If there were an answer as to who killed Ronnie Novak, his family and friends could get some closure. So far, the answer to that question has eluded authorities for almost 34 years.
But we, family and friends, have not given up. We, in fact, are more determined than ever to get this case solved and closed so Ron and his family get justice and some closure.
The murderer(s) needs to be held accountable. And we want Ronnie to finally be able to rest in peace.
So what led to his tragic death? How could this happen to a nice, fun guy who grew up in my neighborhood? How and why did he get involved with drugs and bad guys?
I think he just took a few wrong turns in life, as many have. But Ron’s killer(s) robbed him of the chance to learn from his mistakes and to have a full, happy life. He was barely 24 years old when he was killed. And that makes me so very sad for him. And sad for all of his family and friends.
You see, at the time of his death, Ron was a drug dealer. And he made a lot of money, enough to buy a farm house in rural Center Point, where he lived and sold his product.
On the night he was murdered (Dec. 24, 1983), Ron was home alone. The wind chill factor put temperatures near 30-below to 40-below.
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His hands were tied behind his back, he was shot once, viciously beaten with hammers and a golf club, and left to die in an unheated storeroom.
No witnesses to the crime came forward and the tips didn’t lead to any solid evidence or proof against any of the suspects.
The case went cold.
In 2013, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office announced that they had sent the evidence from Ron’s case for testing and there was a DNA profile from an unknown person found on his clothing. The sample was run through CODIS (the Combined DNA Index System). No match was found. Ron’s case again is at a standstill.
We recently started a support group on Facebook: Ron Novak Unsolved Homicide 1983.
We’re using social media to urge people to call in tips. We also have fliers around Cedar Rapids asking for information.
I know there have been a few tips submitted recently. I have no idea whether they were good leads or not, or whether anybody in law enforcement has had time to follow through on them.
What I do know is that somebody out there knows something.
Maybe they were afraid they’d face drug-related charges if they spoke up at the time of Ron’s death. The statute of limitations on any drug charges has run out, so no worries there. Or maybe they were afraid of retaliation from the murderer(s). Tips/information can be given anonymously to Linn County Crime Stoppers, so no worries there either. Contact linncountycrimestoppers.com or 1-800-272-7463.
If you know something, now is the time to step up and say something. Help us get this case off the back burner, active and solved.
Nobody deserves to die the way Ronnie did.
• Marlene Florang Chramosta is retired and lives in Cedar Rapids