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“Find Jodi” billboard vandalized

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MASON CITY, Iowa (KTTC) -- The "Find Jodi" billboard in Mason City, Iowa, meant to bring awareness to the decades old cold case, was found vandalized with spray paint Thursday morning.

In a photo sent to KTTC, the billboard reads the name "Frank Stearns" along with the words "machine shed." Stearns was an investigator for the Mason City Police Department and worked on the Jodi Huisentruit case.

Huisentruit, a 27-year-old morning anchor at KIMT in Mason City, went missing nearly 25 years ago on her way to work. The organization, FindJodi.com, put the billboard up in June 2018.

According to Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley, a patrol officer found the sign vandalized at 12:15 a.m. Brinkley adds that the vandalism is not helpful or useful to Jodi's case, but rather a "distraction."

Steve Ridge, a close follower and independent investigator of Jodi's case, says two people in dark clothing were seen on surveillance footage parked behind a nearby tavern, committing the crime.

"Brought it around and very methodically moved the ladder along to write the letters Frank Sterns," Ridge said. "Former Lieutenant of the Mason City police department. Then replace the ladder and in one swoop wrote machine shed. Implying that perhaps that is where to look for Jodi's body."

Ridge says he spoke with Stearns Thursday. He says Stearns wants the people responsible prosecuted.

Josh Benson, one of the founders of the FindJodi.com sent a statement to KTTC saying quote: "We're disappointed someone chose to vandalize one of our billboards instead of just reaching out to FindJodi.com or the proper authorities with information they may have. You can do so anonymously. Reagan Outdoor Advertising graciously kept that billboard up 17 months at no charge to us. But now they'll be taking it down. We'll be discussing options moving forward."

According to FindJodi.com, the billboard will be taken down Friday.

Anyone with information in the crime is asked to call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636 or North Iowa CrimeStoppers.

Beret Leone

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