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REMEMBERING JODI: 25 years later, friends remember missing morning anchor

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(KTTC) -- Saturday marks 25 years since morning news anchor Jodi Huisentruit went missing on her way to work -- a disappearance that remains in the memories of many across the region.

Jodi's friends and family have spent years searching for answers, yet the case remains cold.

"I could hear her giggle before I even saw her," Jodi's friend and co-worker at KIMT-TV Robin Wolfram said. "Viewers knew her for her giggle."

Those who knew Jodi, remember her glow.

"She truly had a sparkle. She just drew people in," Wolfram continued. "She was such warmth and such sunshine that her personality was just gravitating."

Jodi Huisentruit was a morning news anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City at the time of her disappearance. "She was very bubbly, very energetic, very lively," Former KIMT-TV News Director Doug Merbach said.

"She was very bubbly, very energetic, very lively," Former KIMT-TV News Director Doug Merbach said. "She was opinionated. She had strong feelings about her newscast and the news product. She was a joy to be around. She could be a pistol at times -- like a lot of you young news reporters. But, she was very good to work with and the people of Mason City really loved her. The viewers really loved her."

That all changed June 27th, 1995.

"When the police called me back after doing a welfare check, I felt like I was socked in the stomach," KIMT news producer Amy Kuns told KTTC two weeks after Jodi's vanishing.

Jodi was gone. Seemingly abducted in the early hours on her way to work.

"I think this is something that Mason City will never forget," Wolfram said.

Robin Wolfram says she and Jodi became"fast friends." She remembers Jodi for her infectious laughter.

25 years later, and yet it almost feels like it was yesterday.

"I remember getting the call at 7 in the morning the day she disappeared," Wolfram said. "I was home and they asked me if I had seen Jodi, and I was still in slumber, and I said no she is at work, and they said she didn't show up. Immediately, I knew something was wrong."

Merbach recounts, "It was pretty devastating. One of our friends and co-workers was missing and we didn't know what happened, where she was, if she was okay, if she would show up the next day or that night. You know, you always thought it would get solved pretty quickly."

After two and half decades, Jodi's mystery is still unsolved.

Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley is the fourth police chief to take on Jodi's case. "It's as raw today as it was 25 years ago," Brinkley said.

"There's a lot of pain that comes with that uncertainty in not knowing," Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley said.

As the forth Mason City Police Chief to take on Jodi's case, Brinkley feels her presence is in the community still today. While he couldn't give specifics on where Jodi's case stands now, he assures it's not forgotten.

"It's as raw today as it was 25 years ago," Brinkley said.

Raw, yet healing.

"I think we are focusing on Jodi's life rather than her abduction after all these years, but I think there will be a wound there for a long time," Wolfram said.

And of course, remembering.

"It's something we need to do for Jodi," Merbach said. "That makes it emotional, but its something that we have to do and need to do and want to do."

Friends and family of Jodi, including Merbach and Wolfram, will remember Jodi in a memorial in Mason City Saturday afternoon.

The team asks people to leave a light on for Jodi to help remember and honor her. You can do that by leaving a porch light on or lighting a candle and sharing photos on social media with the #LightsForJodi.


Beret Leone

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