a billboard about Ron’s case in the future. We know we’ve done everything we can to get Ron’s case visible again and moving toward resolution.

So Ron’s family waits. And his friends wait. All we can do now is wait and pray the Linn County Sheriff’s Office does everything they can to get it solved.

And a little prayer for Ron’s family this holiday season couldn’t hurt.

Marlene (Florang) Chramosta is retired and lives in northwest Cedar Rapids. She grew up in the same southwest neighborhood as the Novak family, near Jones Park.

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