Editor's note: "Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa's unsolved murders" is a weekly feature highlighting some of Iowa’s unsolved homicides in the hope that it will lead to new tips and potentially help solve cases. The project is a partnership between The Journal and other members of the Iowa Newspaper Association.
PHILIP G. TERRELL | AGE: 42 | DIED: DEC. 24, 1993
Hometown: Des Moines
Body Found: Warren County, Iowa
On Christmas Eve, 1993, Phil Terrell went for a walk near his home on Des Moines’ south side. The 42-year-old father of three never returned, and his family reported him as missing. On Wednesday, March 2, 1994, a horseback rider found Terrell’s snow-covered, decomposed body in a creek bed just inside Warren County. Autopsy results showed Terrell died from blunt force trauma to the head.
His body had been dragged to the location where it eventually was found. Some of his clothing had been neatly folded and placed beneath his head. Investigators believed his body had been in that same location since the day he disappeared but, due to having been exposed to the elements, said they had no physical evidence.
Terrell, who had always been a hardworking family man, had begun associating with a rough crowd in 1993. He started insisting someone wanted to harm him, and his family began to fear for his mental health.
Terrell’s girlfriend, Julie, had told varying stories to the family and to investigators. FBI agents sorted through Julie’s contradictory statements and explanations and asked her to submit to a lie detector test. She failed. Still, they had no hard evidence to tie her to the crime.
Anyone with information about Phil Terrell’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at 515-725-6010 or email@example.com.