INWOOD, Iowa - A Inwood, Iowa, man accused of making false statements to law enforcement officers about the 30-year-old murder of a woman whose body was found in Northwest Iowa will appear in court next month, and authorities are saying little about his connection to the case. But it does appear there is a potentially significant connection.
John VanGammeren, 82, was arrested Friday by the Lyon County Sheriff's Office and charged with six counts of perjury, a class D felony. He is alleged to have lied to investigators when he was questioned on June 19 and Aug. 14 regarding the murder of Wilma June Nissen.
Nissen, 23, was found lying face down in the ditch near 190th and Cherry streets near Inwood on Oct. 4, 1978. The California native's badly decomposed body went unidentified until 2006, when her fingerprint was matched with records on file with the Los Angeles Police Department.
FBI agent Jon Moeller declined to comment Tuesday about whether VanGammeren is a murder suspect, the relevance of a woman named Annette Jacobsen mentioned in court documents or the status of forensic testing conducted on Nissen's remains and her clothing.
But Moeller did say investigators learned of VanGammeren while canvasing an area within a five-mile radius of where Nissen's body was found.
"It's a big negotiation game now with John," he said. "The more that is out there in the press the less he is going to cooperate."
Moeller said VanGammeren is still living at the same address as he did at the time of the murder. A Internet search lists VanGammeren as living at 1380 200th St., Inwood.
Moeller declined to comment about VanGammeren's background and referred questions to Lyon County Sheriff Blythe Bloemendaal, who did not return several phone calls from Journal reporters.
VanGammeren does not have a criminal record in the state, according to Iowa Courts Online.
As a young adult, Nissen, whose nickname was "Boots," hitchhiked from place to place. She was arrested for prostitution several times in California. She left California in Feb. 1978, and traveled to Atlanta, the last place where authorities have said Nissen was known to be alive.
Lyon County Attorney Carl Petersen said Monday that VanGammeren was brought in on a county attorney subpoena to answer questions regarding the homicide. He said VanGammeren is one of many people who have been questioned about the case.
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"It's obviously connected because of (Nissen's) history," he said. "There is a theory connection, but that's all I'm aware. This is merely a complaint."
Documents filed in Lyon County District Court allege that VanGammeren while under oath knowingly made a false statement or falsely denied knowledge of the following material facts:
- Knowing Annette (Nette) Jacobsen after being shown two photographs of her.
- Transporting a stripper or prostitute from Sioux Falls to his residence.
- Having dancers at his home on more than two occasions.
- Ever having prostitutes at his home.
- Having his wallet stolen while with a prostitute.
- Arranging strippers to come to his home for a bachelor party.
Petersen said investigators are trying to connect how Nissen's body was found in Lyon County when she was a resident of Los Angeles and other places nowhere near Iowa.
"It's an ongoing investigation," he said. "There's not going to be a conclusion next week."
Reporter Meagan Sexton contributed to this story.