Huisentruit investigators interested in questioning rape suspect

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities said Monday they want to know more about a former Iowa man being held in Minnesota on rape charges to determine if he was involved in the disappearance of a television reporter.
Jodi Huisentruit, the morning and noon anchor-producer at KIMT-TV in Mason City, vanished on June 27, 1995. Police have classified the case as an abduction but have had few clues to help their investigation.
WCCO-TV in Minneapolis reported Sunday that Tony Dejuan Jackson, 24, lived two blocks from KIMT-TV in Mason City at the time of Huisentruit’s disappearance.
Jackson, who has jailed in Minnesota since May 1997 on $500,000 bond, faces multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in four Minnesota cities.
Police in St. Paul and Woodbury, Minn., sent profiles of Jackson to Mason City and Kansas City, Mo., where he previously lived.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said the characteristics of the victims and Huisentruit are similar, including strawberry blond hair, height and weight.
“My understanding is authorities in (Iowa) have been provided with his background,” Backstrom said.
FBI and state investigators may compare the palm print of Jackson with an unidentified print found on Jodi Huisentruit’s car, WCCO-TV reported Sunday.
Mason City Police Chief David Ellingson refused to discuss the evidence and what authorities may be looking at.
“That’s what the leg work is going to be all about. We’re continuing to work with the DCI and the FBI,” he said. “There was a meeting recently to review many of the leads in the Huisentruit case, this being one of them.
“Right now we have a person accused of a certain crime being in Mason City around the time of our incident,” he said. “We have to take it and see where we go with that. We’d like to locate people who may be able to help us with what this individual might have been doing.”
Jackson repeatedly denied involvement in the case to WCCO reporters, the station reported. His attorney, public defender Louie Torinus, did not immediately return a telephone message Monday.
Huisentruit was last heard from about 4:15 a.m. June 27, 1995, when a co-worker called her at home to see why she wasn’t at work to get ready for the morning news. She said she would be at the station in a few minutes but never showed up.
In Minnesota, Jackson is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual contact and one count of first degree burglary in Dakota County, a May 17, 1997, attack.
He also is charged in Washington County with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual contact and multiple other charges, including first-degree burglary, for incidents involving two women in Cottage Grove and Woodbury in May 1997, said Rick Hodson, acting county attorney.
He also is charged in Ramsey County with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the assault of a St. Paul woman in May 8, 1997, said Jack Rhodes, chief of staff in the Ramsey County attorney’s office.