UPDATE:

Crystal A. Arensdorf went missing on July 4, 2001, but for her sister it still feels like it happened yesterday.

“It’s hard to think of what would she be like today, if she would have children, what would she be doing with her life,” Jennifer Puetsch said. “It’s been 14 years and we have no clue. There’s no more information than the night she disappeared.”

Several community members are now hoping to offer a substantial reward to help solve Arensdorf’s disappearance and unsolved murders in Dubuque.

Members of the Social Justice Committee of St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick Church, along with Dubuque/Jo Daviess Counties Crime Stoppers, today announced the start of a $10,000 fundraising campaign to secure leads in unsolved cases. The key cases mentioned today include Arensdorf’s disappearance, along with the murders of Marlon Barber Jr. and Kenny Joe Johnson.

Barber, 15, was fatally shot in October 2012 after leaving a party near Jackson and 21st streets, and 14-year-old Johnson was found strangled and wrapped in a carpet in Maus Park in October 1987. Arensdorf, 20, was last seen at a Dubuque bar but was gone when a cab arrived to take her to East Dubuque, Ill.

Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter said during today’s press conference he believes a substantial reward will help compel people withholding valuable information to come forward, which could potentially lead to arrests.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to use money to try to develop leads or pursue leads (but) I think we’re at that point with a lot of these cold cases,” Baxter said.

He said in particular, investigators are very close to making an arrest in the Barber and Johnson murders, as well as bringing closure to the Aresndorf disappearance, but are missing crucial links in the cases. He said being that close but unable to make arrests has been incredibly frustrating for the investigators assigned to those cases.

Jim Rafferty, a member of the social justice committee, said the committee will be going to community members as well as business leaders and organizations to solicit donations to the cause. He added the Dubuque/Jo Daviess Counties Crime Stoppers’ Facebook page is now equipped with a PayPal online donation account.

“The money goes straight to (Crime Stoppers),” Rafferty said.

Rafferty said he has already heard from a person who is contemplating a $1,000 donation to the cause, though he anticipates the goal will be met through smaller donations from community members. He believes the group will exceed their $10,000 goal.

Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Dave Boardman, a liaison for the local Crime Stoppers, said the rewards give for tips will be based on their value to the investigation. He said a citizen board decides the amount for any rewards given out.

Boardman said investigators vet the tips that are given to Crime Stoppers, and probable cause needs to be found for any arrests can be made.

“Probable cause is a very high standard,” Boardman said.

Puetsch called the fundraising effort a wonderful way to get the community involved in the fight to solve cold cases. She said not knowing what has happened to Arensdorf has been a difficult burden for the family and urged anyone to come forward, even if the tip may be small.

“You wouldn’t want to be in the position the families with unsolved cases in Dubuque are,” Puetsch said. “It only takes one piece of information to find out what happened, whether it’s big or small.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

A social justice group hopes to provide a substantial incentive to help close unsolved murder and missing person cases.

Members of the Social Justice Committee of St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick Church, along with Dubuque/Jo Daviess Counties Crime Stoppers, announced the start of a campaign to raise $10,000 in reward money to secure leads in unsolved cases. The key cases officials are seeking assistance with are the 1987 murder of Kenny Joe Johnson, the 2001 disappearance of Crystal Arensdorf and the 2012 shooting of Marlon Barber.

Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter said during a press conference he believes the reward money will help compel people who are withholding valuable information to come forward, which could potentially lead to arrests.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to use money to try to develop leads or pursue leads (but) I think we’re at that point with a lot of these cold cases,” Baxter said.

He said in particular investigators are very close to making an arrest in the Barber and Johnson murders, as well as bringing closure to the Aresndorf disappearance. He said being that close but unable to tie the final pieces together has been incredibly frustrating for the investigators assigned to those cases.

Jim Rafferty, a member of the social justice committee, said the committee will be going to community members as well as business leaders and organizations to solicit donations for the cause. He added the Dubuque/Jo Daviess Counties Crime Stoppers’ Facebook page is now equipped with a PayPal online donation account.

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