Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  DCI Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

Arrest Made in 1974 Southeast Iowa Homicide Investigation

Ottumwa, IOWA --- Today, law enforcement arrested 66 year old ROBERT EUGENE PILCHER of Des Moines, Iowa in connection with the 1974 homicide of 17 year old MARY JAYNE JONES of Ottumwa.  PILCHER was arrested by Wapello County Sheriff's deputies and agents of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) today at the A-1 Motel, 5500 SE 14th Street in Des Moines, Iowa. Robert Pilcher

On April 9, 1974 the body of Mary Jane Jones was discovered in a farmhouse in rural Wapello County, Iowa.   Jones had been shot to death and was sexually assaulted.  A thorough crime scene investigation was conducted by the DCI Crime Laboratory and law enforcement immediately after the victim was discovered.   As a result of this investigation several items of evidentiary value were collected and stored at the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office.  A full investigative report was compiled and a record of that investigative file was kept in the records division of DCI.

The residence in which the victim was located was owned by Pilcher’s cousin who was out of town at the time of the victim’s death.  Pilcher had access to his cousin’s vehicle and access to the farmhouse during the time period in which the death occurred.  Pilcher was interviewed during the 1974 investigation.

Mary Jayne Jones

Under a federally funded grant, DCI operated a Cold Case Unit from 2009-2011. This unit was designed specifically to re-examine unsolved crimes and determine if further investigation and scientific analysis could lead to an arrest. Members of the Cold Case Unit resubmitted items collected from the crime scene and from Jones' body to the DCI Crime Laboratory for additional DNA testing using analysis technology not available at the time ot the homicide. A DNA profile was developed from the resubmitted evidence and entered into the Combined DNA Index System(CODIS).  This database searches DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence, and missing persons. As a result of this search the DNA profile developed from the evidence found at the crime scene was matched with a known DNA profile of Robert Eugene Pilcher.

Pilcher is currently being held in the Wapello County Jail on one million dollars bond, pending an initial appearance. 

This investigation is ongoing by members of the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the DCI.

It should be noted a criminal charge is merely an accusation and the suspect considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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