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A licensed private investigator looking into the disappearance of Mason City television anchor Jodi Huisentruit has doubled a reward for information to $50,000.
Steve Ridge put up the $25,000 reward earlier this year for anyone who can lead police to Huisentruit's remains. The increase went into effect Sept. 1.
Ridge has been actively investigating the case since 2019, though he has followed it since she disappeared early on the morning of June 27, 1995, on her way to work at KIMT-TV in Mason City. Though the case has remained in the public eye for 28 years, no arrests or charges have been made.
He believes someone knows what happened to Huisentruit. It could be someone who had no involvement but has information they've been reluctant to share, Ridge said.
He hopes the higher reward will encourage someone to come forward.
“I am now extremely confident that multiple people know what happened to Jodi. Eventually, someone may decide to talk,” Ridge said in a news release. “We hope to encourage that possibility."
On the 28th anniversary of her disappearance, Huisentruit's family posted a statement on the website findjodi.com thanking people for their support and encouraging anyone with information to come forward.
"We never thought a tragedy like this would happen to our family. Please do not make us wait another year for answers. We implore you – if you know something, SAY something," the statement said. "The pain of not knowing where Jodi is or what happened to her is a pain we would never wish on anyone. Please – help us bring Jodi home."
Anyone with information should call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.
What happened to Jodi Huisentruit?
Huisentruit, 27, who grew up in Long Prairie, Minnesota, didn't show up at work for her 6 a.m. broadcast.
On the morning of her disappearance, Huisentruit answered a call from a KIMT-TV producer. She said she had overslept and was heading into the office. The producer called again at 5 a.m. with no response before co-workers asked police to perform a welfare check at her apartment.
Police believed she was grabbed as she tried to unlock her red Mazda Miata shortly after 4 a.m. A hair dryer, a red pair of shoes and a bottle of hairspray were found next to her car at her apartment complex. Police found a palm print on the car along with signs of a struggle.
Huisentruit was declared legally dead in 2001. Her mother, Jane Huisentruit, said in a 2005 article that she believed her daughter is at the bottom of a lake near her home. Her cousin, Mary Lee Moberg, believes a man stalked her.
Could a newly discovered relationship be motive?
Ridge has been actively investigating the case after leaving Magid, a media consulting firm that provided on-air coaching for Huisentruit early in her career, and becoming a private investigator.
He said he recently discovered Huisentruit had been seeing a man in the last 10 days of her life. Ridge interviewed the man several times and found out their relationship was not known to her friends or family.
Ridge said he does not believe the man was involved in her death, but their relationship may reveal a potential motive.
"I do believe that there were admirers who became aware of the relationship and the fact that she was unavailable or, you know, on dates or whatever," Ridge said. "I think the only way this person really, ultimately would've been involved would've been having created perhaps some jealousy around Jodi and her time."
Ridge said police questioned the man at the time Huisentruit went missing. Mason City police did not return requests for comment to verify the existence of the man or the nature of his relationship with the victim.
"She had a very bubbly personality," Ridge said. "People were just sort of naturally attracted to her, so she did have some pretty strong admirers."
Noelle Alviz-Gransee is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Follow her on Twitter@NoelleHannika or email her at NAlvizGransee@registermedia.com.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Reward for information on Jodi Huisentruit's disappearance doubled